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Connacht miss chance to put Scarlets away on miserable night in Galway

The Welsh side prevailed in dreadful conditions at the Sportsground to eke out a narrow win.

Gavin Thornbury blocks Dane Blacker's kick.
Gavin Thornbury blocks Dane Blacker's kick.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Connacht 14

Scarlets 20

THIS WAS THE sort of game Andy Friend had really targeted for Connacht to win if they are to nail a home quarter-final spot but after a couple of idle weeks they were unable to reproduce the cohesion which saw them win in Edinburgh last time out.

They had the chances to complete a comeback from 13 points down early in the second-half but lacked a cutting edge close to the line and in the end had to settle for a losing bonus point against a side they have two games in hand over and who were only a point ahead of them in the table before this.

But Scarlets did enough for a badly needed win for Welsh rugby and it showed just after the game the way they celebrated just how much it meant to them.

They led 13-7 at the break having used with the strong breeze in the opening half to kick for good territory and score identical tries in the right corner.

Ryan Conbeer, the former Welsh U-20 winger, scored both of them, giving them a good start after seven minutes when Scarlets created an overlap across the field from the left with winger Steff Evans swinging around to put his opposite number in at the right corner.

Connacht hit back 16 minutes when lock Gavin Thornbury retrieved a lost lineout and with Ultan Dillane getting a good drive, they were stopped short of the line before No.8 Abraham Papali’I crowned his home debut by looping off a maul to score under the posts.

alex-wootton-and-steff-evans Connacht's Alex Wootton tackles Steff Evans. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Jack Carty added the conversion but ten minutes from the break he spilled a swirling clearance from Evans and from the resultant lineout Scarlets again created an over as they went across from the left for Conbeer to score despite tackles from John Porch and Alex Wootton.

Dan Jones again missed the conversion but he added a penalty from 20 metres to leave them six ahead at the break.

Scrum-half Dane Blacker finished off a breakaway try three minutes after the restart to leave Connacht with a mountain to climb at 20-7 adrift.

Blacker got back to deny Porch in the left corner and then captain Steff Hughes did likewise to dispossess Matt Healy just as he was about to score after 57 minutes.

But Connacht got hope heading into the final quarter when a drive off a scrum by Paul Boyle was stopped short but quickly recycled and Dillane got the touchdown after being drive over by his second row partner Thornbury. Carty converted to make it 20-14.

Connacht had chances to snatch it, the closest coming six minutes from time after a series of drives in the right corner but Denis Buckley was pinged for a knock-on over the line and Scarlets escaped with their third win of the campaign.

Scorers

Connacht:

Tries: A Papali’i, U Dillane

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Cons: J Carty (2/2)

Scarlets

Tries: R Conbeer (2), D Blacker

Cons: D Jones (1/3)

Pens: D Jones (1/1)

Connacht: John Porch,  Alex Wootton, Sammy Arnold (Tom Farrell 65), Tom Daly, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Colm Reilly (Kieran Marmion 43); Paddy McAllister (Denis Buckley 48), Shane Delahunt, Conor Kenny (Jack Aungier 46), Ultan Dillane (Eoghan Masterson 61), Gavin Thornbury, Paul Boyle, Jarrad Butler (CAPT), Abraham Papali’i (Conor Oliver 46)

Scarlets: Johnny McNicholl; Ryan Conbeer, Steff Hughes (CAPT), Paul Asquith (Tyler Morgan 58), Steff Evans; Dan Jones (Angus O’Brien 67), Dane Blacker (Will Homer 69); Rob Evans (Phil Price 49), Taylor Davies (Daf Hughes 49), Javan Sebastian (Werner Kruger 49), Sam Lousi (Danny Drake 58), Morgan Jones, Ed Kennedy (Uzair Cassiem 69), Jac Morgan, Sione Kalamafoni.

Referee: Sam Grove-White (SRU)

About the author:

John Fallon

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