McLaughlin: I know we're good enough
An opportunist Andrew Trimble try was not enough for Ulster as Brian McLaughlin's men left Parc y Scarlets with just a Pro12 losing bonus point on Saturday.
The Scarlets led 13-3 at half-time after a Liam Williams try, but returning Ireland winger Trimble pounced on 64 minutes as Ulster threatened to snatch another dramatic win in south west Wales.
But it was not to be and on-form Scarlets centre Adam Warren cruised over for the match-winning score.
Ulster were boosted by the return of six of their World Cup stars, but it made little difference as they crashed to their fourth consecutive defeat, slipping to ninth in the table.
They host Connacht on Saturday before entering Heineken Cup action.
"The positive is we got the bonus point and it was important that we came back with something. But I'm disappointed that we didn't come back with more," said coach McLaughlin.
"Their try before half-time was a real turning point and maybe we were unfortunate not to get a few more points on the board.
"They started the second half well, but credit to my side, they fought back. Last year we were able to nick a narrow win here and it's the small margins that you win or lose a game on.
"It's a tight league and there are no easy victories. You have to earn the right to win but we were a little bit off the money.
"We're not where we want to be and our results haven't been the best. We have a tough programme coming up and it's important that we get back to the level we're capable of playing.
"We know we are good enough, we just have to make sure our preparation and organisation is spot on."
Ian Humphreys kicked Ulster into a 3-0 lead on five minutes, but the Scarlets fought back with two Aled Thomas penalties.
And with half-time approaching, the Scarlets clinched a crucial try when Williams ghosted through Ulster's defence to score beneath the posts. Thomas slotted the conversion to hand his side a 13-3 lead at the interval.
Humphreys continued to chip away at the Scarlets lead and slotted a penalty either side of another successful strike from Thomas.
McLaughlin's men continued their resurgence with Trimble showing his predatory instincts.
Ruan Pienaar threaded a kick into the right-hand corner and Trimble took full advantage after Jonathan Edwards hesitated over the try-line. Humphreys could have levelled the scores, but his conversion agonisingly struck the upright.
The Scarlets, however, struck back when Warren went around Nevin Spence for the match-winning try on 73 minutes, making the score 21-14.
Replacement out-half Dan Newton added a penalty to put the hosts 10 points in front before Humphreys was able to salvage a bonus point with a penalty a minute from time.
Scarlets -- D Evans; L Williams (S Williams 59), S Lamont, A Warren, A Fenby; A Thomas (D Newton 76), R Williams (T Knoyle 45); R Jones (P John, 61), K Owens (M Rees 45), R Thomas (S Gardiner 78); D Day (A Shingler 75), D Welch; R McCusker (capt), J Edwards (R Pugh 66), B Morgan.
Ulster -- S Danielli (A D'Arcy 56); A Trimble, N Spence, P Wallace (D Cave 66), C Gilroy; I Humphreys, R Pienaar (P Marshall 79); P McAllister (A Macklin 75), A Kyriacou (N Brady 71), T Court; J Muller (capt), D Tuohy (L Stevenson 66); P Wannenburg, M McComish (R Diack 66), C Henry.
Ref -- A Falzone (Italy).