Connacht struggle with Scarlets’ physicality

A much-changed Connacht returned from Parc y Scarlets empty handed as the Scarlets continued their hunt for a top-four place with a 38 -10 win.

Boosted with five returning Wales internationals, the Llanelli outfit bullied and outmuscled the Irish province who struggled to make headway against the clinical Llanelli outfit. Nor did they receive any favours from the Italian referee, particularly in the second half, as the home side, with the momentum, added another three tries.

"We have no excuses," coach Eric Elwood said. "We had made several changes to the team, some of which were enforced, but the Scarlets were the better side. We were outmuscled, particularly at the breakdown."

Scarlets led 14 - 3 at the break with a try each from Andy Fenby and prop Rhodri Jones, aided and abetted by a 100 per cent strike rate from returning international Stephen Jones.

Connacht did carve out opportunities - the first when Tiernan O'Halloran was forced into touch just metres from the line in the opening minutes - but they found it difficult to cope with the home side’s fast-breaking defence and physicality at the breakdown, while making too many unforced errors.

Scarlets’ outhalf Stephen Jones and Connacht’s Miah Nikora exchanged penalty before Rhodri Jones completed the first half with a try four minutes before the break. It got worse for Connacht after the break with a series of "frustrating penalties". The Scarlets kept the scoreline ticking over with a Jones penalty and, when replacement John Muldoon was yellow carded, the home side capitalised with an Emyr Phillips try. By the 62nd minute Kieran Murphy provided the bonus point after Connacht lost possession at the breakdown.

Connacht did grab a consolation try in the 73rd minute when Muldoon supplied replacement hooker Ethienne Reynecke out wide and Nikora added the conversion. However it was the Scarlets' night and they finished when replacement Phil John added the fifth in injury time.

Connacht: G Duff, F Vainikolo, E Griffin, D McSharry, T O'Halloran, M Nikora, F Murphy, R Loughney, A Flavin, P Borlase, M Swift, M Kearney, D Heffernan, R Ofisa, G Naoupu.  Replacements, D Buckley for Loughney (46m ), J Muldoon for Swift (53m ), E Reynecke for Flavin (59m ), H Fa'afili for Griffin (63m ), D Moore for Murphy, M Jarvis for Vainikolo and E Grace for Ofisa (all 68m ). S Maguire for Borlase (70m ).

Bonus try wins for Wegians and Corinthians

At home Galway’s rugby clubs enjoyed bonus-point wins on Saturday in their respective All Ireland League fixtures,

Galwegians ran in six tries in their 38 - 17 win over UCD in division IB, with Dave Moore, Brian Muprhy, Colin Conroy, Jason East grabbing a try each, while Tadhg Leader posted 18 points with two tries and a conversion.

In Donnybrook Corinthians also grabbed a four-try bonus in their 27 - 10 win over a dogged Old Wesley outfit.

Corinthians led 8 - 3 at the break courtesy of a penalty from outhalf Mick O’Flynn and a try from centre James Buckley. Hooker Kevin O’Byrne, Prop Finlay Bealham and centre Finn Gormley all grabbed tries.

 

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