THE Scarlets maintained their interest in this season's LV= Cup, but made hard work of victory over a youthful Gloucester side in a forgettable Anglo-Welsh contest at Parc y Scarlets.
A 77th-minute try from wing Aaron Warren sealed the win for the home side, but if Northampton Saints collect maximum points against the Dragons at Rodney Parade, the Scarlets’ hopes of qualification are over.
Skipper Josh Turnbull led the way with a typically workaholic display for the hosts, while Sione Timani put in a powerful 40 minutes before being replaced at half-time.
And although Jordan Williams and centre Steffan Hughes – a first-half try-scorer – gave glimpses of their talent, the match was decidedly short of magic moments.
A minute silence was held before kick-off in memory of Hefin Jenkins, who passed away on Friday.
Jenkins was part of an exclusive band of players who played more than 400 games for Llanelli RFC, before serving the club as chairman then taking his place on the Scarlets board.
He was No. 8 in the Llanelli RFC side that famously beat the All Blacks 9-3 in 1972.
The Scarlets went into the game with one win and one defeat so far in the competition and included just two players who started against Harlequins in the Heineken Cup last weekend.
Gloucester too made wholesale changes, handing former Scarlets scrum-half Tavis Knoyle a rare start.
Knoyle had admitted he wanted to prove a point after his departure from Parc y Scarlets last summer and was lively early on, although one attempted break did see him hit a three-man welcoming party of Scarlets jerseys.
Unsurprisingly, with the rain teeming down, errors littered the opening exchanges and it meant neither side created any notable try-scoring opportunities.
Kristian Phillips did well to scramble back to clean up a hack through, but at the other end of the field the winger threw an awful inside pass when Turnbull could have been put clear.
There was plenty of effort from both sides, but both were struggling for quick ball at the breakdown and it made for a stop-start affair.
The deadlock was finally broken with six minutes of the first half remaining.
Fly-half Josh Lewis put up a big cross-field bomb and when Gloucester failed to deal with it, Jordan Williams pounced on the loose ball.
There was still plenty to do, but Williams did well to cut inside and then offload to Wales Under-20s skipper Hughes, who showed good pace and strength to dive in at the corner.
Lewis missed with the touchline conversion and that was how it stayed until half-time with an off-the-ball scuffle the only other incident of an uneventful half.
The big plus for the Scarlets was the performance of Tongan No. 8 Timani, back in the side for the first time since the Pro12 defeat to Leinster in Dublin at the end of November.
Timani carried with purpose and put in a couple of trademark hits, but apart from a couple of flashes from Jordan Williams, there wasn’t much to excite a crowd of 5,487.
Timani was replaced by Lewis Rawlins at half-time as the Scarlets look to press home their advantage, but it was Gloucester who were next on the scoreboard thanks to a fine individual try from centre Billy Burns, which he converted himself.
The lead, though, was shortlived.
Good pressure earned the home side a penalty and Josh Lewis was on target to give his side the advantage again, but the Scarlets were unable to find any sort of fluency to their games.
The Scarlets earned a reprieve when Burns failed to make the distance with a penalty 40 metres out.
And they finally put the game safe on 77 minutes when a turnover by man of the match Turnbull saw wing Aaron Warren put in space down the touchline and he had enough gas to beat the despairing cover for the match-winning try.
Scarlets - Tries: S. Hughes, Aaron Warren. Pen: J. Lewis.
J. Williams; K. Phillips (repl K. Evans 56), S. Hughes, Adam Warren (repl G. Owen 56), Aaron Warren; J. Lewis, A. Davies (repl C. Lloyd 69) R. Evans (repl W. Jones 50), K. Myhill (repl D. Harris 56), J. Adriaanse (repl H. Pungea 50) R. Kelly, J. Snyman (repl C. Jones 56), J. Turnbull (capt), S. Timani (repl L. Rawlins 41), C. Price.
Gloucester Try: B. Burns. Con: Burns.
M. Thomas (repl W. Haywood 68); S. Reynolds, A. Bulumakau, B. Burns; D. Cheshire; J. Bentley (repl L. Evans 42), T. Knoyle; J. Gibbons (repl D. Murphy 50), K. Britton (repl D. George 50), R. Harden (repl T. Heard 56), W. James (capt; repl J. Hill 30), T. Hicks, R. Moriarty L. Ludlow (repl R. Boughton 56), A. Woodburn (repl S. Kalamafoni 49).
Referee: Neil Hennessy (WRU)