Wednesday 7 December 2016

Williams strikes twice to down sorry Connacht

Scarlets 17 Connacht 8

Tim Lewis

Published 25/09/2016 | 02:30

Connacht's Eoin McKeon is tackled by Aaron Shingler of Scarlets during the Guinness PRO12 Round 4 at Parc Y Scarlets, Llanelli. Photo: Chris Fairweather/Sportsfile
Connacht's Eoin McKeon is tackled by Aaron Shingler of Scarlets during the Guinness PRO12 Round 4 at Parc Y Scarlets, Llanelli. Photo: Chris Fairweather/Sportsfile
Connacht's Kieran Marmion makes a break during the match against the Scarlets. Photo: Chris Fairweather/Sportsfile
Liam Williams crossed twice for Scarlets

Connacht's disastrous start to the season continued as two tries from Liam Williams secured the Scarlets' first win of the campaign. Last season's title winners were bottom of the Pro12 going into the match following Treviso's win over the Newport Gwent-Dragons on Friday night, with the Scarlets directly above them in 11th.

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The reigning champions remain rooted to the bottom of the table after another poor showing against a Scarlets side who looked well short of confidence themselves.

Pat Lam's side had shaded a scrappy first half at Parc y Scarlets but a try in each half from Wales international Liam Williams was enough to end the Scarlets' dismal form at the beginning of the new campaign.

Lam had made six changes from the side that struggled in Zebre before the game was abandoned and was then forced into a late switch when Andrew Brown was withdrawn because of a thigh problem, with Ultan Dillane moving into the second row and Eoin McKeon starting at flanker.

The Scarlets had only made one switch from the side that lost to Ulster, with Aaron Shingler replacing Lewis Rawlins at flanker, but also had to make a late change with Aled Davies coming in for namesake Gareth (illness) at scrum-half.

Head coach Wayne Pivac had bemoaned the Scarlets' bad luck after three straight defeats at the beginning of the new campaign and it showed no sign of changing in the opening quarter of an hour.

Full-back Aled Thomas missed three penalties inside 15 minutes, all of which were well within the range of the 31-year-old. His errors with the boot proved to be costly as Connacht went down the other end of the field and opened the scoring.

Good hands by hooker Tom McCartney put wing Niki Adeolokun over in the corner for the game's first try.

Connacht were let off the hook shortly after when they gave the Scarlets a penalty in the visitors' 22 but after choosing to go to the corner, stand-off Rhys Patchell kicked the ball beyond the dead-ball line.

It was then Carty's turn to fluff his lines with the boot as he missed a straightforward penalty from close range. The home side responded with their first try five minutes before half-time when good work by the Davies brothers, Jonathan and James, put Williams over, with Patchell adding the extras.

Carty then restored Connacht's lead with his first penalty on the stroke of half-time.

Only a superb last-ditch tackle from McCartney stopped Scarlets' wing Steffan Evans getting their second try at the beginning of the second half. Mistakes were littering the contest and both sides were struggling to construct any attacking phases in the worsening weather conditions.

Williams came close to grabbing his second try just after the hour mark but was denied by another excellent tackle, this time from full-back Tiernan O'Halloran.

But he wasn't to be denied minutes later when the Scarlets controlled a scrum and made room for Williams to go over in the corner. Patchell added a late drop goal to secure the win for the Welsh region in the final 10 minutes and lift the mood at Parc y Scarlets.

Scorers - Scarlets: Williams 2 tries; Patchell 2 cons, dg. Connacht: Adeolokun try; Carty pen

Scarlets: Thomas (S Williams 54); L Williams, Jonathan Davies, Parkes, Evans; Patchell, A Davies (J Evans 75; Jones, Owens (Elias 74), Kruger (Edwards 59), Ball, Bulbring (Rawlins 67), Shingler (Boyde 78), James Davies, Barclay (Allen 59).

Connacht: O'Halloran; Adeolokun (Kelleher 74), Aki, Griffin (O'Leary 59), Healy; Carty, Marmion (Blade 65); Buckley (Heffernan 65), McCartney (Cooney 67), Bealham, Roux (Stevenson 67), Dillane, McKeon, Heenan (Connolly 72), Muldoon

Referee: G Clancy (IRFU)

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