Saturday, 31 October 2009

Connacht 16 - 10 Scarlets

In front of a crowd of less than 2,000 and with conditions playing a role in the style of performance, Connacht fly half Ian Keatley ably kicked 11 of the 16 points which included the conversion of Mike McComish's first-half try as Connacht achieved a much need first win out of their last four Magners League outings.

The Scarlets had won 8 of the last 12 games against Connacht prior to this encounter but put in a first half performance that did not match up to their last three victorious outings.

With a number of front line players missing through international duties or injury this week and with experienced prop Deacon Manu a late Scarlets withdrawal, a below par first half Scarlets performance lacked its characteristic control and flair and saw Connacht move 13-0 ahead from two Keatley penalties on 15 mins and 18 mins.

Following a strong performance with the boot last week against the Dragons, Rhys Priestland missed his first shot at the posts just 12 minutes into the game following a decent spell of early possession by the Scarlets.

The first half also saw two sin bins; one on Connacht's centre Keith Matthews who was shown the yellow card for a late tackle and the other just nine minutes later from Scarlets lock Vernon Cooper.

Within three minutes of the
Scarlets sin binning, Connacht took advantage with a powerful scrum and O'Connor popped an inside pass to set up athletic number eight McComish for an opening try which was promptly converted by Keatley.

The Scarlets pack didn't show its usual mettle and often played second fiddle to the hosts in the opening quarter - with the Connacht back row of John Muldoon, Johnny O'Connor and McComish swarming over the breakdown area.

Scarlets came back at the hosts in the third quarter with a strong rally - and with Connacht prop Brett Wilkinson the third player to see yellow, Priestland hammered over the resulting kick at 57 minutes to get the Scarlets off the mark at 13 - 3.

With a number of Scarlets substitutions in the final 10 minutes which saw Aaron Shingler, Josh Turnbull, Jamie Corsi, Emyr Philips, Gareth Davies, Gareth Maule and Dan Newton all take to the field, as the visitors tried to up the intensity.

However, Keatley thumped a long-range penalty over to further the lead at 16-3 at 66 minutes.

But the Scarlets spirit continued and their efforts paid off when in-form winger Lee Williams broke through for a characteristic try in the corner at 78 minutes (16-8).

Up stepped promising young Scarlets fly half, 19 year-old Daniel Newton, who will be pleased that his kick ensured the Scarlets left the Sportsground with a losing bonus point.

Scarlets remained in eighth position in the Magners League last night with 11 points, a point ahead of the Blues but two points behind the Dragons and six behind the Ospreys.

Final Score: Connacht 16
Scarlets 10.

Scarlets: Priestland Pen (1) Lee Williams Try (1) Daniel Newton Conv (1)
Connacht: Keatley Pen (3) & Conv (1) McComish Try (1)
Attendance: 1,750

Scarlets: Evans, Stoddart, Lamont, Higgitt, Williams, Priestlend, Knoyle, I. Thomas, Owen, Manu, Cooper, Welch, Easterby, Pugh, Lyons. Replacements: Maule for Higgitt (72), Newton for Priestlend (72), G. Davies for Knoyle (72), Phillips for Owen (72), Corsi for John (72), Shingler for Cooper (62), Turnbull for Easterby (62).

Connacht: Duffy, Nathan, Ta'auso, Matthews, Carr, Keatley, F. Murphy, Wilkinson, Cronin, Morris, McCarthy, Upton, Muldoon, O'Connor, McComish. Replacements: Flavin for Cronin (73), Hagan for Morris (54), Browne for McCarthy (55), Swift for McComish (66). Not Used: O'Loughlin, Nikora, Bibo. Referee: G Knox (Scotland)


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