Friday 15 November 2019

Connacht rue missing historic win opportunity

Scarlets 18 Connacht 10

"It was definitely a missed opportunity," said Friend. Photo: Chris Fairweather/Sportsfile

Head Coach Andy Friend believes Connacht missed a golden opportunity to claim their first ever victory at Parc Y Scarlets.

The Scarlets had 15 players absent due to the World Cup while Connacht were only missing two yet could not break down the resilient Welsh outfit. Tries from Steff Evans and Paul Asquith along with eight points from the boot of Dan Jones was enough for Scarlets to get over the line. All Connacht could muster was a single try from Eoghan Masterson and five points from Conor Fitzgerald.

Matt Healy of Connacht is tackled by Ryan Conbeer of Scarlets. Photo: Chris Fairweather/Sportsfile
Matt Healy of Connacht is tackled by Ryan Conbeer of Scarlets. Photo: Chris Fairweather/Sportsfile

"It was definitely a missed opportunity," said Friend. "We missed a lot of opportunities. I thought the Scarlets were clever and took their opportunities better than we did.

"Too many times we just released pressure whether it was a simple knock-on or a penalty against us. We conceded a few turnovers at the breakdown."

The Scarlets drew first blood when Evans dotted down from short range after the initial break by Asquith.

Johnny McNicholl cut Connacht open before being brought down by Jarrad Butler metres from the try line. But the ball was eventually spun wide with Steff Hughes cleverly fooling the Connacht defence by dummying before putting Asquith over for a try which Jones converted.

A dejected Jarrad Butler of Connacht following the defeat. Photo: Chris Fairweather/Sportsfile
A dejected Jarrad Butler of Connacht following the defeat. Photo: Chris Fairweather/Sportsfile

Connacht hit back with a penalty from Fitzgerald but the hosts turned around 12-3 ahead at the interval.

The Scarlets extended their lead early in the second-half with three points from Jones' boot but of far more serious consequence was referee Stuart Berry's decision to send Tom Daly to the sin bin for offside.

Connacht's pack began to dominate, with Masterson powering his way over the line to make it a one-score game. But Scarlets were successful in seeing out the game with out-half Jones adding another successful penalty.

SCORERS - Scarlets: S Evans, Asquith try each; D Jones 2 pens, con. Connacht: Masterson try; C Fitzgerald pen, con.

SCARLETS - McNicholl, Conbeer (Baldwin 60), Asquith, Hughes, S Evans; D Jones, Hardy; R Evans (Price 52), M Jones (Davies 63), Lee (Kruger 63), Cummins (Helps 56), Rawlins, Phillips, Macleod, Cassiem (Davis 64).

CONNACHT - O'Halloran; S Fitzgerald, Godwin, Daly (Robb 65), Healey (Leader 47); C Fitzgerald, Blade (Marmion 50); McAllister (D Buckley 45), McCartney (Delahunt 56), Bealham (Robertson-McCoy 56), Thornbury (Dillane 51), Roux, Masterson, Fainga'a (McKeon 36), Butler.

REF - Stuart Berry (SARU)

Irish Independent

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