There was heart-break at Stradey Park on Saturday as the Scarlets ground out a 36-32 win over Saracens - a good score but the wrong result. Despite the defeat, the English visitors picked up two bonus-points and duly progress to the semi-finals of the EDF Energy Cup.
The Guinness Premiership side had trailed since before half-time and had been behind by 23-7 and then 33-14 but, crucially, still managed bonus points for scoring four tries and losing by fewer than seven points courtesy of a late penalty try and two Andy Farrell penalties.
The home side gave their own hopes of qualification a boost by opening up a nine-point interval lead after being given first use of a strong breeze at their backs after Saracens won the toss.
The Scarlets were starved of possession for much of the first 40 minutes but did manage to open up a 6-0 lead with penalties for Stephen Jones, who finished up with 21 points, on 10 and 15 minutes for a ruck offence and offside respectively.
That was after Jones missed a penalty attempt from just inside his own half in the third minute.
Saracens responded but made little headway as the Scarlets unleashed some aggressive defence.
The Guinness Premiership side did get across the line through hooker Fabio Ongaro but the television match official was unable to give a try.
The Scarlets were living too close to the edge of the ruck laws for referee Dave Pearson's liking. Adam Eustace came in from the side of a ruck but Gordon Ross' penalty attempt held up dramatically in the wind.
Pearson's patience with the Scarlets ran out when he sin-binned Simon Easterby for failing to roll away from a ruck.
And two minutes later the home side conceded a penalty try from a five-metre scrum, which was converted by Ross to give Saracens a 7-6 lead.
It was a short-lived advantage, however, as the Scarlets, still down to 14 men, launched a try-scoring counter-attack.
Dwayne Peel's tap penalty saw Mark Jones make a searing break into the opposition 22 before Eustace put in fellow lock Scott Macleod.
And the Scarlets stretched their lead with a Jones long-range penalty in first-half injury time.
The second half started in frenetic fashion with five tries scored in 16 minutes as both sides went in search of bonus points.
Stephen Jones started the scoring sequence, converting his own try after being put over by Peel after a concerted attack by the Scarlets. But that was cancelled out by Saracens centre Adam Powell who darted over before the home side crossed twice in four minutes to seal a bonus point.
First Jon Davies evaded tackles to race in down the right before Garan Evans was put over by Regan King.
That left the Saracens needing to score four tries and gain a losing bonus point. They achieved the first when wing Kameli Ratuvou went in at the left corner and, following a Stephen Jones penalty, Saracens were awarded their second penalty try from a scrum.
Crucially, Farrell kicked a penalty from in front of the posts three minutes from time and then with the last kick of the game made sure of qualification with a second penalty goal. The Scarlets won the match with a bonus point but it was very much a hollow victory.
For Llanelli Scarlets:
Tries: MacLeod, S Jones, Davies, Evans
Cons: S Jones 2
Pens: S Jones 4
Tries: Penalty Try 2, Powell, Ratuvou
Cons: Ross 2, Farrell
Pens: Farrell 2
Llanelli Scarlets: 15 Morgan Stoddart, 14 Mark Jones, 13 Regan King, 12 Jon Davies, 11 Garan Evans, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Dafydd Jones, 7 Gavin Thomas, 6 Simon Easterby (c), 5 Scott Macleod, 4 Adam Eustace, 3 Deacon Manu, 2 James Hayter, 1 Iestyn Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Ben Broster, 17 Daniel George, 18 Vernon Cooper, 19 Alix Popham, 20 Gavin Cattle, 21 Rhys Priestland, 22 Nathan Brew.
Saracens: 15 Francisco Leonelli, 14 Richard Haughton, 13 Kevin Sorrell, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Kameli Ratuvou, 10 Gordon Ross, 9 Moses Rauluni, 8 Ben Skirving, 7 David Seymour, 6 Paul Gustard, 5 Iain Fullarton, 4 Tom Ryder, 3 Cobus Visagie, 2 Fabio Ongaro, 1 Kevin Yates
Replacements: 16 Andy Kyriacou, 17 Cencus Johnston, 18 Kris Chesney, 19 Andy Saull, 20 Alan Dickens, 21 Andy Farrell, Edd Thrower
Referee: Dave Pearson (England)
Touch judges: Roy Maybank (England), Paul Dix (England)
Assessor: Vernon Brown (Wales)
Television match official: Tony Rowlands (Wales)