Gloucester prove too much for Scarlets
A MUCH-IMPROVED second-half display wasn't enough to prevent the Scarlets going down to a 31-17 defeat to Gloucester at Kingsholm.
After an error-ridden first half, the West Wales region dominated the second period with Rhys Priestland making an impressive return from injury off the bench.
The Scarlets claimed a penalty try with hooker Ken Owens and replacement scrum-half Rhodri Williams also touching down, which will leave head coach Simon Easterby a lot happier going into the start of the league season next week.
The Scarlets had gone into the match looking for encouragement a week before the visit of defending Pro12 champions Leinster.
Easterby put out a side that will be close to starting at Parc y Scarlets with British Lions centre Jonathan Davies and new signing John Barclay the only notable absentees.
However, the only positive from the opening half was some spirited defence that stopped Gloucester adding to their 14-0 interval lead.
There was plenty of ambition in the Scarlets play, but some woeful ball-retention saw them regularly turn over possession.
The Cherry and Whites were ahead on 10 minutes when James Simpson-Daniel shrugged off some weak defence to score by the posts.
And eight minutes later, the West Countrymen were over again thanks to a deft chip through by fly-half Freddie Burns which saw Billy Twelvetrees touch down.
Burns converted both and matters got worse for the Scarlets when centre Gareth Maule limped off before lock Joe Snyman was binned for a dangerous tackle.
To their credit, the Scarlets scrum did well to defend their line from five yards out just before the break, but Easterby would have demanded a vastly-improved performance in the second period.
And Easterby got an immediate response with the Scarlets claiming a penalty try three minutes after the restart.
The Scarlets opted to turn down a penalty shot at goal to set up an attacking line-out and after seeing the visitors gather impressive momentum with the drive, referee Greg Garner deemed the home pack had pulled the maul down illegally and headed to the posts.
Wales international Priestland, on at half-time, landed the simple conversion and the Scarlets were right back in the contest.
Gloucester's response, though, was rapid. First Burns landed a penalty, then the home side claimed a converted kick-and-chase try through flanker Matt Kvesic to move 24-7 ahead.
A clever blindside move saw hooker Ken Owens step his way over, but despite dominating possession, the Scarlets conceded a length-of-the-field try to Rob Cook before Williams claimed a late consolation.