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Connacht Eagles Allow Scarlets ‘A’ To Build Winning Momentum
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Connacht Eagles Allow Scarlets ‘A’ To Build Winning Momentum

Connacht Eagles Allow Scarlets ‘A’ To Build Winning Momentum

Connacht Eagles were more than a match for Scarlets ‘A’ until the Welsh side broke clear in the second half to secure a 35-19 bonus point victory at Carmarthen Park.

Mossy Lawler's youngsters started and finished the scoring and gave a very good account of themselves against a Scarlets 'A' team that contained senior-capped players such as try-scoring captain Steff Hughes, Dan Jones, Javan Sebastian, Josh Helps and Tom Phillips.

The sides were tied at 14 points apiece at half-time, but Connacht Eagles' hopes of pushing on for a first Celtic Cup win were ended by the concession of second half tries to Morgan Williams, with his second of the game, Dafydd Hughes and skipper Steff Hughes.

While there were some impressive individual displays and the tries were well crafted, Connacht boss Lawler said: “There is massive frustration after being in control in the first half. We just coughed up the ball too many times and that was the only reason we let the Scarlets into the game.”

This fourth round clash kicked off in bright and dry conditions and the Eagles were quickly on the board. 18-year-old Academy lock Niall Murray burst through the home defence and hooker Jonny Murphy was up in support to gather the offload and touch down.

Conor Fitzgerald's conversion was followed by the hosts' opening try soon after, the Connacht defence giving way on this occasion as full-back Williams broke through for a score converted by Dan Jones, who made three GUINNESS PRO14 appearance this month.

The Eagles continued to create opportunities, invited forward by Scarlets 'A' tighthead Sebastian's 17th-minute sin-binning following a series of penalties. Scrum half Declan Smith denied Connacht a certain try but the pressure told when out-half Fitzgerald nipped over and converted for a 14-7 lead.

After getting back to their full complement, the Scarlets then lost blindside Tom Phillips to the bin. The Eagles were in a great position to strike from a close-in lineout, but the Llanelli men survived with a crucial steal. Closing in on half-time, they built through the phases to send openside Stuart Worrell over for a levelling try.

Turnovers continued to prove costly for the Connacht young guns, who were left to rue their failure to profit from those two yellow cards. Indeed, two converted scores in quick succession from Williams and Dafydd Hughes saw the Scarlets seize control on the resumption.

With the bonus point in the bag, the home side rubber-stamped their move back to the top of the Welsh Conference table with a fifth try run in by centre and captain Hughes after a neat line of passes across the pitch. Dan Jones' successful kick made it 28 points without reply.

Fresh legs up front saw the Connacht Eagles mount a late rally and one of the replacements, 19-year-old Academy back rower Cian Huxford, grounded the ball off the back of a powerful scrum for the eighth and final try of an attack-driven game.

Referee: Adam Jones (WRU)

Lineups Scorers

Match Lineups

Home Team

Morgan Williams; Tomi Lewis, Corey Baldwin, Steff Hughes (capt), Ryan Conbeer; Dan Jones, Declan Smith; Jamie Hughes, Dafydd Hughes, Javan Sebastian, Josh Helps, Morgan Jones, Tom Phillips, Stuart Worrell, Joe Miles.

Replacements used: Berian Watkins for Lewis (18-26, temp sub), Osian Knott for D Jones (58), Chris Long for Phillips (62), Tom Rogers for Lewis, Kemsley Mathias for Sebastian (both 63), Watkins for J Hughes, Torin Myhill for D Hughes (both 68), Dafydd Land for Smith, Jac Price for Helps (both 72).

Away Team

Darragh Leader; Hugh Lane, Eoin Griffin, Kieran Joyce (capt), Conor Hayes; Conor Fitzgerald, James Mitchell; Conan O'Donnell, Jonny Murphy, Conor Carey, Niall Murray, Joe Maksymiw, Mikey Wilson, James Connolly, Neal Moylett.

Replacements used: Sean O'Brien for Lane, Shane Delahunt for Murphy (both 51 mins), Matthew Burke for O'Donnell (53), Cian Huxford for Moylett (55), Luke Carty for Leader, Stephen Kerins for Mitchell (both 63), Conor Kenny for Carey (66), Peter Claffey for Wilson (69).

Match Scorers

Home Team

Tries: Morgan Williams 2, Stuart Worrell, Dafydd Hughes, Steff Hughes; Cons: Dan Jones 5

Away Team

Tries: Jonny Murphy, Conor Fitzgerald, Cian Huxford; Cons: Conor Fitzgerald 2