Szarzewski targeting Scarlets scalp
October 13, 2008
Dimitri Szarzewski is gunning for the Scarlets this weekend © Getty Images
Stade Français Paris broke their Ravenhill "duck" at the fourth attempt but France Test hooker Dimitri Szarzewski is adamant the cosmopolitan Parisian club have set their sights on going through the month unbeaten - and that includes taking the Scarlets' scalp at Stade Jean-Bouin on Saturday.
Victory on the road in Belfast, where the French high flyers have seen their hopes crushed in the past, has given them the perfect start in their bid to top Pool 4. "Although we have only just finished with this game against Ulster, we are already thinking ahead to next weekend's tie against the Scarlets," said Szarzewski.
We have a very busy October and our objective is to win all our games this month. After the Scarlets we then face Toulouse at home and ASM Clermont away in the Top 14 so by the end of October we will have a clear idea of where we are and we will be able to judge whether we are on the right track or if we need to change or adapt our plans.
"Last year - and the season before that - we were quite impressed by the Scarlets and at times they can be a surprising team. "They like to move the ball about a lot and play at a fast pace so we cannot allow them to gain territory otherwise we will be in trouble and we have to impose our own pace on the match. "We will see how it goes at Jean Bouin but, for now, our team has built up some confidence since the start of the season and we hope to keep the winning spirit going."
A 29-22 home defeat at the hands of Harlequins means the Scarlets have now lost their last eight Heineken Cup matches going back to their semi-final defeat by Leicester Tigers in April, 2007, and stopping that unwanted run in Paris is a priority for Simon Easterby's team.
But Stade Français have won their last 16 matches in the French capital, where they have lost just once in 31 tournament matches, 16-14 to Munster in the 2002 quarter-finals. "We love the Heineken Cup because there is a lot of positive, attacking rugby played and the refereeing is also clearer, especially at the rucks," said Szarzewski. "I think that is because the players put in a real effort and, as a consequence, it makes things easier for the referee as the action is more obvious and the ball is released a lot quicker.
"For that reason it is always pleasant to play in the Heineken Cup and we also like playing abroad to meet foreign teams, it's always an interesting experience and it is a nice change from our normal routine.
"It allows us to explore other cultures and mingle with players that we don't normally meet and it was hugely satisfying to have won in Belfast as we came into the game determined to impose ourselves on the match - and that had not been achieved by Stade Français at Ravenhill until now.
"We were never really threatened, we were good in defence and efficient in gaining territory so we were able to put a lot of pressure on them. However, in the second half we probably lost a little bit of focus and that is what we need to work on if we want to be a top European team and compete for the title; we must get into the game from the start and stay focused until the final minute. We have to keep the intensity going and not relax towards the end of a game."
HEINEKEN CUP 2008/09 (All kick-offs LOCAL times)
FRIDAY 17 OCTOBER, 2008
Pool 5 Glasgow Warriors v Toulouse 20.00 Alan Lewis (I) Sky Sports / Canal+ Sport / Sky Italia
SATURDAY 18 OCTOBER, 2008
Pool 2 Castres Olympique v Edinburgh 18.30 Andrew Small (E) Canal+ Sport / Sky Sports**
Pool 2 Leinster v London Wasps 17.30 Nigel Owens (W) Sky Sports / RTE* / Sky Italia
Pool 3 Benetton Treviso v Leicester Tigers 14.35 Romain Poite (F) Sky Italia / Sky Sports**
Pool 3 Ospreys v Perpignan 15.30 Wayne Barnes (E) Sky Sports / France 2
Pool 4 Stade Français Paris v Scarlets 14.35 Peter Allan (S) Canal+ / Sky Sports
Pool 4 Harlequins v Ulster Rugby 15.00 Tim Hayes (W)
Pool 6 Biarritz Olympique v Rugby Calvisano 18.00 Andy McPherson (S)
SUNDAY 19 OCTOBER, 2008
Pool 1 Montauban v ASM Clermont Auvergne 16.00 Chris White (E) France 2
Pool 1 Sale Sharks v Munster 13.00 Christophe Berdos (F) Sky Sports / Sport+*** / RTE*
Pool 5 Bath Rugby v Newport Gwent Dragons 13.00 Carlo Damasco (It) S4C* / Sky Sports**
Pool 6 Cardiff Blues v Gloucester Rugby 15.00 Alain Rolland (I) Sky Sports / Sky Italia
* Delayed highlights ** Red button *** Delayed
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