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Scarlets captain Ken Owens – 'Expect the unexpected'

Scarlets captain Ken Owens holds aloft the Rag Doll Scarlets and Bath have competed for since 1921
European Champions Cup
Venue: Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli Date: Saturday, 20 January Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, online and the BBC Sport app, plus live score updates.

Scarlets captain Ken Owens says their stunning performance in winning 35-17 at Bath in the European Champions Cup came from having learned to “expect the unexpected” from each other.

The Welsh went top of Pool 5 to set up a winner-takes-all game against Toulon on Saturday, 20 January.

Owens and his team attacked from all areas at The Rec to deliver the win.

“If it’s on, we back our skills and our confidence and we’ve learnt,” said Wales hooker Owens.

“It hasn’t gone right at times and it took a little bit of time for it all to click.

“But we’ve learned as players to expect the unexpected from each other.

“We’ve got some great players, play a good brand and we enjoy doing it.”

‘We train like this’ – Owens

Hadleigh Parkes is surrounded by team-mates celebrating his try at Bath<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

Tries by side-stepping Irish lock Tadhg Beirne, Australian wing Paul Asquith and Wales centres Hadleigh Parkes and Scott Williams underlined that approach.

Scarlets won the Pro12 in 2016-17 by employing that style.

Owens admits they have been less impressive in attempts to repeat it in the revamped Pro14 this season, but Scarlets are nonetheless leading Conference B while equally-expansive Glasgow top the A division.

“It’s not an effort, it’s enjoyable – that’s what we train like all through the week,” added Owens.

Wayne Pivac celebrates with Scott Williams<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

“It took a bit if time for us to get to the level we’ve been at the end of last season against Bath.

“But the more we play together, the better we get.

“We all understand each other.

“I’ve never seen a side that works so hard for each other.

“They’re all honest and really enjoy each other’s company and it shows on the pitch and how we express ourselves.”

Targeting Toulon

Scarlets attention now turns to facing Toulon at Parc y Scarlets with the former European champions hosting Treviso-based Italian side Benetton on Sunday, 14 January.

Star-studded Toulon, who are sixth in the French Top 14 with seven wins from 15 starts, will be up against a team that has won six of their 13 Pro14 games this term.

Toulon can overhaul second-placed Bath in the group against the winless Italians.

Having won four of their five European games so far – the only defeat coming in Toulon – Owens says “of course” he and his team-mates are motivated to become the first Welsh team to reach the quarter-finals since Cardiff Blues in 2011-12.

“The Blues have been there or thereabouts over the years; the Ospreys have and the last time the Scarlets got through was when I was a really young 19-year-old, which was a lifetime ago, it seems, for us to get any sort of success in Europe.

“That’s been mine and the side’s big driving factor this year – to make a statement in Europe.

“Are we good enough to go all the way? I don’t know.

“But we’ve put ourselves in a good spot.”

Owens added: “We’ve got as slight advantage over Toulon as they play on Sunday and they’ve got to travel.

“But it is only half a job done. We’re doing it the hard way in Europe at the moment, but we’ve put ourselves in with a chance of reaching the quarter-finals, and it is cup final rugby now.”

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