Leigh Halfpenny was hailed as the world's best goalkicker after he starred in Scarlets' European Champions Cup quarter-final victory over La Rochelle.

The Wales full-back booted 19 points, landing seven from eight shots at goal, while fly-half Rhys Patchell and centre Scott Williams scored tries to see the Scarlets through 29-17.

The triumph at a sold-out Parc-y-Scarlets means they will face Leinster or Saracens next month for a place in the final.

It is the first time since 2007 that the Scarlets have reached the penultimate knockout stage of European club rugby's blue riband tournament.

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And La Rochelle could have few complaints, despite tries by Romain Sazy and Piarre Boudehent, with scrum-half Alexi Bales kicking a penalty and conversion, and Benjamin Noble converting Boudehent's late touchdown.

Scarlets skipper Ken Owens said: "Leigh's kicking ability - he is the best in the world.

"We knew if we put them under pressure, we were going to get penalties, and then we had the right man to bang them over, which is outstanding.

"That was one of the biggest matches I have been involved in. It has taken 11 years to get back to the same stage in Europe, and it was the biggest game of my club career, certainly.

"I am just so proud of the boys. They turned up on the day and delivered. We ground out the victory after we got into a pattern that worked for us.

"Knockout rugby, we've learnt that you can try and play as much as you want, but you have just got to find a way to win, and that's what we did.

"But it is a job half done. We have got another big game in three weeks' time. We will keep working and keep building momentum.

"Cup rugby is about attitude and delivering. It wasn't pretty at times, and there was that period when La Rochelle put us under pressure, which we knew they would, and not to concede then was massive. Sometimes it is about digging in.

"We will get better and we will improve. We are in the semi-finals, and we are enjoying the journey.

"The atmosphere was fantastic. It has been a barren 11 years in Europe, and you are judged on Europe at the end of the day. We are just looking forward to the next opportunity."

La Rochelle, making their Champions Cup debut this season, ultimately paid for that lack of experience, conceding several penalties through technical indiscipline.

And the Scarlets, last season's PRO12 champions, will now await the outcome of Sunday's Leinster versus Saracens clash in Dublin, with a last-four encounter awaiting them at either the Aviva Stadium or Coventry's Ricoh Arena.

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac added: "Like any game, you don't quite know how things are going to pan out. They gave away penalties, and we kicked the points.

"The atmosphere was superb. With about 25 minutes to go, they were cheering every turnover. The boys fed off it.

"There are going to be four very good sides in the semi-finals. We have just got to keep working hard and give ourselves an opportunity.

"Leigh's goalkicking is world-class, as we know. It was the launchpad in the first half for us to go on and win the game."

Follow our live blog of Munster v Toulon (3.15pm kick-off) on RTÉ Online and the RTÉ News Now App, or listen to commentary from Michael Corcoran and Donal Lenihan on RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday Sport.

Follow our live blog of Leinster v Saracens (3.30pm kick-off) this Sunday on RTÉ Online and the RTÉ News Now App.