Scarlets crash to Connacht
Keatley kicks 11 points to see off Welsh region
Last Updated: 30/10/09 9:59pm
Murphy: initial break led to McComish's try
Ian Keatley kicked 11 points as Connacht claimed a 16-10 success over the Scarlets on Friday evening.
Keatley's haul included the conversion of Mike McComish's first-half try as Connacht earned their first win in four Magners League outings.
The Scarlets, who came into the match on a three-game winning run in all competitions, disappointed during a first half which saw Connacht move 13-0 ahead.
Scarlets winger Lee Williams did break through for a late try, which replacement Daniel Newton converted to ensure his side left the Sportsground with a losing bonus point.
Rhys Priestland, the Scarlets' goalkicking hero against the Dragons last week, missed his first shot at the posts as the Welshmen failed to capitalise on a decent spell of early possession.
His opposite number Keatley split the posts with a well-struck penalty and succeeded with the second of his next two attempts, a meaty 40-metre effort after the visitors were punished for an off-the-ball incident.
The Scarlets pack, minus late withdrawal Deacon Manu, played second fiddle to the hosts in the opening quarter - with the Connacht back row of John Muldoon, Johnny O'Connor and McComish swarming over the breakdown area.
Connacht were on the back foot when centre Keith Matthews was sin-binned for a late tackle - but with disciplined defence, they kept the Scarlets out of their 22 and began to force the issue up front.
When Scarlets lock Vernon Cooper was dispatched to the sin-bin, Connacht seized their chance off a powerful scrum - with Ireland call-ups Sean Cronin and Brett Wilkinson to the fore.
Scrum-half Frank Murphy broke on the blindside, and the impressive O'Connor popped an inside pass to set up athletic number eight McComish for a run to the line.
Fly-half Keatley's successful conversion made it 13-0 at the break.
But the Scarlets rallied in the third quarter - and with Connacht prop Wilkinson the third player to see yellow, Priestland hammered over the resulting kick.
Full-back Morgan Stoddart, back after a seven-month injury-enforced absence, exerted little influence on proceedings - with the Scarlets backs manufacturing only a couple of notable line breaks.
Into the final quarter, the 14 men of Connacht upped the intensity - and an earth-shuddering tackle from Matthews got the hosts back in the groove.
Soon afterwards, Keatley thumped a long-range penalty over to steady the ship at 16-3 - and despite Williams' late score in the corner, Connacht stood firm for a much-needed victory.