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Connacht break 17-year hoodoo in Wales

By PA
Jack Carty of Connacht and Scott Williams of Scarlets (Photo By Ben Evans/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Connacht pulled off a historic first ever win at Parc y Scarlets by beating the Welsh region 29-23 on Saturday night.

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It was the Irish province’s first victory at the ground in 12 attempts and it is more than 17 years since they last triumphed in Llanelli, with that win coming at the Scarlets’ former home, Stradey Park.

Sam Arnold, Leva Fifita and John Porch scored tries for Connacht, while Jack Carty kicked four penalties and a conversion.

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Johnny Williams scored a try for the Scarlets, with Dan Jones kicking two penalties and a conversion. There was also a penalty try award and Rhys Patchell added a further three points from the tee.

Jones kicked the Scarlets into an early lead with a straightforward penalty before Connacht suffered a further setback when number eight Paul Boyle departed for a HIA.

The Scarlets then came close to scoring the opening try when a neat offload from Sam Lousi sent Aaron Shingler away, but the flanker could not find Dane Blacker with the scoring pass.

A couple of errors from Connacht full-back Tiernan O’Halloran gifted the home side a platform in the Irish 22. The Scarlets made it count when a superbly judged chip ahead from Scott Williams was collected by Johnny Williams to score.

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Connacht did not fire a shot in the first quarter, but they were gifted their first points. On winning a penalty on halfway, Jones launched a cross-field kick only for it to fall to Tom Daly, who raced away to provide Arnold with an easy run-in as the Scarlets players looked on in disbelief.

Carty missed the conversion but was on target with two simple penalties before Jones replied with one for the Scarlets.

With the last move of the half, Connacht scored their second try when Fifita forced his way over from close range, with Carty’s conversion giving his side an 18-13 interval lead.

After the restart, Carty extended that advantage with two penalties in quick succession before the Scarlets introduced Patchell and Kieran Hardy in the hope of transforming their fortunes.

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It did not pay off as Porch immediately scored Connacht’s third try, with the Scarlets conceding a succession of penalties and frequently losing line-outs.

Trailing 29-13 with 15 minutes remaining, the Scarlets needed some impetus and a yellow card for Fifita for a deliberate offside and a penalty try award gave them a glimmer of hope.

The Scarlets blew a couple of opportunities in Fifita’s absence and he was able to return with no damage done to the scoreboard.

However, a minute after his return, Fifita landed a late tackle on Ioan Nicholas and was given a second yellow to pick up a red, with Patchell kicking the resulting penalty to earn his side a losing bonus-point.

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