Halfpenny boots Scarlets into semi-finals for first time since 2007


Llanelli (United Kingdom) (AFP)

Welsh side Scarlets marched into the last four of the Champions Cup for the first time in over a decade with a 29-17 victory over La Rochelle of France in Llanelli on Friday.

Scarlets, playing in the knock out rounds of the competition for the first time since 2007, fielded 11 of the Wales team that beat France in the last round of the Six Nations earlier in March.

"I'm proud of the boys. We weren't at our best today but we did what we needed to do," said Scarlets captain Ken Owens.

"It's been a long 11 years to be back up here. I'm so proud of the boys and the effort they put in to get us in this position and we dare to dream. It means everything to me."

Romain Sazy touched down for the French club after nine minutes, a try converted by Alexis Bales who added a penalty just before the break, but four penalties by fullback Leigh Halfpenny, who finished with 19 points, gave Scarlets a 12-10 lead at the break.

Halfpenny kicked another penalty early in the second half before the Scarlets added tries from fly-half Rhys Patchell and centre Scott Williams, both converted by Halfpenny.

When Williams beat two defenders to put the Scarlets 17 points ahead with four minutes to play, the sold out Parc-y-Scarlets went delirious with joy.

La Rochelle only managed to find a way though after time was up when Pierre Boudehent broke away for a try.

Scarlets will face Leinster or Saracens next month for a place in the final.