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Scarlets bounce back to take the points

Tries by hooker Aled Gravelle, lock Inoke Afeaki and full-back Lee Byrne were enough to ensure a second league victory for the Scarlets.

However it was Connacht who impressed early on with fly-half Paul Warwick pulling the strings expertly, and it was a moment of magic from the fly half that claimed the game’s first try on 17 minutes. With little seeming on the former Australian sevens star chipped over the defence from inside his own half, hacked through, then won the race to the touchdown under the posts. Warwick’s simple conversion made it 7-0 and that is how it stayed until first-half stoppage time.

With the Scarlets finally putting together a concerted period of pressure, wing Tal Selley was held up just short, but hooker Gravelle scooped up possession and showed good strength to drive over.

Gareth Bowen missed with the conversion, but landed a penalty from just inside his own half two minutes after the restart to put his side in front. There was far more energy to the Scarlets after the break and they claimed their second try through a punishing forward effort after 51 minutes.

Lock Afeaki won the lineout 35 metres out and the home pack drove the Connacht eight back to a yard from their own line. With the visitors’ defence all at sea it was the former Tongan skipper who picked up and found his way to the line.

Bowen’s conversion success made it 15-7, but Connacht remained in the contention thanks to a David Slemen drop goal. Another Bowen penalty restored the eight-point advantage then the Scarlets were reduced to 14 men when replacement lock Dave Duley was yellow carded for a professional foul.

But it did not seem to affect the home side and a superb solo score from full-back Byrne on 73 minutes sealed the points. Byrne fielded his own high kick then showed great strength and pace to pull away from the cover for the score.

Connacht kept fighting and replacement prop Chris Venter ploughed over from short range late on, but it was not enough to earn the plucky Irishman a losing bonus point.

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