Edinburgh v Scarlets: Last-gasp win just the tonic after disappointing fortnight
SCARLETS backs coach Mark Jones believes Friday night's last-gasp victory in Edinburgh could be hugely significant for the region's league hopes this season.
A penalty from replacement fly-half Rhys Priestland two minutes from time sealed a 29-28 win at Murrayfield — only the second time the Scarlets have triumphed in the Scottish capital in the tournament's history.
It could have been more comfortable with the West Walians leading 26-19 at half-time thanks to a brace of tries from the outstanding George North and further scores from centre Nick Reynolds and scrum-half Gareth Davies.
But Jones insists that after the demoralising setbacks in Europe, a five-point away victory will give everyone at Parc y Scarlets a massive pick-me-up.
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"After a tough fortnight, the boys really showed their commitment, determination and mental strength to come away with a win," said the former Wales wing.
"We should not underestimate how important a match this was in the context of the season.
"Our focus was to get to back on track and back up our results in the league. This is a big boost for us after the disappointment of the last two weeks.
"We've talked about closing out games and particularly being able to finish teams off. This is a very significant result."
The win keeps the Scarlets second in the RaboDirect Pro12 table, hot on the heels of unbeaten leaders Ulster.
The key now for the region's coaching team is coping with the loss of 12 players who have flown out to Poland for a Wales training camp ahead of the forthcoming autumn international series.
Head coach Simon Easterby will hope some of those who missed the trip to Scotland — the likes of South African locks Joe Snyman and George Earle, wing Andy Fenby and centre Gareth Maule — will be fit to face bottom side Zebre in Llanelli on Saturday evening.
Hooker Kirby Myhill, who has been sidelined for the past month with a dislocated finger, could also return to compensate for the absence of internationals Matthew Rees and Ken Owens.
Another positive was the return from injury of Gareth Owen, a summer signing from the Ospreys. The 23-year-old three-quarter missed the entire 2011-12 season after undergoing a major knee operation, but after a couple of appearances for Llanelli RFC, Owen came off the bench late on at Murrayfield and played a part in the final attack that led to Priestland's match-winning penalty.
Meanwhile, the Scarlets will also be without experienced prop Deacon Manu for three matches in November after he was named in Fiji's squad for their northern hemisphere tour.