London Irish (18) 25 Tries: Danaher, Seveali'i, Tagicakibau Cons: Lamb 2 Pen: Lamb Drop-goal: Lamb Scarlets (18) 27 Tries: D Evans, M Jones Con: S Jones Pens: S Jones 5
Stephen Jones celebrates at the final whistle with Matthew Rees
A late Stephen Jones penalty handed the Scarlets a dramatic Heineken Cup win against heavy pre-match favourites London Irish at the Madejski Stadium.
The scores were tied 18-18 at the break as the visitors matched tries by Declan Danaher and Elvis Seveali'i with scores from Dan Evans and Mark Jones.
A length-of-the field Sailosi Tagicakibau interception score seemed to have sealed the Exiles a victory.
But Evans' late break drew the hosts offside and Jones did the rest.
Triumph allowed the Scarlets to take pole position in Pool 6 following their opening win against Brive, a deserved position after their unheralded pack gave the Exiles' high-regarded forwards a tough afternoon.
With 15 minutes to go, prolific Samoan winger Sailosi Tagicakibau ran in his seventh try of the season to give the Exiles sight of victory.
But with little over a minute remaining on the clock, substitute Peter Richards conceded a penalty in front of the posts and Jones landed the decisive kick.
Wales fly-half Jones was in outstanding form, kicking magnificently throughout to finish with 17 points and showing composure to help the Scarlets to victory.
Irish edged the try count 3-2 with Danaher and Seveali'i also going over, but the spoils could have gone either way in a compelling contest.
Evans' individual try was the highlight for the Scarlets while skipper Mark Jones also touched down in a roller-coaster encounter.
Seilala Mapusua's bulldozing run through midfield in the game's opening attack paved the way for number eight Chris Hala'ufia to send back row colleague Danaher over.
Lamb landed a drop goal shortly after, but the Scarlets hit back with a moment of individual brilliance from Evans.
The full-back chipped over the Exiles' advancing line, gathered and raced around Hewat before winning the 25-metre race to the line.
Jones' conversion and a penalty sandwiched three points from Lamb, but once again Irish pulled clear with an all-Samoan try though Seveali'i.
Mapusua was again the creator, this time using his boot to chip through to Seveali'i who pounced on the kind bounce and touched down.
The ebb and flow continued as Scarlets replied two minutes later when skipper Jones escaped a congested left wing to out-pace Hewat' with a crafty chip that he got fingertips to in the left corner.
Homer was shown a yellow card for taking wing Jones out in the air and when fly-half Jones slotted a penalty, the sides entered half-time level at 18-18.
The visitors could have taken the lead shortly into the second half, pulverising their opponents at a scrum and winning two more before centre Jonathan Davies almost broke free.
But the Irish withstood the pressure, although the momentum had clearly shifted the Scarlets' way and when Jones added his third penalty the visitors were in the driving seat.
However, Irish clawed their way back into contention and were inches short of crossing through Tagicakibau following Lamb's good work.
Jones struck the uprights with a penalty and in the 66th minute the Exiles landed what looked the killer blow.
Seeking to exploit space on the right, Evans' pass was intercepted by Tagicakibau and the Samoan still raced to the other end to score.
The tension continued to the final whistle after Jones booted his fourth penalty to snatch a famous win.
London Irish head coach Toby Booth (on the late penalty conceded by Peter Richards):
"The ball was killed stoned dead and Peter made a call. If you argue that Sailosi Tagicakibau's interception try was lucky and look at some of the mistakes we made, then the blame certainly doesn't lie at Peter Richards' door.
"No chance - we all take responsibility for what happens out on the field.
"Of course you despair when you concede a lead like that. We'd got ourselves back in front but this game has a habit of teaching you a lesson.
"We were taught a lesson in certain areas of the pitch. That game contained more mistakes by us than in eight months last year.
"Take nothing away from Scarlets, they were good for their victory in the end.
"But we're disappointed because what was a winnable game slipped through our fingers."
Scarlets boss Nigel Davies:
"The fact we've been written off has been a motivating factor for us.
"When I've looked at some of the programs and what's been written in the media I've seen that we've barely been mentioned.
"I've used that quite a bit as motivation. We have quality with some youngsters who put their hands up.
"The fact the game wasn't on TV was disappointing as well because it was second to none as a spectacle.
"This is a team in transition and we're building the side but our recent performances have been positive and I felt we could do this.
"We were superb against a quality team. We kept going despite the interception try and that's what you need to do against big teams.
"It's a massive win for us but it's still a tough pool. We have two massive games against Leinster so there's a long way to go.
"But we're in a strong position and we'll go into those fixtures high in confidence."
London Irish: Hewat; Homer, Seveali'i, Mapusua, Tagicakibau; Lamb, Hodgson; Murphy, Paice, Rautenbach, Kennedy, Casey, Danaher, Stowers, Hala'ufia. Replacements: Richards for Seveali'i (59), Dermody for Murphy (67), Coetzee for Paice (64), Ion for Rautenbach (54), Perry for Casey (59), Lennard for Danaher (71), Thorpe for Stowers (54). Not Used: Lalanne.
Sin Bin: Homer (36).
Scarlets: Evans; Williams, Lamont, Davies, M Jones; S Jones, Roberts, I Thomas, Rees, Manu, Reed, Day, Easterby, D Jones, Lyons. Replacements: Higgitt for Davies (58), John for I. Thomas (67), Owen for Rees (60), Cooper for Reed (60), Pugh for Easterby (60). Not Used: Corsi, Knoyle, Priestland.
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