Pat Lam laments conceding late penalty in defeat to Scarlets
Steve Shingler’s dramatic strike wounds Connacht’s chance of a Pro12 playoff spot
Connacht’s Matt Healy runs in their first try against Scarlets in their Pro12 match at Parc y Scarlets, Wales. Photograph: Inpho
Jack Carty’s penalty three minutes from time looked to have snatched a first win at Parc Y Scarlets after Matt Healy’s length of the field try had put the Galway side in pole position.
But an illegal clear-out from Porter with 20 seconds left allowed the Scarlets replacement to snatch a 21-19 triumph and top-spot in the league.
“There is a lot of frustration after that, we haven’t won down here and that was a huge blow for the boys, who consistently put effort in,” said Lam.
“To get ahead with three minutes to go and throw it away at the end is gutting for everyone.”
It looked like it was going to be a long afternoon for the Galway side when Bundee Aki barged into counterpart Regan King off the ball to earn himself a yellow card.
John Muldoon was stopped just short, before the ball spilled out of the ruck into the in-goal area. Wales prop Rob Evans failed to take action, and Eoghan Masterson stole in to touchdown, but he was adjudged not to have got enough downward pressure on the ball.
But 10 points in five minutes gave the visitors a huge chance to claim their first win at Parc Y Scarlets.
King was shown yellow for slowing the ball at a ruck, and Craig Ronaldson fired Connacht ahead with a penalty, before Ireland hopeful Healy gave Joe Schmidt a nudge.
A knock-on from prop Evans presented the ball to Aki, who drew in Steff Evans and fed Healy, who raced home from 80 metres.
Ronaldson converted before Aled Thomas pulled a penalty back for the Scarlets, but Connacht went in with a seven point lead.
The West Wales high-fliers returned from changing rooms with renewed vigour, and snatched the lead within six second-half minutes.
Thomas landed a second penalty, before full-back Michael Collins chased his own clearing kick and charged down the return to set the hosts on the attack.
Parkes burrowed down the middle before the ball was swung wide for wing Evans to slide in at the corner.
Ronaldson levelled with a penalty before the Scarlets landed a hefty blow through full-back Collins. Regan King burst through a gap in the defence, and Collins was on his shoulder to finish.
But Connacht’s fight for a playoff place received a major boost with three minutes go when Mitrea caught the Scarlets offside on their own 10 metre line.
Carty stepped up and slotted the penalty to give Lam’s men a 19-18 advantage but it was snatched away from them at the death.
Porter tipped Aaron Shingler onto his neck at a ruck, and his brother Steven slotted the penalty for a 21-19 triumph.
Scoring sequence - Ronaldson pen (0-3), Healy try (0-8), Ronaldson con (0-10), Thomas pen (3-10), Thomas pen (6-10), Evans try (11-10). SCARLETS: M Collins; S Evans, R King, H Parkes, DTH van der Merwe; A Thomas, A Davies; R Evans, K Owens (capt), S Lee, T Price, L Rawlins, A Shingler, J Barclay, M Allen. Replacements: R Williams for A Davies (54 mins), S Hughes for King (67 mins), M Paulino for Rawlins , S Shingler for Thomas (both 72 mins), R Jones for Lee (76 mins). CONNACHT: T O’Halloran; N Adeolokun, B Aki, C Ronaldson, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; F Bealham, T McCartney, N White, U Dillane, A Browne, J Muldoon (capt), J Heenan, E Masterson. Replacements: A Muldowney for Browne (9 mins), R Perata for Ronaldson (63 mins), I Porter for Marmion (76 mins), R Ah You for White, R Loughney for Bealham (67 mins), D Heffernan for McCartney, S O’Brien for J Heenan (both 68 mins). Referee: Marius Mitrea (ITA)