Match report: Much-needed win against Edinburgh, but Scarlets do it the hard way
Scarlets 14, Edinburgh 13.
THE Scarlets put themselves back into the Pro 12 play-off positions, but found the hard road to do it against stubborn Scottish opponents.
Despite dominating possession and territory, the home side were clinging on to a one-point lead at the death.
And it even needed a last-ditch tackle from replacement Owen Williams to deny Edinburgh a potentially match-winning try.
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The Scarlets should have long been out of sight before that but failed to make the most of a glut of ball, particularly in a one-sided second half. Replacement fly-half Williams also missed three penalty kicks at goal.
Nevertheless, with only five matches remaining in the regular season, Simon Easterby's side are very much in the fight, even if the head coach knows major improvements will be needed from here on in.
Easterby had made five changes from the side comprehensively beaten 32-5 on a disappointing night in Dublin.
Liam Williams was released from Rob Howley's Six Nations squads to slot in at full-back, while prop Samson Lee, lock Jake Ball and flanker Johnathan Edwards were also restored to the starting XV, with Aled Thomas switching from the No. 15 jersey to No. 10 in the other change.
As for Edinburgh, their cause was aided by the availability of one of their Scotland squad members, No. 8 Dave Denton, as they looked to arrest a ten-match losing slump dating back to December 1.
There was no sign of it being anything other than 11 straight defeats in the opening exchanges as the home side coasted into an 8-0 lead.
Pressure on the visitors' line led to a straightforward penalty for Thomas, preferred at fly-half to Owen Williams, who was named among the replacements.
And Thomas then had a hand in the Scarlets' opening try, taking the ball up to the line before feeding left wing Andy Fenby on a sharp inside angle.
The rest belonged to the North Walian speedster, who rounded full-back Greig Tonks before diving over in the corner for his 10th try in all competitions this season and eighth in the league.
However, complacency quickly appeared to seep through home ranks.
The Scarlets made a mess of the restart which eventually led to a comfortable penalty to Leonard, then after Thomas had kicked the restart straight into touch, Edinburgh worked wing Dougie Fife clear, making the most of a mix-up in the Scarlets defensive line.
Leonard's touchline conversion made it 10-8 to the visitors and that is how it stayed until the interval, which would no doubt have prompted some stern words from Easterby at half-time.
Apart from Fenby's intervention, the Scarlets had struggled to put any cohesive moves together and it allowed the Scots to grow in confidence and believe that their barren run was about to end.
Wales international Richie Rees had looked sharp for the Scottish side all evening and when he charged down replacement scrum-half Gareth Davies, the home side infringed in the shadow of their own posts and up stepped Leonard to extend Edinburgh's lead by a further three points.
With the Scarlets guilty of kicking away far too much possession, frustration mounted in the stands, although Thomas was able to reduce the deficit to 13-11 with a Thomas penalty.
Then a clever chip over the top turned defence into attack.
Owen Williams struck the post with a long-range penalty, but the Scarlets continued to press, often looking for the direct route instead of going wide.
With men free outside him, flanker Edwards thought he had driven over, but the television match official failed to rule in his favour and Edinburgh were able to clear their lines.
Williams, so accurate in his first three matches, missed another chance to give the Scarlets the lead, then Edinburgh found themselves down to 14 men when Fife was yellow-carded after another infringement at the breakdown.
Williams, though, was off target again as tension grew around Parc y Scarlets.
Finally, with Scarlets dominating possession and territory, Williams was handed a chance from bang in front and made no mistake to give the home side the lead.
With man of the match Aaron Shingler and lock Joe Snyman at the heart of the effort, more pressure followed, but still the Scarlets struggled to break down some stubborn Edinburgh defence, all too often opting for the head down route into black jerseys.
Instead, it was Williams's tackle on flanker Hamish Watson that ensured the Scarlets go into their mini-break with their play-off ambitions alive and kicking.