Connacht run out of road after brave fight back against Scarlets

Late Eoin McKeon seals second bonus point in Wales

Scrumhalf Kieran Marmion scored one of Connacht’s four tries against in the RaboDirect Pro 12 defeat to the Scarlets  at Parc y Scarlets. Photograph: Huw Evans/Inpho

Scrumhalf Kieran Marmion scored one of Connacht’s four tries against in the RaboDirect Pro 12 defeat to the Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets. Photograph: Huw Evans/Inpho

Sun, Mar 30, 2014, 16:41

Scarlets 32 Connacht 30: Scarlets had to endure a Connacht comeback late in the second half before claiming a 32-30 bonus-point victory in a dramatic RaboDirect Pro12 contest at a sun-drenched Parc y Scarlets.

Replacement centre Gareth Maule claimed the bonus-point try a minute from time, squeezing under the posts.

But that was after Scarlets saw a 25-11 lead shrink to 25-23 in the space of two minutes following tries by wing Fionn Carr and fullback Robbie Henshaw.

And after Maule’s score, Connacht managed to have the final say with a fourth try for Eoin McKeon to secure two bonus points.

Scarlets welcomed back Rhys Priestland for the first time since the Six Nations and also included their other Wales stars Davies, Liam Williams, Ken Owens, Rhodri Jones and Jake Ball.

The Scarlets cruised into a 7-0 lead inside two minutes through Wales centre Jonathan Davies.

The move began after a quick tapped penalty in their own half by Priestland. Impressive wing Jordan Williams went on a 40-metre run before putting Davies over.

If the home fans thought it was going to be a try-fest in the warm spring sunshine they had to rethink as Connacht replied with two penalties on six and 21 minutes from the boot of Dan Parks.

But Scarlets gave themselves some breathing space three minutes later when Priestland struck a 40-metre penalty from in front of the posts.

Priestland struck the post with a second penalty eight minutes from half-time as Scarlets took a 13-6 lead in to the break.

Four minutes into the second half Priestland had a chance to further improve his side’s lead only to find the post again with his 35-metre attempt.

Two minutes later Richard Kelly, who had replaced Ball at half-time, went over but the referee said the player was held up.

After scoring the opening try Jonathan Davies was involved in the second as scrumhalf Gareth Davies went over under the posts for his ninth try of the campaign. Priestland converted to take his side in to a 20-6 advantage.

Scarlets followed that with an incredible try started with Liam Williams in his own 22. Priestland and Kristian Phillips continued the counter attack finished off by Josh Turnbull.

Scrumhalf Kieran Marmion grabbed a try back for Connacht from a quick tapped penalty as the Irishmen reduced the deficit to 14 points at 25-11.

Connacht finished strongly and grabbed two tries in the space of three minutes.

First Carr latched on to a chip from replacement outhalf Miah Nikora, who also converted to cut the deficit to seven points, and he was followed over by Henshaw.

But Nikora could not convert which would have drawn the scores level.

In a dramatic finish Maule stretched over for the fourth try, but McKeon scored Connacht’s fourth.

SCARLETS: L Williams; K Phillips, J Davies, Barkley, J Williams; Priestland, G Davies; John, Owens, R Jones; Ball, Snyman; Turnbull, Barclay, Timani. Replacements: Kelly for Ball (41 mins), R Williams for G Davies, R Evans for John, E Phillips for Owens (all 57 mins), Maule for Barkley (68 mins), Pungea for R Jones (74 mins), Rawlins for Barclay (78 mins). Not used: A Thomas.

CONNACHT: Henshaw; O’Halloran, E Griffin, McSharry, Carr; Parks, Marmion; Buckley, Harris-Wright, Ah You; Muldowney, Kearney; Muldoon, Masteron, McKeon, Browne. Replacements: White for Ah You (47 mins), Swift for Kearney (51 mins), Heffernan for Harris-Wright, Browne for Masteron (both 54 mins), Loughney for Browne (63 mins), Nikora for Parks (66 mins), D Leader for O’Halloran (69 mins). Not used: F Murphy.

Attendance: 6,111
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland).

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