Scarlets power past Connacht
March 2, 2012
Stephen Jones started at fly-half for the Scarlets
© Getty Images
The Scarlets smashed Connacht 38-10 on Friday evening to keep their play-off hopes alive.
After beating Treviso 34-20 at the same ground a week ago the Scarlets crossed for five tries with Stephen Jones kicking 13 points.
The Scarlets included Wales squad members Aaron Shingler, Liam Williams, Rhodri Jones, Stephen Jones and Lou Reed in their starting line-up, but struggled to get a decent foothold in Connacht territory after some early handling errors. It took them until the 17th minute to get on the scoreboard.
The first time the Scarlets put some phases together they won a penalty but instead of going for the posts Jones kicked for territory in the pursuit of more points. And from another penalty five metres out, Scarlets chose a scrum, won a free kick and captain Gareth Maule put Andy Fenby over in the left corner. Jones added the extras to leave the home side 7-0 ahead.
However, hands in a ruck in their own 22 saw the Scarlets' lead reduced with a 24th-minute penalty for Connacht outside-half Miah Nikora. It took the Scarlets time to make another big attack count but after 37 minutes prop Rhodri Jones crashed through a ruck to score from close range after some impressive build-up work to help give the home side a 14-3 interval advantage.
The Scarlets scrum showed its dominance by earning Stephen Jones a penalty on 46 minutes which he kicked to extend the home lead to 14 points. And after Connacht forward John Muldoon was sin-binned just three minutes after entering the fray the Scarlets scored their third converted try when hooker Emyr Phillips squeezed over by the posts.
From 24-3 up it took the Scarlets just another six minutes to seal the bonus point try when they turned over ball and number eight Kieran Murphy sprinted over. With Peter Edwards in the bin Connacht went over for a try through replacement hooker Ethienne Reynecke but it was too little too late for the Irish outfit.
But there was a final flourish for the home side when prop Phil John grabbed the fifth try in injury time, with Jones again successful from the conversion as the Wales ace finished with a 100% record with the boot.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter