Pro12: Scarlets 20-12 Zebre
|Scarlets (17) 20|
|Tries: Parkes, A Davies Cons: Thomas (2) Pen: Thomas, Shingler|
|Zebre (0) 12|
|Tries: van Schalkwyk (2) Con: Violi|
Scarlets survived a spirited second-half comeback by Zebre to claim a hard-earned 20-12 home win in the Pro12.
The Welsh region scored tries through Hadleigh Parkes and Aled Davies in the opening 12 minutes and led 17-0 at half-time.
But two touchdowns by number eight Andries Van Schalkwyk brought Zebre back to within a score with 20 minutes remaining in atrocious weather.
Steven Shingler's late penalty finally sealed the win for the Scarlets.
The result lifted Scarlets to second in the table behind Connacht.
Flying start for Scarlets
Scarlets were forced into a late change, with Gareth Owen coming in on the wing for the injured Tom Williams.
It meant the Welsh region started with nine changes from the team beaten by Racing 92 in the Champions Cup, but they showed little sign of disruption in the early exchanges.
After a run of three consecutive defeats, Wayne Pivac's team might have been thinking of bonus points following a blistering start with a strong wind at their backs.
Playing with the elements at their back, Scarlets made the early breakthrough when man-of-the-match Parkes burst through some weak midfield defence to score near the posts.
And the New Zealander played a big part in the second try as again he exploited some disorganised midfield defence before giving Davies a clear run to the line.
With a rout on the cards, Scarlets lost their edge while Zebre came to terms with the atrocious weather conditions to stage some strong attacks of their own before the interval.
Zebre stage comeback
Scarlets looked a lot less comfortable playing into the wind, with Zebre's forwards rumbling effectively with fly-half Canna's tactical kicking keeping them on the front foot.
The Italians were rewarded when van Schalkwyk claimed the touchdown following a driving line-out and then exploited some weak tackling to dive over from a five-metre scrum.
Canna's conversion brought the Italians back to within a score with Scarlets down to 14 men after second row Maselino Paulino was shown a yellow card.
However, far from crumbling, the home team rallied and forced the Italians back into their own territory.
Steven Shingler replaced Aled Thomas at fly-half, but was off-target with two penalties, before finally nailing the crucial three points to take the Scarlets two scores clear with five minutes remaining.
What they said
Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac said: "We're happy to get the win, that's the first thing in conditions like this.
"All weekend we've seen some pretty tight games and we knew this would be another hard game for us in the conditions and I was really pleased with first 25 maybe 30 minutes of the game.
"I thought we controlled it really well and took our opportunities and set ourselves up for the win, but our discipline let us down in that last 10 minutes of the first half.
"At the end of the day four points in these conditions is important, but in the second half there was a lot to work on."
Scarlets: Steffan Evans; Gareth Owen, Regan King, Hadleigh Parkes, DTH van der Merwe; Aled Thomas, Aled Davies; Rob Evans, Emyr Phillips, Samson Lee, Maselino Paulino, Lewis Rawlins, Aaron Shingler, James Davies, John Barclay (capt).
Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Dylan Evans, Rhodri Jones, George Earle, Jack Condy, Rhodri Williams, Steve Shingler, Michael Collins.
Zebre: Guglielmo Palazzani; Dion Berryman, Giulio Bisegni, Matteo Pratichetti, Kayle Van Zyl; Carlo Canna, Luke Burgess; Andrea Lovotti, Andrea Manici, Pietro Ceccarelli, Valerio Bernabo, George Biagi (capt), Jacopo Sarto, Paul Derbyshire, Andries Van Schalkwyk.
Replacements: Oliviero Fabiani, Andrea De Marchi, Guillermo Roan, Marco Bortolami, Federico Ruzza, Marcello Violi, Tommaso Boni, Edoardo Padovani.
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU).
Assistant referees: Leighton Hodges, Dan Jones (WRU).
Citing commissioner: Jeff Mark (WRU).
TMO: Jon Mason (WRU).