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Scarlets avoid red faces

Scarlets recovered from a dreadful first half to see off bottom club Zebre in their RaboDirect PRO12 clash at Parc y Scarlets.

The sixth-placed Welsh region were forced to come back from 13-9 at half-time to win 27-20 and open up a 10-point gap between themselves and Edinburgh in seventh place.

Rhys Priestland kicked 17 points with the two Scarlets tries coming from hooker Ken Owens and wing Jordan Williams.

Scarlets' game management was at best sloppy as they allowed the Italians into a 13-9 interval lead.

Though Priestland put the home side into a 6-0 lead after nine minutes with two 40-metre penalties Simon Easterby's side were culpable when it came to holding on to possession.

And Zebre made the most of a poor 40 minutes from the Scarlets by scoring two tries on 27 and 33 minutes after centre Gonzalo Garcia had been on target with one of two penalty attempts.

First big number eight Samuela Vunisa dived over in the right corner after bursting off the back of a five-metre scrum.

It was Vunisa who then set up Zebre's second try with a perceptive kick ahead which wing Guilo Toniolatti latched onto as the bottom club went into a 13-6 advantage.

Priestland grabbed a penalty back but there was more bad news for Scarlets when Sione Timani was sin-binned for an elbow in the face of Toniolatti, who was forced off injured on 38 minutes.

To add insult to injury Zebre had two claims of tries in the right corner but both were ruled out after TV replays.

But straight after the interval 14-man Scarlets produced a try out of the top drawer to regain the lead.

It was started and finished by Jordan Williams, with Liam Williams linking effectively in the 80-metre move down the left. Priestland converted as the home side led 16-13 after 43 minutes.

After some efficient pick and go by the forwards Scarlets made good ground before replacement hooker Owens went over for the second try nine minutes later as they led 21-13.

Although he missed the conversion Priestland did kick another penalty on 58 minutes to extend the lead to 11 points just before Zebre had a try disallowed for a forward pass.

But Zebre put that behind them to score their third try when Garcia scampered over under the posts. Luciano Orquera converted to make it 24-22 on 66 minutes.

Some of the pressure was released for the home side by Priestland's fifth penalty 11 minutes from time.

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