STRUGGLING Edinburgh crashed to a 14-13 defeat to Scarlets last night – their 11th loss in a row and their second in Wales in a week – but they could easily have emerged as winners at Parc y Scarlets.
Scorers: Scarlets: Try: A Fenby. Pens: A Thomas (2), O Williams. Edinburgh: Try: D Fife. Pens: H Leonard (2). Cons: H Leonard.
The Scots side led 10-8 at half-time and flanker Hamish Watson was hauled down in the final minute just as he looked as if he might steal a much-needed win.
After going down to Ospreys 24-7 this was a vast improvement, something admitted by coach Michael Bradley.
“We had a chance to win it – we were there right up until the last play of the game,” he said. “The bigger picture is we lost the game. We will lick our wounds and our next game is Ulster in three weeks.
“Against the Ospreys we gave seven penalties away in the first 20 minutes and we didn’t do that this week. In the end Scarlets got one more kick than we did.”
For Edinburgh, Ben Cairns replaced Nick De Luca, who received a 13-week ban for a tip tackle in the defeat at Ospreys last week.
David Denton was back at No.8, Allan Jacobsen returned at prop, while hooker Steven Lawrie passed a fitness test.
Like the previous week’s visit to Wales when they went down to Ospreys, completing a tenth straight defeat, Edinburgh found themselves under the cosh inside their 22 early on.
The defence held strong but they still gave a penalty away after being caught offside with Aled Thomas kicking the home side into a 3-0 lead on nine minutes.
And it got better for the Scarlets five minutes later when Andy Fenby ran away through the cover tackle of full-back Greig Tonks to score the opening try. But Thomas missed the conversion.
Edinburgh got on the scoreboard almost immediately from the restart when fly-half Harry Leonard put over a penalty from the 22 after a Scarlets ruck offence five metres from the line. That obviously gave the Scots some confidence as they cruised into the lead when Leonard’s long pass opened the way for wing Dougie Fife to score a converted try.
Edinburgh were helped that full-back Williams had rushed up in defence to create the space for Fife to score.
It could have got even better for the visitors but Leonard was just short with a 50-metre penalty shot.
After that, neither side were able to take the initiative with both sets of half-backs kicking away a stream of possession.
Edinburgh won the first battle of the second half when lively scrum-half Richie Rees charged down a kick in the 22. From that position Edinburgh earned a penalty which Leonard kicked to extend their lead to 13-8.
Edinburgh were forced into a change when second row Perry Parker limped off to be replaced by Rob McAlpine. The Scarlets battered their way into the Edinburgh 22 through their forwards and eventually earned a penalty which Aled Thomas kicked to reduce the deficit to two points.
Owen Williams replaced Thomas at outside-half and had a penalty shot to regain the lead but his attempt rebounded off an upright.
Scarlets regained possession and got over the line through flanker Johnathan Edwards but the TMO Paul Adams did not award the try. And another chance to take the lead went begging when Owen Williams missed a second penalty attempt on 59 minutes.
It took an easy attempt in front of the posts, after Edinburgh were adjudged offside, for Williams to break his duck and rip the lead off the visitors on 67 minutes.
It all looked a lost cause again for Edinburgh until Hamish Watson ran away in the final minute only to be tackled by Owen Williams.
Scarlets: L Williams; N Reynolds, G Maule, A Warren, A Fenby; A Thomas (O Williams 51), A Davies (G Davies 33); P John (R Jones 76), E Phillips (M Rees 51), S Lee (D Manu 68), J Ball (S Timani 62), J Snyman, A Shingler, J Edwards, R McCusker (capt).
Edinburgh: G Tonks; D Fife, B Cairns (T Brown 64), B Atiga, L Jones; H Leonard, R Rees (C Leck 77); A Jacobsen (J Yapp 64), S Lawrie (A Titterrell 70), W Nel, P Parker (R McAlpine 46), S Cox (capt), S McInally, H Watson, D Denton.
Referee: Giuseppe Vivarini (Ita)