Saturday 14th November – The Sportsground, Galway.
Connacht 14 Scarlets 20
A rusty Connacht side slipped to a home defeat to a Scarlets side who were down to bare bones with their International contingent away in camp.
Connacht would have been hoping to build on a superb away win in Edinburgh at the end of October. However, their two subsequent fixtures against Treviso and Dragons were both cancelled due to Covid-19 case in both opposition squads.
Scarlets had the elements at their back in the opening half in what was an archetypal Sportsground November evening. A Ryan Conbeer try got the away side off to a great start after five minutes. Man of the match Johnny McNicholl set Conbeer free out wide on the wing and the winger stepped inside to beat the last defender and dot down. The conversion attempt from Dan James was caught in the gale and pulled wide of the post.
Connacht worked their way back into the game and after a series of pick and go drives their summer signing Abraham Papali’i crashed over for his first Connacht try. Jack Carty’s conversion edged the home side ahead 7-5.
Just after the half-hour mark, Conbeer was in for his second score. Once again it was a pass from McNicholl that set up the score. Dan James was wayward with the extra once again. James did find his range with a penalty on thirty-five minutes. At the break, Scarlets held a 13-7 lead.
Connacht spurned a couple of scoring chances at the start of the second half. A superb break from Paul Boyle almost led to a try, however, an unlucky bounce saw the ball roll into touch rather than over the try line. John Porch was also tackled into touch just short of the line after a good break.
The away side stretch their lead when scrum-half Dane Blacker went over for their third try of the night. McNicholl claimed an ariel ball inside his own half and made ground before slipping the ball to Paul Asquith. The Scarlet’s centre then released Blacker on the edge on the Connacht ’22 with a pass that looked suspiciously forward.
Ultan Dillane was on the end of a Connacht drive to dive over for a try. The subsequent conversion from Carthy cut the arrears to a single score on the hour mark.
Despite some late pressure from the home side, they couldn’t find a way over to swing the game back in their favour. Their best chance came when they were held-up over the line with ten minutes remaining.
In truth, it was an error-riddled performance from Andy Friend’s side who looked flat for large portions of the game. Back to back wins for Scarlet’s see them leapfrog Connacht and lifts them into second place in Conference B.
Full-time: Connacht 14 Scarlets 20