Friday 22 November 2019

Davies pounces to leave Connacht empty-handed

JOHN FALLON

Connacht 11

Scarlets 24

Connacht fell to a second successive home defeat as Scarlets ran in 17 points in 11 minutes at the start of the second half at the Sportsground yesterday.

Connacht seemed poised for victory when they led 8-0 at the break having played against the strong wind, but Scarlets took control after the restart and put Eric Elwood's men to the sword.

Teenage debutant full-back Jordan Williams did the damage with two tries with George North, who created the first less than a minute after the restart, also punishing poor defence.

And then when Connacht piled on the pressure in the closing moments as they tried to turn a losing bonus-point into victory, a pass from Miah Nikora was intercepted by Jon Davies and the Scarlets skipper ran from his own '22' to secure a third win and a try bonus point for the Welsh and leave Connacht empty-handed.

It was an entirely different story in the opening half with Connacht making the most of the opportunities they created and containing a Scarlets side who had scored 10 tries in their opening two games.

Nikora edged Connacht in front after 10 minutes when he made no mistake from 25 metres after Scarlets were penalised for collapsing a scrum.

Connacht created a couple of try-scoring chances, but Tiernan O'Halloran was unable to send Gavin Duffy over in the right corner and Eoin Griffin was held up short three minutes from the break.

But he was not denied a minute later when Connacht managed to keep the pressure on and Griffin was rewarded in the right corner after the impressive Kieran Marmion and Nikora had shown quick hands.

Nikora failed to reach the target with the difficult conversion into the teeth of the wind, but Elwood must have been pleased with the 8-0 interval lead.

But that feeling wasn't long being wiped out as Scarlets stepped on the gas after the restart to surge 17-8 in front.

Connacht regained their composure and another Nikora penalty on the hour brought them at least inside losing bonus-point territory and the home crowd were baying for a last-gasp match-winner when Davies intercepted and raced three-quarters of the pitch to leave Elwood and Connacht devastated at the finish.

"We are gutted, we controlled the opening 40 minutes and then coughed up three tries in about 10 minutes. In the end we felt we should have got something from the game so to be denied even a bonus point at the end is hard to accept," said Elwood.

Scorers -- Connacht: E Griffin try, M Nikora two pens. Scarlets: J Williams (2), G North, J Davies tries, R Priestland, J Williams cons.

Connacht: G Duffy (capt); T O'Halloran (M Jarvis 51), E Griffin (R Henshaw 64), D McSharry, F Vainikolo; M Nikora, K Marmion (D Moore 71); B Wilkinson (D Buckley 61), E Reynecke (A Flavin 31), N White (R Ah You 61); M Swift (D Gannon 70), M McCarthy; A Browne, W Faloon (J O'Connor 65), E McKeon.

Scarlets: J Williams; G North (G Maule 67), J Davies (capt), S Williams, N Reynolds; R Priestland (A Thomas 74), G Davies; P John (P Edwards 67), M Rees (K Owens h-t), S Lee (D Manu 42); S Timani (J Ball h-t), R Kelly; J Turnbull, J Edwards, K Murphy.

Referee: Neil Paterson (SRU).

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