Racing star Sexton backs Scarlets to be contenders in Heineken pool
RACING Metro's Lions fly-half Jonny Sexton believes the Scarlets remain a major threat to the two French big guns in this season's Heineken Cup pool of death.
The West Wales region are the surprise leaders of Pool 4 after the opening two rounds following their impressive win over Harlequins and draw with Racing in Llanelli on Saturday.
Some major challenges await, including back-to-back matches against one of the tournament favourites Clermont Auvergne in December.
But Sexton believes the rejuvenated Scarlets cannot be discounted as Simon Easterby's side look to reach the knockout stages for the first time since 2006-07.
"All the teams can beat each other, which is the good thing about this pool," said the Ireland No. 10. "Clermont still have to come to Parc y Scarlets. It's a really tough place to go, the Scarlets play some serious stuff and have some outstanding players."
Sexton said the Parisians were disappointed to have not emerged with the victory after having a last-gasp try disallowed by the television match official at Parc y Scarlets.
But he did admit a draw was a fair result after a gripping contest that ebbed and flowed throughout.
"It's bitterly disappointing not to get the win," he added. "We were down to 13 men and losing by 13 points so we did well to claw our way back and never give up.
"We had a couple of chances to win it — I had a chance near the end to put us in front and then I thought we scored a try.
"It was an evenly contested game and a draw was probably a fair reflection even though we had a couple of chances at the end."
The Scarlets return to Pro12 action this weekend when they take on Italian strugglers Zebre in Parma.
Easterby's men currently sit in eighth spot in the table with two wins from their five matches.
The Scarlets will have their Wales squad members available before they join up with the national squad ahead of the forthcoming autumn Test series.
Meanwhile, flanker Sion Bennett, a member of the Wales Under-20s side this summer, is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after dislocating his shoulder playing for Llanelli RFC against Bedford in the British and Irish Cup on Saturday.