Leinster lost ground in the GUINNESS PRO12 play-off race as they were outscored by three tries to one by the Scarlets in Llanelli…
The Llanelli outfit have proven to be formidable opposition at their Parc y Scarlets base, going unbeaten in PRO12 fare there since December 2013, and they added Leinster to their list of scalps tonight.
Ben Te'o's first try in Leinster colours had Matt O'Connor's men leading 10-8 at half-time, but the visitors could only muster a lone Jimmy Gopperth penalty in the second half as tries from Jordan Williams (51 minutes) and Rory Pitman (65) moved the Scarlets clear.
They also took a losing bonus point away from the visitors' clutches via a 75th minute penalty from replacement Rhys Priestland, as Leinster fell to only their second defeat in ten trips to Wales.
Rhys Ruddock returned to captain the province and Cian Healy made his first start since September, but it was the Scarlets who took an early lead through the boot of out-half Steve Shingler.
Scarlets centres Regan King and Scott Williams were prominent in an entertaining end-to-end opening, with some neat footwork from Luke Fitzgerald and Te'o getting Leinster into scoring range for the first time.
From a lineout in the 22, Sean Cronin barged his way over the gain-line before Te'o's well-timed angled run saw him collect a short Gopperth pass and charge through a midfield gap before stepping away from the final defence to score by the posts.
The centre's 18th-minute try was converted by Gopperth and the New Zealander nailed a penalty seven minutes later, punishing an offside decision against his opposite number Shingler.
The Scarlets responded by the half hour mark, Harry Robinson and Aled Davies featuring in a slick build-up before the influential King provided the final pass for number 8 Barclay to make it over in the right corner past Gopperth.
Shingler's missed conversion was the difference between the sides at the break, with Leinster having to dig deep to secure a couple of late turnovers through the combined efforts of Mike McCarthy, Healy, Kane Douglas and Ruddock.
The Scarlets were first to press in the second period and following a bout of sustained pressure Kiwi King, who was making his 100th PRO12 appearance, expertly drew in two defenders to release full-back Williams for a try which Shingler converted.
A Gopperth penalty for not rolling away reduced the arrears for Leinster to 15-13, only for the Scarlets' attack to click into gear once more in the final quarter. A key turnover by man-of-the-match James Davies thwarted Leinster before the Scarlets put the ball through the hands again and big replacement Pitman used his power to stretch over past the covering Gopperth.
Leinster's replacements had a positive impact late on but after Priestland widened the gap to 10 points, Zane Kirchner had a try disallowed as videos replays showed Scarlets skipper Ken Owens was taken out off the ball.
SCARLETS SCORERS: J. Barclay (1 try), J. Williams (1 try), R. Pitman (1 try), S. Shingler (1 conversion and 1 penalty), R. Priestland (1 penalty)
LEINSTER SCORERS: B. Te'o (1 try), J. Gopperth (1 conversion and 2 penalties)
SCARLETS: Jordan Williams; Harry Robinson, Regan King, Scott Williams, Hadleigh Parkes; Steven Shingler, Aled Davies; Phil John, Ken Owens (capt), Peter Edwards, George Earle, Johan Snyman, Lewis Rawlins, James Davies, John Barclay.
REPLACEMENTS: Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones, Jacobie Adriaanse, Jack Payne, Rory Pitman, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Adam Warren.
15. Zane Kirchner
14. Fergus McFadden (Dave Kearney, 64)
13. Ben Te'o
12. Gordon D'Arcy
11. Luke Fitzgerald
10. Jimmy Gopperth
9. Eoin Reddan (Isaac Boss, 67)
1. Cian Healy (Michael Bent, 73)
2. Sean Cronin (Richardt Strauss, 69)
3. Martin Moore (Tadhg Furlong, 53)
4. Mike McCarthy (Tom Denton, 64)
5. Kane Douglas
6. Rhys Ruddock CAPTAIN
7. Dominic Ryan (Josh van der Flier, 67)
8. Jack Conan
REPLACEMENT NOT USED: Noel Reid.
REFEREE: George Clancy (IRFU); ASSISTANT REFEREES: Gwyn Morris, Chris Williams (both WRU); CITING COMMISSIONER: Jeff Mark (WRU); TMO: Tim Hayes (WRU)