Davies scores as Scarlets win
Sun, 30 Mar 2014 19:50
Jonathan Davies' second-minute try helped lay the platform for Scarlets' 32-30 Pro12 victory over Connacht, but they were pushed all the way by the Irish region who picked up a losing bonus point late on.
Jonathan Davies was one of a number of players returning from international duty to boost Scarlets' season run in, and he needed little time to leave his mark, touching down almost immediately before eight points from Rhys Priestland helped them into a 13-6 half-time lead.
A Gareth Davies try plus a superb team move finished by Ross Turnbull extended their lead before Connacht hit back with tries from Fionn Carr and Robbie Henshaw to get within two points.
Gareth Maule's try settled nerves for the Scarlets but Eoin McKeon dotted down at the death to ensure Connacht did not come away empty handed.
Scarlets went on the attack from the off and got off to a dream start after three minutes with Priestland starting a move with a well-placed pass over the head of Dan Parks to free up the left wing.
Jordan Williams took up the baton before feeding in centre Jonathan Davies to stride over with Priestland adding the extras.
Parks cut the gap to four points soon after with a penalty but Scarlets were showing their intent.
Priestland then missed a chance to extend his side's lead when his 15th-minute penalty fell wide before Parks tried to play in Tiernan O'Halloran in the corner but the former Scottish international's kick went into touch.
Parks was on target with his next kick, splitting the posts on 22 minutes to take his side back to within a point with Priestland replying with his own two minutes later.
And while Priestland hit the post shortly afterwards with another kick, he made no mistake with two successive three pointers to re-establish his side's seven point lead on 34 minutes.
Connacht's best attacking move came just short of the half-time break with the ball carried out of their own 22 before Carr took hold on the wing but his chip forward ran just too long to dot down.
Scarlets began the second half in the same attacking vein as the first, and while Priestland missed a penalty on 44 minutes, Gareth Davies added his side's second try five minutes later.
In a move seemingly off the training ground, the ball was picked up from the back of the scrum and Davies fed the dummy before jinking in under the posts, Priestland with the conversion.
And it was soon three tries for Scarlets as defence was turned into attack in devastating fashion, Liam Williams doing well under pressure in his own 22, before Kristian Phillips burned his way through the centre leaving Turnbull to canter in.
Priestland missed the conversion, and Connacht replied immediately, with Marmion showing quick thinking to tap and go before squeezing over the line.
The TMO confirmed the try, although Parks also missed the conversion with the scores at 25-11 with a little over 20 left on the clock.
The visitors pushed again, with Miah Nikora sending a beautifully weighted kick into the corner for Carr to touch down, with the former adding the extras.
And Connacht were not just settling for the bonus losing point either and after Michael Swift found room down the right, Henshaw was on hand to crash over with five minutes remaining.
But faced with a tricky conversion on the near touchline, Nikora saw his kick drift agonizingly short before Maule calmed late Scarlets nerves with their bonus-point try and McKeon had the last word following strong work by Henshaw.
Tries: J Davies, G Davies, Turnbull, Maule
Cons: Priestland 3
Pens: Priestland 2
Tries: Marmion, Carr, Henshaw, McKeon
Cons: Nikora 2
Pens: Parks 2
Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Kristian Phillips, 13 Jonathan Davies (captain), 12 Olly Barkley, 11 Jordan Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Sione Timani, 7 John Barclay, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Johan Snyman, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Rhodri Jones, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Phil John
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Richard Kelly, 20 Lewis Rawlins, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Gareth Maule
Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Tiernan O'Halloran, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Fionn Carr, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Eoghan Masterson, 6 John Muldoon, 5 Mick Kearney, 4 Aly Muldowney, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 Nathan White, 19 Michael Swift, 20 Andrew Browne, 21 Frank Murphy, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Darragh Leader
Referee: Neil Paterson
Assistant referees: Wayne Davies, Martyn Lewis
TMO: Tim Hayes
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