Pro14: Scarlets 36-27 Connacht

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Scrum V Pro14 highlights: Scarlets 36-27 Connacht
Guinness Pro14
Scarlets (26) 36
Tries: McNicholl, Evans, Patchell, Halfpenny, Beirne Cons: Halfpenny 4 Pen: Halfpenny
Connacht (22) 27
Tries: Carty, Kelleher, O'Halloran 2 Cons: Carty 2 Pen: Carty

Scarlets held out to win a nine-try Pro14 thriller against gutsy Connacht.

Johnny McNicholl powered over for the hosts' opening try, but Jack Carty hit back almost immediately.

Steffan Evans and Rhys Patchell crossed, then Cian Kelleher and Tiernan O'Halloran put Connacht ahead before Leigh Halfpenny's try put the hosts in front at the break.

O'Halloran gave Connacht hope in a frenetic finish, but Irish lock Tadhg Beirne broke free for the clincher.

Wales centre Scott Williams was among the returning Scarlets seeking to add another win after beating Edinburgh.

Connacht's poor start to the season meant they have beaten only tournament newcomers Southern Kings.

Williams played his part in Scarlets' opening try, his perfectly timed pass allowing Jonathan Davies to burst through Connacht's midfield before sending try-hungry McNicholl surging to the line.

Johnny McNicholl celebrates
Johnny McNicholl celebrates his try

Scarlets' lack of concentration from the restart did not go unnoticed by Connacht and fly-half Carty made the most of the chance to race clear.

Another player to profit from Scarlets' expansive style, wing Steff Evans, made inroads on several occasions and his reward was another memorable try.

But after Evans sent fly-half Patchell over, adventurous Connacht again fought back as wings Kelleher and O'Halloran went over.

Wales full-back Halfpenny made the most of his chance to outstrip the defence, converting his own score to give the hosts a 26-22 half-time lead.

Following an action-packed opening period, defences and tactical kicking largely dominated after the break.

Leigh Halfpenny heads for the line
Leigh Halfpenny heads for the line

A Halfpenny penalty was all Scarlets could muster in the third quarter and their lead was under threat as Kelleher juggled the ball on his way to a second try.

Carty, however, failed to level with the conversion.

At the other end, Scarlets lock Jake Ball was cut down as he went for the line with two men outside him.

But second-row partner Beirne made amends as he broke clear from a maul to score against his compatriots, giving Halfpenny the chance to convert and finish with a 16-point haul.

Scarlets captain Ken Owens told Scrum V:

"We're happy to get the bonus-point victory at home, but defensively we weren't at the races and were disappointed to concede some soft tries.

"We put ourselves under pressure. Luckily enough attack pulled us through the game."

Scarlets: Leigh Halfpenny, Johnny Mcnicholl, Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams, Steff Evans; Rhys Patchell, Aled Davies; Rob Evans, Ken Owens (capt), Werner Kruger, Jake Ball, David Bulbring, Aaron Shingler, Will Boyde, Josh Macleod.

Replacements; Emyr Phillips, Dylan Evans, Simon Gardiner, Tadhg Beirne, Lewis Rawlins, Jonathan Evans, Paul Asquith, Tom Prydie.

Connacht: Darragh Leader; Tiernan O'Halloran, Bundee Aki, Tom Farrell, Cian Kelleher; Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney (capt), Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Jake Heenan, Jarrad Butler, Eoin McKeon.

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Denis Coulson, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Eoghan Masterson, Kieran Marmion, Steve Crosbie, Eoin Griffin.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

Assistant referees: Ben Whitehouse, John Hardy (Wales)

Citing commissioner: Paul Thomas (Wales)

TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)

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