Connacht's Pro14 campaign off to disappointing start with defeat to Scarlets

All Connacht could muster was a single try from Eoghan Masterson and five points from Conor Fitzgerald.

Connacht’s Shane Delahunt and Peter Robb dejected.
Connacht’s Shane Delahunt and Peter Robb dejected.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Scarlets 18

Connacht 10

Steffan Thomas reports from Llanelli

CONNACHT’S PRO14 CAMPAIGN began in disappointing fashion as they fell to an 18-10 defeat to the Scarlets in Llanelli.

Despite gaining the upper hand physically they failed to break down an understrength Scarlets side.

Tries from Steff Evans and Paul Asquith along with eight from the boot of Dan Jones was enough for the west Walians to get over the line.

All Connacht could muster was a single try from Eoghan Masterson and five points from Conor Fitzgerald.

Connacht made a strong start with the majority of the rugby in a scoreless first quarter played in the Scarlets half.

But the west Walians were the ones who broke the deadlock when discarded Wales wing Steff Evans slid over from short-range after an initial break by Australian centre Asquith.

The Scarlets were now full of confidence and former Crusaders star Johnny McNicholl put them on the front-foot with a scintillating break before being tackled just short of the try line by Jarrad Butler.

But the ball was eventually spun wide to Scarlets captained Steff Hughes who fooled the Connacht defence by dummying a cross kick before putting Asquith over for their second try.

eoghan-masterson Eoghan Masterson scored Connacht's only try. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Connacht finally got themselves on the scoreboard at the stroke of half-time with Fitzgerald knocking over the three points after the Scarlets were caught offside with the Irish province trailing 12-3 at the interval.

Connacht couldn’t have made a worse start to the second-half with inside centre Tom Daly sent to the sin bin for offside allowing Jones to extend the home sides lead with a simple penalty kick.

As the heavens opened and the conditions got worse Connacht’s pack began to dominate with the visitors proceeding to lay side to the Scarlets line with Masterson powering his way over the line to make it a one score game.

Jones extended the Scarlets lead with another three points to claim the first victory of the Brad Mooar era.

Scarlets scorers:

Tries: S Evans 20, Asquith 35

Conversions: D Jones 35

Penalties: D Jones 45, 60

Connacht scorers:

Tries: Masterson 55

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Conversions: Fitzgerald 56

Penalties: C Fitzgerald 38

SCARLETS: McNicholl, Conbeer (Baldwin 60), Asquith, Hughes, S Evans; D Jones, Hardy; R Evans (Price 52), M Jones (Davies 63), Lee (Kruger 63), Cummins (Helps 56), Rawlins, Phillips, Macleod, Cassiem (Davis 64).

Replacements not used: Blacker, O’Brien, Baldwin.

CONNACHT: O’Halloran; S Fitzgerald, Godwin, Daly (Robb 65), Healey (Leader 47); C Fitzgerald, Blade (Marmion 50); McAllister (D Buckley 45), McCartney (Delahunt 56), Bealham (Robertson-McCoy 56), Thornbury (Dillane 51), Roux, Masterson, Fainga’a (McKeon 36), Butler. 

Referee: Stuart Berry

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