On the night where Michael Swift became the first Connacht player to reach 250 caps, a late comeback failed to stop the Scarlets in the Sportsground on Saturday night as a losing bonus point was all Connacht could muster.
Second-half tries from Matt Healy and Jason Harris-Wright earned Pat Lam’s side a point, but Scarlets scored three tries of their own through Frazier Climo, Kirby Myhill and Gareth Davies with Aled Thomas accurate from the boot.
And despite receiving three yellow cards throughout the match, Scarlets emerged with a victory.
Connacht started well with Craig Ronaldson slotting two penalties early on as the home side dominated the early exchanges. Aled Thomas scored a penalty for Scarlets to make it 6-3 in the 21st minute, but the away side were then reduced to 14 men as prop Jacobie Adriaanse was shown a yellow card in the 25th minute.
Connacht only managed one penalty despite their numerical advantage as Ronaldson scored a penalty from 25 metres, and Scarlets scored their first try just before half time as Climo touched down after a well-worked line-out move.
Buoyed by their try just before half time, Scarlets took further advantage in the 47th minute as hooker Kirby Myhill scored the side’s second try, and the Welsh side pressed home their advantage with their third as scrum-half Gareth Davies touched down after sustained pressure from the away side.
But just as the game seemed to be slipping away from Connacht, Healy scored a superb try which Ronaldson converted to make it 24-16 after 56 minutes.
Scarlets were shown their second yellow card of the evening as Welsh international flanker Aaron Shingler was sent to the sin bin and replacement hooker Jason Harris-Wright scored after the line-out maul that ensued.
Connacht were awarded a number of penalties in overtime but elected to run each time. Ultimately, the away side turned over possession and booted the ball out of play to signal the end of the game.
Scorers – Connacht: M Healy, J Harris-Wright tries, C Ronaldson 1 con, 3 pens. Scarlets: F Climo, K Myhill, G Davies tries; A Thomas 3 cons, 1 pen
Connacht: G Duffy; D Leader, E Griffin, D McSharry, M Healy; C Ronaldson, K Marmion; B Wilkinson, S Henry, N White; M Swift, C Clarke; A Muldowney, J Heenan, E Masterson.
Replacements: R Loughney for Wilkinson (34), J Harris-Wright for Henry (55), R Ah You for White (55), D Parks for Ronaldson (57), M Kearney for Swift (61), G Naoupu for Masterson (61), F Carr for Duffy (65), F Murphy for Marmion (77).
Scarlets: G Owen; F Climo, G Maule (K Phillips 79), A Warren, N Reynolds; A Thomas, G Davies; P John (c), K Myhill, J Adriaanse; J Ball, G Earle (J Snyman 71); A Shingler, J Turnbull, S Timani
Replacements: I Jones for Timani (27-36 temp), A Davies for G Davies (71), J Snyman for Earle (71), D Thomas for Timani (76), K Phillips for Maule (79), S Hopkins for John (79).