Connacht were left shattered tonight as their efforts in the dying minutes of a three-point game went unrewarded.

Having won on three of their last four RaboDirect PRO12 outings the Welsh side outscored the hosts by three tries to two to keep themselves mid-place on the league table.

It was an assuring start for Pat Lam’s men who went six points ahead before the ten minute mark with two on-target penalty kicks from Craig Ronaldson. His opposite number Aled Thomas kicked his side’s first points on 20 minutes when Connacht were penalised for being off their feet.

Minutes later, the away side were shown their first of three yellow cards of the night when their tight head prop was sin binned. With a one-man advantage and on the Scarlets line, Connacht had a real chance for points but their hard work didn’t pay off and they left their opponents 22 empty-handed.

Just before the Scarlets were back to their full 15, Ronaldson was given another shot at the posts and struck the ball well to bring his side 9 – 3 up.

As half time loomed, Scarlets winger Frazier Climo boosted his side by touching down for the first try of the game on his PRO12 debut. Thomas added the extras to bring Scarlets one point clear at the break.

Half time score: Connacht 9 – 10 Scarlets

From the restart, Connacht were awarded an early penalty and Ronaldson’s kick from the 10metre line had the distance but not the line.

The Welsh side punished Connacht’s defensive line with two tries within five minutes scored – both from a linout drive – by hooker Kirby Myhill and scrum half Gareth Davies. Thomas’ conversion kicks brought Scarlets 15 points up after 50 minutes.

But Connacht came roaring back on 56 minutes with a brilliant intercept from winger Matt Healy who ran the length of the pitch to touch down. Ronaldson added the two points just before he was replaced by Dan Parks.

A second yellow card was shown to Scarlets’ flanker  Aaron Shingler for tackling off the ball and Connacht made their advantage count immediately with a well-worked maul leading to a try from replacement hooker Jason Harris-Wright.  Parks’ conversion was wayward to the left of the posts and Connacht remained three points behind with ten minutes to go.

The home side and their supporters refused to give up and fought hard to find another score. Replacement winger Fionn Carr made a huge break and ran 60 metres before being tackled into touch.  The late pressure continued with another break from Healy who was blocked with a late tackle after chipping the ball. Gareth Owen was sent to the sin bin for his offense but despite Connacht pushing for that late try, they had to settle with the losing bonus point as Scarlets held on for the hard-fought win.

Full time score: Connacht 21 – 24 Scarlets


Gallery: Connacht v Benetton