SKIPPER Scott Williams produced a man of the match performance as Scarlets took the derby spoils in a thrilling 22-19 win over his former club Ospreys on New Year's Day.

The Carmarthenshire man led by example in the midfield as Scarlets moved up to ninth position in the United Rugby Championship table, while Ospreys remain fourth.

“It was like the first game of the season, to be honest,” Williams told S4C.

“It's nice to be playing rugby again. "We've had a couple of tough weeks and we've had everything thrown at us. It's nobody's fault, but it's difficult.

“But the boys have kept at it, fair play to them. Every one of them has focused on trying to play every week and it's nice to get the win.

“It would have been nice to have a crowd here to be honest, but there's nothing we can do about that,” he added.

“We had to win the game and we felt that maybe we could have had a few more points in the end, but we're pleased with the win.”

In their first match for 10 weeks, the home side dug deep in the second half to secure a deserved win, which extended their unbeaten home run over their arch rivals to seven years.

Johnny McNicholl's late try saw Scarlets claim the victory behind closed doors, after Rhys Webb's two tries looked to have given Ospreys a first win at Parc y Scarlets since 2015.

"It could have gone either way to be fair," said Scarlets coach Dwayne Peel.

"I was really happy with the second-half performance, because the first half we were in and out of the game, we showed some good stuff but were error-ridden as well.

"Physically I'm really happy because you don't know how you're going to fare. There's a long way to go but games will give us fitness."

Livewire scrum-half Gareth Davies had benefitted from some good work by the pack to go over for an early try for the home team.

But the Scarlets were dealt a blow as flanker Josh Macleod hobbled off with a hamstring problem just 10 minutes into his long-awaited return after an Achilles injury.

Ospreys turned down kickable penalties in hunt for a try, but their pressure paid off when Webb crossed from close in, before making an unsubstantiated allegation of eye-gouging.

Former sevens star Luke Morgan set up a 50-metre sprint chase for Ospreys' second try, and they held a five-point half-time lead - before the Scarlets hit back in the second half.

Replacement fly-half Rhys Patchell released the backs to find Steff Evans in acres of space on the left wing, and he crossed to bring the scores level, though the conversion hit the woodwork.

Ospreys responded when former Scarlet Jac Morgan make good ground and Webb once again darted over from close range, with young fly-half Josh Thomas adding the extras from the touchline.

Scarlets were not done, however, and Sam Lousi released McNicholl down the wing to race in for his first try, and despite missed shots at goal by Patchell, Scarlets pushed on and were rewarded in the end.

With the clock ticking down to full time, a powerful carry from Aaron Shingler caught the Ospreys defence narrow and McNicholl had a free run to the line for the bonus-point score.

"It was brutally disappointing, we had enough opportunities to win it twice over," said Ospreys head coach Toby Booth.

"We've been over the line two, three times and you've got to convert and we didn't and that's really, really disappointing, especially given the nature of the festive, New Year derby against your closest rivals.

"It stings a lot for sure."

SCARLETS: L Williams; McNicholl, S Hughes, S Williams (capt), S Evans; D Jones, G Davies; R Evans, Elias, O'Connor, Lousi, T Price, Thomson, Macleod, Kalamafoni. Replacements: D Hughes, S Thomas, W GriffJohn, Shingler, Lezana, Hardy, Patchell, T Rogers.

OSPREYS: D Evans; Giles, Collins, Watkin, L Morgan; J Thomas, Webb (capt); N Smith, Taione, Francis, Griffiths, Beard, Roots, J Morgan, M Morris. Replacements: Lake, G Thomas, Botha, Ashley, Cross, Aubrey, Hawkins, K Williams.

Referee: Adam Jones (WRU). Assistant Referees: Ben Breakspear (WRU), Rhys Jones (WRU). TMO: Sean Brickell (WRU).