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Scarlets crash to Connacht
Keatley kicks 11 points to see off Welsh region
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.
Guinness PRO12 Table
|Friday 26th December|
|14:05||Cardiff Blues vs Dragons|
|17:00||Munster vs Leinster|
|18:45||Ulster vs Connacht|
|Saturday 27th December|
|14:40||Glasgow Warriors vs Edinburgh|
|17:15||Ospreys vs Scarlets|
|Sunday 28th December|
|14:00||Zebre vs Treviso|
|Thursday 1st January|
|14:05||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Cardiff Blues|
|17:00||Connacht vs Munster|
|Friday 2nd January|
|19:35||Edinburgh vs Glasgow Warriors|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|14:00||Treviso vs Zebre|
|14:40||Leinster vs Ulster|
|17:05||Scarlets vs Ospreys|
|Friday 9th January|
|19:35||Connacht vs Edinburgh|
|19:35||Glasgow vs Scarlets|
|Saturday 10th January|
|14:40||Cardiff Blues vs Leinster|
|15:00||Zebre vs Munster|
|Sunday 11th January|
|14:00||Treviso vs Ulster|
|16:00||Ospreys vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Wednesday 14th January|
|TBC||Leinster vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|TBC||Scarlets vs Connacht|
|TBC||Edinburgh vs Ospreys|
|TBC||Ulster vs Benetton Treviso|
|TBC||Zebre vs Glasgow|
|TBC||Munster vs Cardiff Blues|
|Saturday 21st February|
|TBC||Benetton Treviso vs Cardiff Blues|
|Sunday 21st December|
|Dragons 25 - 11 Zebre|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Ospreys 31 - 20 Ulster|
|Glasgow Warriors 21 - 18 Munster|
|Friday 19th December|
|Cardiff Blues 21 - 9 Scarlets|
|Edinburgh 48 - 0 Treviso|
|Leinster 21 - 11 Connacht|
|Sunday 30th November|
|Glasgow Warriors 19 - 15 Dragons|
|Saturday 29th November|
|Connacht 14 - 8 Scarlets|
|Leinster 18 - 12 Ospreys|
|Zebre 18 - 10 Edinburgh|
|Friday 28th November|
|Cardiff Blues 36 - 25 Treviso|
|Munster 21 - 20 Ulster|
|Sunday 23rd November|
|Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff Blues|
|Treviso 24 - 24 Leinster|
|Friday 21st November|
|Ulster 25 - 16 Ospreys|
|Connacht 43 - 3 Zebre|
|Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow Warriors|
|Dragons 12 - 38 Munster|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com