Carty carries Connacht to crucial win

Connacht: 29
Scarlets: 23

Jack Carty led the way with 14 points off the tee as Connacht held on to defeat Scarlets for their first-ever win at Parc y Scarlets in the latest round of URC fixtures.

It was also the Westerners’ first away win of the season and their first win in Llanelli in 12 games.

Andy Friend’s side had to withstand a late resurgence from the Welsh side towards the end of the game when they were reduced to 14 men but held on to get the well-deserved win.

The harsh weather conditions at the start affected both sides with simple knock-ons, but it was Scarlets who took control of the early stages of the game.

After costly penalties in various phases of play put the Welsh side in scoring range, out-half Dan Jones was able to kick a penalty to put Scarlets in the lead after four minutes of play.

Scarlets continued to put the pressure on, almost scoring a try moments later, however, Kieran Marmion, who celebrated his 200th appearance for Connacht, put his body on the line and held up prop Samson Lee from bundling over for a score.

Despite the resilience, their defensive efforts would eventually break soon after.

Scarlets scored a try following a great set play. Scott Williams put a grubber kick into space inside the Connacht try-line and Johnny Williams sprinted on and touched down to score the opening try of the game, which was then converted by Jones.

A moment of brilliance on one end turned to a moment to forget on the other, as Jones attempted a cross-field kick on the halfway line and Tom Daly was able to intercept it and put through Sammy Arnold for Connacht’s first try.

That try changed the game, as Connacht began to string successive phases together and Scarlets could not handle the pressure, giving away penalties in scoring range and Jack Carty made no mistake about slotting them through the uprights. Connacht led 11-10 close to halftime.

The lead only lasted a couple of minutes as Jones kicked a penalty from 35 metres out but then just before the break, the veteran Marmion forced a turnover with quick hands and Connacht went on the attack.

Paul Boyle and Cian Prendergast were both stopped short of the goal-line before Leva Fifitia found a gap and the Tongan lock barrelled over for his first try for Connacht, Carty’s conversion made it 18-13 at the half.

Carty kicked another two penalties to put Connacht up 24-13 by the 50-minute mark and put the ball into the corner for another, which led to their third try.

Cian Prendergast won the lineout and Marmion wanted to keep playing with a fast pace, dishing out quick balls before switching the play to Tom Daly, who then sent John Porch in for the score in the left corner with 26 minutes remaining in the game.

Scarlets were awarded a penalty try in the 63rd minute after Fifitia tackled substitute Kieran Hardy from an obvious offside position, for which he was sent to the bin, and this gave Scarlets a glimmer of hope to make the comeback.

With Connacht down to 14 men, Scarlets put the pressure on, however, the Westerners were able to keep their cool, especially when Fifitia was shown a red for his second yellow card, this time, for a late hit on fullback Ioan Nicholas

Substitute Rhys Patchell cut the lead to six with the resultant penalty but Connacht did enough to hold on to the win.

Connacht:

1: Jordan Duggan, 2: Dave Heffernan, 3: Tietie Tuimauga (J. Aungier, 55) 4: Niall Murray, 5: Leva Fifita, 6: Cian Prendergast, 7: Jarrad Butler, 8: Paul Boyle (A. Papali’i, 8-20, 73)
9: Kieran Marmion (C. Blade, 68), 10: Jack Carty (captain), 11: John Porch, 12: Tom Daly,
13: Sammy Arnold (T. Farrell, 64), 14: Peter Sullivan, 15: Tiernan O’Halloran

Subs: 16: Shane Delahunt, 17: Greg McGrath, 18: Jack Aungier, 19: Eoghan Masterson, 20: Abraham Papali’I, 21: Caolin Blade, 22: Conor Fitzgerald, 23: Tom Farrell.

Scarlets:

1: Steff Thomas, 2: Daf Hughes (Marc Jones, 52), 3: Samson Lee (J Sebastian, 45), 4: Sam Lousi, 5: Morgan Jones (J Price, 66), 6: Aaron Shingler (C Tuipulotu, 59), 7: Shaun Evans, 8: Sione Kalamafoni, 9: Dane Blacker (K.Hardy, 45), 10: Dan Jones (R.Patchell, 50), 11: Ryan Conbeer, 12: Scott Williams (captain), 13: Johnny Williams, 14: Tom Rogers, 15: Ioan Nicholas

Subs: 16: Marc Jones, 17: Phil Price, 18: Javan Sebastian, 19: Jac Price, 20: Carwyn Tuipulotu, 21: Kieran Hardy, 22: Rhys Patchell, 23: Joe Roberts

Referee: Craig Evans (Wales).

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