The win moves Leinster 21 points clear at the top of conference B at least overnight while the Scarlets remain in fourth.
On a night when both teams were missing the vast majority of their star men, it was the Scarlets that put the pressure on early.
They built up phases only to be let down by loose passes forward and knock-ons which caused the game to stop and start.
An injury to Scarlet’s David Bulbring brought the game to a halt in the first half.
Leinster registered the opening score of the game in the 31st minute through a Ciaran Frawley penalty.
They went into the break 10-0 up thanks to a bit of fortune. Mick Kearney had a loose pass picked up by Conor O’Brien, who released to centre partner Rory O’Loughlin, who in turn dodged tackles from Johnny McNicholl and Phil Price to go over for the game’s opening try.
Ciaran Frawley added the extras before they left the field,
The Scarlets once more started the half well and were rewarded in the 52nd minute. Dan Davis broke away from Rob Kearney on halfway, before passing to Kieran Hardy to touch down.
Dan Jones slotted home the conversion, before bringing the sides level on the hour mark with a penalty.
With 11 minutes remaining the home side scored again through James Lowe, with replacement and fellow Kiwi, Jamison Gibson-Park setting him up. However, Frawley missed the chance of putting seven between the two missing the kick.
Four minutes on substitute Vakh Abdaladze broke into the Scarlets 22, with fellow sub Noel Reid kicking, ahead for Barry Daly to cross the whitewash. Frawley kicked over the conversion this time to mwhitewash10.
Scarlets ensured a nervy finish scoring a minute later with Kieran Hardy completing his brace thanks to fine work from McNicholl. Dan Jones converted to put five between the teams with five minutes left.
However, Leinster kept the Scarlets out to hold on for the win and maintain their 100% home record this season.
After the game Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac reflected on his sides missed opportunities in the opening half.
“We created some opportunities in the first half and didn’t convert. We had three clean line-breaks and need to convert at least one of those. So, to be 10 points down at half time was pretty disappointing,” he said.
The loss will be tough on the Scarlets who will feel it was one that got away, but they must pick themselves up as they head to current second placed Treviso next.
Leinster head to Zebre as they look to continue their quest for back to back titles.
Munster confirm Zebo signing
This co-funded contract will see Munster’s all-time record try-scorer return from Racing 92 and line out for his home club where he made 144 appearances and scored 60 tries between 2010 and 2018.
In his third season with the Top 14 side, the 31-year-old has played 55 times and scored 21 tries to date.
Head Coach Johann van Graan said, “The opportunity to bring Simon back to Munster came about in early April following a final review of our squad’s budgetary position for season-end and with assistance from the IRFU to support what we believe is a really good deal for Munster and Irish Rugby.
“Simon’s desire to return to Ireland and play with his home club is illustrated by his willingness to sign at a level below his market value elsewhere. This has made bringing the province’s all-time leading try-scorer back home, possible.”
Simon Zebo said, “I am thrilled and honoured to be coming back home to play for Munster. My family and I have been so lucky to have enjoyed three incredible years with Racing 92 in Paris and I cannot thank the team there enough, I really have made friends for life and take with me some brilliant memories.
“However, as everyone knows, Munster holds a very special place in my heart and I’ve always said that I wanted to play for them and potentially Ireland again, so when this opportunity arose the lure of being close to home, family and friends and Munster fans, it outweighed all other options. I cannot wait to get back to the HPC with the team and hopefully a packed Thomond Park.”
Ulster Rugby agree to release Coetzee early
Marcell Coetzee has played his last game for Ulster Rugby.
With back-row, Marcell Coetzee, currently side-lined with a hamstring injury, Ulster Rugby has agreed terms which will see the player released from the club at the end of this month, ahead of his planned departure at the conclusion of the 2020/21 season.
Given the need for several weeks of rehabilitation following the injury sustained by Coetzee in last month’s Guinness PRO14 fixture against Leinster, Ulster Rugby and the player have reached a mutual agreement to part ways on Friday 30 April.
Head of Rugby Operations and Recruitment, Bryn Cunningham, said: “We have come to an agreement that will allow Marcell the time and space required to continue his rehab.
Lowry retained at 10 for Ulster v Zebre
21-year-old, Cormac Izuchukwu will make his first start for the Ulster men as he is named in the second row alongside Kieran Treadwell. Marty Moore comes back into the starting front row at tighthead, with Eric O’Sullivan and John Andrew retaining their starting berths at loosehead and hooker. Jordi Murphy will captain the side at openside flanker, with Sean Reidy and David McCann being retained at blindside and Number Eight.
A youthful back line sees Ethan McIlroy coming into the back three at full-back, with Rob Lyttle on the left wing and Robert Baloucoune returning on the right. Stewart Moore and James Hume will make up the midfield pairing, while John Cooney and Michael Lowry are named at half-back.
Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor and Matty Rea are the forward reinforcements, with David Shanahan, Ian Madigan and Ben Moxham providing the back line options on the bench.
Ulster team to play Zebre Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 16, Friday 19 March at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 8.15pm, live on Premier Sports / eir Sport):
(15-9) Ethan McIlroy, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle, Michael Lowry, John Cooney;
(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, John Andrew, Marty Moore, Cormac Izuchukwu, Kieran Treadwell, Sean Reidy, Jordy Murphy (Capt.), David McCann.
Replacements: Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Matty Rea, David Shanahan, Ian Madigan, Ben Moxham.