Glasgow Warriors gave themselves a chance at stealing a home semi-final away from Leinster’s grasp, as second half tries from Hefin O’Hare and Bernardo Stortoni helped them edge out the Scarlets on a 37-32 scoreline.
Glasgow Warriors struggled to put the lowly Scarlets away, but a clinching try from full-back Bernardo Stortoni gave them a hard-earned bonus point and a sniff of a home semi-final.
As things stand, Glasgow are second in the table and a single point ahead of Leinster who host Edinburgh at the RDS on Sunday evening.
There are plenty of permutations, but Sean Lineen’s men will be hoping that their Scottish rivals can do them a favour and deny Leinster any match points.
As ever, out-half Dan Parks played a leading role for the Warriors, converting the tries from DTH van der Merwe, Calum Forrester, Hefin O’Hare and Stortoni and kicked three penalties for a 17-point haul.
Speaking afterwards, Glasgow coach Lineen said: "It wasn’t a classic game of rugby and it was very loose. We didn’t have the physicality that we demanded and our defence was pretty paper thin at times.
"We came here to get a bonus point and we got it. Unfortunately, the Ospreys got one as well, so we will have to wait and see what Leinster do.
"Over the season, we have made huge strides and I am really proud of the way they have stuck together through the season.
"We need to raise our game at least four or five levels to compete with whoever we play against (in the semi-finals) because the teams that are left in are incredibly physical."
The Scarlets led on three separate occasions and carried on where they left off against Connacht last time out, with full-back Daniel Evans registering an eighth minute try.
Winger Lee Williams touched down in first half injury-time, reducing the arrears to 17-16, and experienced fly-half Stephen Jones became the Scarlets’ record points scorer courtesy of a converted try in the 43rd minute.
Jones beat the record held by Andy Hill (2596 points), with the Wales and Lions ace’s new mark standing at 2612.
Bidding for their fourth straight league win, Glasgow thought they had got off to an ideal start. Just four minutes in, a clever dummy by hooker Fergus Thomson helped late call-up O’Hare, who came in for the injured Max Evans, get over for a try.
But the score was disallowed by referee James Jones for a forward pass and it was the Scarlets who broke the deadlock, four minutes later.
The Scarlets threaded the passes and ran at pace before Evans dotted down in the corner off a Williams pass, with Jones missing the conversion.
Glasgow hit back quickly as Parks knocked over his first penalty and then, on the quarter hour mark, the Scotland international provided the try-scoring pass for Canadian winger van der Merwe to go over for a seven-pointer.
Jones clawed three points back with a straightforward penalty effort, but Glasgow were showing their potency and they earned their second try, once more through the midfield route.
Parks turned creator again as flanker Forrester was put through a considerable hole in the Scarlets defence. Parks tagged on the extras for a sudden 17-8 advantage.
Nonetheless, a sin-binning for Glasgow flanker Kelly Brown for coming in at the side of a ruck allowed Jones kick a steadying penalty and the Scarlets followed up with a timely try, just before the break.
It was just a one-point game – 17-16 – after a bout of late pressure yielded a try for Williams wrestled his way over in the corner.
Jones missed the conversion and a chance to push his side ahead, but he did just that in the opening minutes of the second half. The Scarlets turned the screw in the scrum, with Brown still off the pitch, and Jones was able to breeze in under the posts for a well-executed try.
The Scarlets record breaker added the conversion for good measure and swapped a brace of penalties each with Parks as the home side maintained a six-point buffer – 29-23 – coming up to the hour mark.
However, against the run of play, O’Hare got the try his performance deserved when he finished off a lively counter attack to register the visitors’ third try.
Scarlets full-back Evans had dropped the ball during a promising phase for his side, and the Glasgow were clinical in the next attack, setting O’Hare up for his try which Parks converted for a 30-29 lead.
As a flurry of replacements arrived on the pitch, Glasgow struck for their bonus point score with twelve minutes remaining. Parks dangled a crossfield kick in the direction of O’Hare and he was able to offload to the supporting Stortoni to break through and score.
Parks’ seventh successful place-kick of the night put eight points between the sides. Jones missed a penalty chance but converted a second opportunity, following the sin-binning of Glasgow scrum Mark McMillan for a ruck offence.
The penalty reduced the margin to five points with five minutes to go, but there was no final push from Nigel Davies’ side as Glasgow held on to take a tight verdict which could stand to them in the knockout stages.