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Fourth Straight Home Win For Connacht

Fourth Straight Home Win For Connacht

Connacht chalked up their fourth home win on the trot as second half tries from Colm Rigney, Paul Warwick and David Slemen pulled them clear of the Scarlets on Saturday.

…Connacht winger Darren Yapp tries to get past Llanelli duo Clive Stuart-Smith (left) and Aled Gravelle (right) in Galway…

Connacht chalked up their fourth home win on the trot as second half tries from Colm Rigney, Paul Warwick and David Slemen pulled them clear of the Scarlets on Saturday.

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CELTIC LEAGUE: Saturday, February 18

CONNACHT 33 LLANELLI SCARLETS 19, The Sportsground (Att: 2,300)

Scorers: Connacht: Tries: Colm Rigney, Paul Warwick, David Slemen; Cons: Warwick 2, Slemen; Pens: Warwick 4

Scarlets: Tries: Darren Daniel, Regan King; Pens: Mike Hercus 2, Gareth Bowen

Michael Bradley’s westerners picked up their second win in three Celtic League outings to show further signs of life at the bottom of the table.

Second half tries from number eight Rigney, influential fly half Warwick, who kicked six of his seven attempts at goal for a 21-point haul, and his replacement Slemen helped Connacht to their fourth straight win at the Sportsground.

For Gareth Jenkins’ disappointing visitors, it was a fourth defeat on the bounce. The Welsh side led 16-12 at half-time thanks to tries from young winger Darren Daniel and New Zealand centre Regan King, but their efforts waned after the restart.

The Irishmen began well in sunny conditions, grabbing the lion’s share of possession. Warwick, making his first start in four league games, landed penalties on 7 and 14 minutes to cancel out Mike Hercus’ fourth-minute opener.

But Llanelli showed signs of their intent as the first quarter came to a close. Wales Under-19 international Daniel broke from his own 10-metre line, slipping through the Connacht rearguard to romp in at the left corner for his first league try.

Hercus missed the conversion and the Scarlets were down to 14 men soon after when Kiwi King was yellow carded for hands in the ruck. Warwick mopped up by slotting over the resultant penalty. The former Australian Sevens captain added another but a third Hercus penalty and King’s try, scored in the right corner right on half-time, saw the visitors go in at the break with a 16-12 buffer.

However, the hosts hit back within 70 seconds of the restart when scrum half Chris Keane mounted a blindside attack and he offloaded for Rigney, who cut through on a lovely line, to thunder over.

Warwick converted and added the extras to his own 52nd-minute try, created again by a Keane break. Although Gareth Bowen, on as a replacement for Hercus, reduced the deficit to 26-19 with a 30-metre penalty, Connacht claimed their third try on the hour-mark through Slemen.

Tongan centre Andrew Mailei gobbled up turnover ball and Slemen was on the end of a quick attack to touch down and convert.

Connacht’s hunt for a fourth try was ended in injury-time when replacement hooker Joe Merrigan was yellow-carded for a ruck offence.

CONNACHT: Matt Mostyn; Darren Yapp, Andrew Mailei (Mark McHugh 67), Keith Matthews, Conor McPhillips; Paul Warwick (David Slemen 57), Chris Keane (Tom Tierney 60); Ray Hogan (Dan McFarland 80), John Fogarty (Joe Merrigan 55), Adrian Clarke, David Gannon, Andrew Farley (capt), John Muldoon, Brendan O’Connor (Matt Lacey 55), Colm Rigney (Andrew Gallagher 77).

SCARLETS: Barry Davies; Tal Selley, Dafydd James (capt), Regan King (Gavin Evans 69), Darren Daniel; Mike Hercus (Gareth Bowen half-time), Clive Stuart-Smith (Liam Davies 57); Martyn Madden, Aled Gravelle, Craig Dunlea (John Davies 32), Inoke Afeaki (Vernon Cooper 57), Adam Jones, Dafydd Jones (Gavin Quinnell 69), Gavin Thomas, Alix Popham.

Replacements not used: Matthew Rees.

Sin Bin: King (Llanelli) (22 mins), Merrigan (Connacht) (80)
Referee: Graeme Hannah (Scotland)