Scarlets coach Simon Easterby: We're in charge of our own play-off destiny
HEAD coach Simon Easterby believes the Scarlets are now masters of their own play-off destiny.
With five rounds of league action remaining, the Llanelli-based region sit in fourth in the RaboDirect Pro12 table following their nervy 14-13 win over Edinburgh on Friday night and the Ospreys' 13-13 draw with Munster in Limerick.
Only a point separates the West Wales neighbours, but with the Scarlets having what appears a far more favourable run-in, Easterby believes they have a great opportunity to make the end-of-season shoot-out for the first time.
"We have got a couple of weeks to recover some of the bruised and battered bodies which is really good because we are ready for this break — coaches and players," he said.
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"Then, we have a real opportunity to have an assault on the last five games. Two away will be tough — one is at a neutral venue (Dragons at Millennium Stadium) — but if we get through those two we have three at home (Glasgow, Blues and Treviso).
"At the moment I think it's in our hands and the longer that continues the better. As soon as it comes out of our hands and we have to rely on other people then it becomes more difficult.
"We have done our job. We were poor (against Leinster) and we lost. We were average (against Edinburgh) and we won.
"We would have taken three wins from four in this block so we have got to be pleased with that in terms of points gained. It keeps us right in the mix."
Easterby admitted the overriding emotion was one of relief after a below-par display against the struggling Scots.
The Scarlets should have made it far more comfortable, but failed to turn pressure into points, ignoring countless overlaps and missing four kicks at goal.
"Every game is winnable from now on, but we have to be far, far better than we were against Edinburgh and the week before against Leinster," added Easterby.
"Five from five is probably going to be necessary. We can't really afford to slip up. We have got to get something out of each game.
"We will make life really hard for ourselves if we don't do that."
After an intriguing weekend of Pro12 action, Glasgow have taken over at the top from long-time leaders Ulster, who were held to a surprise 29-29 draw by Treviso at Ravenhill.
Leinster's bonus-point win over the Dragons in Newport has also moved them within two points of the summit and with all of the top six facing fixtures against each other, there promises to be plenty more twists and turns to come over the final couple of months.
"There are a lot of sub-plots going on in the top five or six and we are part of that," added Easterby.
"As I say, it's in our hands and hopefully it will stay that way.
"But we have to be better than we were against Edinburgh. There is far more to come from us and I'm just disappointed the performance really wasn't of a side that has ambitions to be right at the top end of this league."
The Scarlets have a couple of weeks off before league action resumes with a trip to Italy to face bottom side Zebre.
Easterby is hoping to have a near fully-fit squad available for that match with only Rhys Priestland (Achilles) and Dan Newton (groin) on the long-term absentee list.
Scrum-half Aled Davies limped off with an ankle injury in the first half against Edinburgh and will be further assessed today.