Scarlets 23 Connacht 29
Jack Carty led the way as Connacht secured their first ever win at Parc y Scarlets despite having Tongan lock Leva Fiftia sent off in this URC clash.
It’s also Connacht’s first away win of the season and they did it the hard way as they won at Parc y Scarlets for the first time in 12 visits.
Andy Friend’s men had to withstand a late flurry from Scarlets but they held on in a hectic finish with Carty kicking 14 points.
Scarlets dominated the early stages and Connacht seemed poised for another testing night in Llanelli as the Welsh raced into a 10-0 lead in the opening quarter.
Dan Jones got them off the mark with a fourth minute penalty and Scarlets piled on the pressure after that, but the Connacht defence was good.
Kieran Marmion, celebrating his 200th appearance for Connacht, did superbly to hold Welsh prop Samson Lee from grounding the ball over the line, but eventually the pressure told.
Scarlets went to touch with a penalty in front of the posts and they were rewarded when Scott Williams threaded a grubber through and Johnny Williams raced through to score a converted try after 19 minutes.
But then Jones tried a crosskick from a penalty on half and Connacht centre Tom Daly was alert to field the kick and send his partner Sammy Arnold through from deep to touch down.
That score had a big impact on the game. Connacht started to build the phases and Jack Carty landed a couple of penalties to edge 11-10 in front seven minutes from the break.
The lead only lasted a couple of minutes as Jones converted a penalty from 35 metres but then just before the break, Marmion forced a turnover with a sleight of hand and Connacht used the possession well, with Paul Boyle and Cian Prendergast being held up before Leva Fifitia found a gap and the Tongan lock squeezed over for his first try for Connacht, with Carty’s conversion making it 18-13 at the break.
Carty pushed the lead out to 24-13 after 50 minutes with two penalties before they got in for their third try after a penalty down the left. Prendergast won the lineout and Marmion kept the tempo of the attack high before switching for Daly to send John Porch over in the left corner on his 50th appearance to make it 29-13 with 26 minutes left.
Scarlets were awarded a penalty try after 63 minutes when Fifita, who was binned, tackled Kieran Hardy after a quick tap and go with no cover, and that cut to nine points.
Scarlets piled on the pressure after that but the Connacht defence did enough to contain them, even when Fifita was sent off when he picked up a second yellow card when he was adjudged to have taken out Scarlets full-back Ioan Nicholas four minutes from time.
Rhys Patchell reduced the margin to six with the resultant penalty from 35 metres but Connacht, having surrendered big leads a few times this season, did enough to hold out for victory.
Scorers – Scarlets: Tries: J Williams, penalty try. Con: D Jones. Pens: D Jones (2), R Patchell. Connacht: Tries: S Arnold, L Fifita, J Porch. Cons: J Carty. Pens: Carty (4).
Scarlets: I Nicholas; T Rogers, J Williams, S Williams, R Conbeer; D Jones (R Patchell 50), D Blacker (K Hardy 45); S Thomas, D Hughes (Marc Jones 52), S Lee (J Sebastian 45); S Lousi, Morgan Jones (J Price 55); A Shingler (C Tuipulotu 59), S Evans, S Kalamafoni.
Connacht: T O’Halloran; P Sullivan, S Arnold (T Farrell 64), T Daly, J Porch; J Carty, K Marmion (C Blade 68); J Duggan, D Heffernan (S Delahunt 64), T Tuimauga (J Aungier 55); N Murray, L Fifita; C Prendergast, J Butler, P Boyle (A Papali’i 8-20, 73).
Referee: Craig Evans (Wales).