Scarlets win, Botia hits with knee injury

LLANELLI, Britain (Reuters) – Scarlets reached the Champions Cup semi-finals for the first time in 11 years as they made the most of debutants La Rochelle’s ill discipline and lack of composure to win 29-17 yesterday.

La Rochelle suffered a heavy blow when key flanker Levani Botia had to be replaced with a knee injury by France international Kevin Gourdon.

Leigh Halfpenny kicked five penalties and converted two second-half tries by Rhys Patchell and Scott Williams after La Rochelle had taken the lead thanks to Romain Sazy’s early try with Alexi Bales adding a conversion and a penalty. Benjamin Noble also added a conversion, while Pierre Boudehent scored a late try for La Rochelle. The visitors were repeatedly sanctioned and failed to score despite dominating a long spell in the second half.

Scarlets will take on either champions Leinster or Saracens, the sole English survivors in the competition, for a place in the final.

La Rochelle put pressure on the hosts with some clever kicking early on and it paid off when Sazy touched down after the Scarlets mishandled Jeremy Sinzelle’s kick.

But the visitors lacked discipline and they were trailing by five points midway through the first half after four penalties by Halfpenny.