Thursday 27 July 2017

Scarlets cruise past Connacht

Connacht 18 Scarlets 30

Marnitz Boshoff of Connacht kicks a penalty Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Marnitz Boshoff of Connacht kicks a penalty Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

A brilliant first-half secured Scarlets' spot in the Guinness PRO12 semi-final as Connacht collapsed to their fifth home defeat of the season. Four flowing tries in the first 31 minutes gave Scarlets all five points and set up a last-four date with either Leinster or Munster in three weeks' time.

All four tries were scored down the left side as Steff Evans (twice) Johnny McNicholl and Lions bound Liam Williams all rounded off flowing moves that cut Connacht to shreds.

Liam Williams scored a try as Connacht were outclassed. Photo: Sportsfile
Liam Williams scored a try as Connacht were outclassed. Photo: Sportsfile

Scarlets were totally dominant up front as the physicality of Jake Ball and Tadhg Beirne stood out, while the sharp breakdown effort of Aaron Shingler and Joshua Macleod meant Connacht rarely had quick ball to play with.

Marnitz Boshoff started for just the second time for Connacht and he kicked their only points of the first-half in the ninth minute in response to McNicholl's early opener. Boshoff brought an extra kicking dimension to Connacht's game, but he also struggled to judge the wind on occasion.

Departing coach Pat Lam will be disappointed with his side's display Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Departing coach Pat Lam will be disappointed with his side's display Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Steff Evans laid on the opener, but then ran in two tries of his own in the 14th and 26th minutes. The lightening winger then turned provider again nine minutes from the interval for Williams as Scarlets took a 22-3 lead into the interval.

With the win wrapped up Wayne Pivac withdrew Williams, Ken Owens and Jonathan Davies, while Connacht called on some of their leaders and it had an impact, as Craig Ronaldson scored after some patient play from Caolin Blade in the 58th minute.

Patchell added a penalty 14 minutes from time to make doubly sure of the win, but the last action was left to DTH van der Merwe who wrapped it up two minutes from time.

Scorers - Connacht: C Ronaldson try; M Boshoff pen. Scarlets: J McNicholl, S Evans (2), L Williams, DTH van der Merwe tries; R Patchell con, pen

Connacht: T O'Halloran (D Poolman 72); D Leader, T Farrell, E Griffin (C Ronaldson 23 HIA), C Kelleher; M Boshoff, C Blade (J Cooney 62); F Bealham (JP Cooney 68), D Heffernan (S Delahunt 68), D Robertson-McCoy (D Buckley h-t); J Cannon (Q Roux 47), A Browne; S O'Brien, J Heenan, E Masterson (J Muldoon 47).

Scarlets: J McNicholl; L Williams (DTH van der Merwe h-t), J Davies (S Williams 53), H Parkes, S Evans (G Davies 53); R Patchell, J Evans; R Evans (W Jones 66), K Owens (R Elias 53), S Lee (W Kruger h-t); J Ball (D Bulbring 39), T Beirne; A Shingler (L Rawlings 72), J Macleod, W Boyde.

Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU).

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