The Edinburgh players showed more to coach Richard Cockerill in this heavy defeat, with 14 men at the home of the champions, than they had in beating the Dragons or narrowly losing to Treviso.
He had asked for improved character and commitment and felt he got it, even after the red card for prop Michele Rizzo which effectively ended any remaining doubt over the result of this contest.
So Irish referee John Lacey, in particular, and Guinness PRO14 referees, in general, were the targets of his ire, more because of two Scarlets tries he felt should have been reviewed and the 14-6 penalty count in favour of the home team than any quibbles over the red card.
“Letter of the law, whether your arms are up or not, if it is shoulder to head then I suppose you have no choice. Rules is rules, it is what it is and unfortunately for us it was very costly,” said Cockerill, who preferred to focus on the positive reaction to last week’s defeat.
“I’m pleased with the players’ effort and application because the Scarlets are a good side and if you let them get on the front foot they are very dangerous
“Last week was an unacceptable performance, tonight I thought parts were really good, I wanted commitment from the players, I wanted them to stay in the battle and I thought they did tonight. I thought our effort, endeavour and mentality deserved more out of the game.
“We lost tonight and I am a lot happier than I was last week when we lost by three – we beat Newport and I’m probably a lot happier than I was then when we won, so you have got to take it into context.”
It does not get any easier for Edinburgh with a trip to Dublin next Friday, but Cockerill know he has a long term rebuilding job in the Scottish capital after recent season around the bottom of the table.
“We have got to go to Leinster knowing we are good enough to be in the battle and if they get it wrong we are good enough to beat them. If they play as well as they can and we play as well as we can we might come second, that’s where we are at the moment,” he admitted.
“Over time that can change, Scarlets, Connacht, Glasgow, were bottom of the league six seven years ago and now they are doing what they’re doing. There has to be a starting point and this is our starting point.”
Cockerill was less happy with the refereeing, feeling his side could even have come away with a losing bonus.
“I thought we were a little bit unfortunate at times, the second try was crossing all day, don’t know why the referee didn’t go to TMO, we are live on television,” he said.
“Unfortunately because it is Edinburgh it doesn’t get checked, but a player’s shoulder to head rightly goes to TMO. The third try is forward pass by a mile and our players are saying the player’s foot was in touch when he made the pass.
“I just want us to be treated fairly as Edinburgh because we are supposed to lose, that’s how I felt we were refereed tonight, which was disappointing because John Lacey is an international referee and I expect him to referee better than that because I didn’t think we were refereed fairly tonight.
“The players asked him to look at it and he refused. It’s crossing, he affects the inside tackler and that’s a big call because you’re 8-7 up at half-time. They deserved to win, but scratch two tries off that and it is a bonus point and on the face of it a better performance.
“It is hard enough coming here anyway and I found the penalty count disappointing, but we have things to sort out. We worked hard to keep them down to four tries, or in my opinion two.”
After conceding tries to Scarlets half backs Rhys Patchell and Gareth Davies, Edinburgh had fought back with a try by Jason Harries, who came through the Scarlets age grade system, taking a good angle to go 25 yards to the try line.
“It’s always nice to get over the try line, especially as it was a special one tonight against my home region, but ultimately it’s all in vain because we have lost,” said Harries.
“I’ve always wanted someone to believe in me and then it’s up to me to show what I’m about. It was exciting to play here, one I was really looking forward to and relishing.
“It has been a crazy week of emotions, but you have to keep that in check. It was good to see my mates making the effort to turn out, but my family were at a close family wedding so no Mum and Dad tonight, they were all at the wedding.”
Scorers: Scarlets: Tries – Patchell, G Davies, Kruger, Shingler. Cons – Halfpenny (4).
Edinburgh: Try – Harries. Pen – Weir.
Scarlets: L Halfpenny; J McNicholl, J Davies (P Asquith 62), H Parkes, S Evans; R Patchell (R Jones 67), G Davies (A Davies 45); R Evans (W Jones ), K Owens (Capt, R Elias 62), S Lee (W Kruger 40), J Ball (D Bulbring 62), T Beirne, A Shingler, W Boyde, J Barclay (J Macleod 25).
Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; T Brown, C Dean, P Burleigh (R Fruean 57), J Harries; D Weir (J Tovey )63, N Fowles (S Hidalgo-Clyne 57); M Rizzo, S McInally (R Ford 50), WP Nel (S Berghan 50), B Toolis, G Gilchrist (F McKenzie 63), J Ritchie (D Marfo 57), H Watson, M Bradbury (Capt, J Hardie 62).
Referee:John Lacey (IRFU).
Source : HeraldScotland