The Celtic League champions have virtually surrendered that crown after slipping 17 points behind leaders Ospreys. Now their European ambitions are on the line against the Saints with nothing less than victory needed - for either side - to have a fighting chance of progressing to the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup.
"Looking back at what the club has achieved you would have to say that not reaching the last eight would not just be disappointing but deemed a huge failure," said Easterby. "The expectations put on us by both ourselves, the fans and the media is something we have to live up to. We always set out with Europe being the main aim of each season but for whatever reason we have not performed to our standards this year.
"We have at least brought ourselves back into contention with back-to-back wins over Glasgow. We have got a chance at qualification which is as much as we could have asked for after the losing the first two games. We expect to beat Northampton. It's as simple as that. And we know that victory over Northampton means we will have to go to Toulouse and win the group." Scarlets and Northampton's fortunes have mirrored each other this season. Following disastrous starts to their respective league campaigns, victories in Europe over Glasgow have galvanized both clubs' fortunes. Northampton have won four of their last five games, including a 23-21 triumph over Toulouse, while the Scarlets have lost just once in their last six. "We have been in similar positions all season," said Easterby. "They had a poor early season, like ourselves. They were low on confidence and not playing great. But they are now on the up and coming right back into form. They are still in this group. It's going to be a tough game. At Franklin's Gardens we were physically off the pace and came off second best in most areas. We have learned from that." The Scarlets are still sweating on the fitness of in-form centre Matthew Watkins, while Northampton have lost ex-All Black scrum-half Mark Robinson but have forwards Mark Soden and Robbie Morris back.
Llanelli Scarlets: G Evans; A Havili, TBC, S Finau, T Selley; G Bowen, D Peel; I Thomas, M Rees, J Davies, V Cooper, C Wyatt, S Easterby (capt), D Jones, G Thomas
Replacements: P John, A Gravelle, A Jones, A Powell, M Phillips, A Thomas, TBC
Northampton Saints: B Reihana; J Rudd, B Cohen, M Stcherbina, W Human; P Grayson, J Howard; C Budgen, S Thompson (capt), R Morris, G Seely, M Lord, A Blowers, M Soden, C Krige. Replacements: D Richmond, B Sturgess, D Browne, D Fox, B Jones, S Drahm, M Tucker
WRU International Skills Coach Jason Strange is a busy man, combining the new role with that of Wales Under 20 attack coach, Ebbw Vale head coach and continuing to teach at Ebbw Fawr Learning Community.
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