The Scarlets looked to have the game under control at the start at 27-13 ahead and again with Gareth Bowen’s last minute penalty.
But Eric Elwood’s injury-time kick snatched a share of the spoils for the visitors who outscored Llanelli four tries to three and handed the initiative in the title race to leaders Ulster.
It was not the first time this season that Llanelli’s hunt for silverware has been hit by their bogey-side with the Scarlets eager to exact revenge for their only home defeat this season after a surprise Celtic Cup defeat
to Connacht back in October, and they took less than two minutes to register their first points.
Bowen, in what could be his last game for the Scarlets this season given Stephen Jones’ imminent return after the Six Nations, kicked Llanelli into an early lead with two penalties inside five minutes.
Kicking veteran Elwood pulled one back and moments later was converting the game’s first try after the Irish caught Llanelli knapping in defence.
Former Newport wing Matt Mostyn was sent clear by a smart move in midfield and when Llanelli were penalised close to their own line, scrum-half Michael Walls was quickest to react to send burly wing Wayne Munn skipping over.
Gareth Jenkins had unwrapped Scott Quinnell from the cotton wool for this game in preparation for their Heineken Cup quarter-final in two weeks’ time and it was not long before the Scarlets talisman made his presence count.
A superb off-load after Matthew Watkins’ break open space for young lock Bryn Griffiths to score on 15 minutes, and after Elwood had equalised with a penalty, the same pair linked again, this time Quinnell charging through the
midfield off Bowen’s shoulder to send the Scarlet skipper sailing through.
Bowen’s conversion gave Llanelli a 20-13 lead that lasted until the break with Munn dropping a half-chance, Mark McHugh missing two long-range efforts and Tal Selley having his try ruled out for a forward pass.
But neither Llanelli or Selley had to wait much longer when Salesi Finau broke two tackles before off-loading for the Llanelli centre to streak over just 38 seconds after the re-start.
That third try should have sent Llanelli, 27-13 ahead, on their way but Connacht proved once again they would not roll over at Stradey and dug in to rattle their hosts.
Mostyn finished off Darren Yapp’s break to cut into the lead before No 8 John O’Sullivan was sent to the sin bin for punching Llanelli’s David Hodges.
Yet again Llanelli failed to capitalise on their advantage when they were reduced to 14 men as well when Bowen was lucky only to receive a yellow card for stamping.
Connacht turned the screw when Munn came inside off Yapp’s pass to score after Conor McPhillips had a try disallowed but Elwood missed his second conversion.
That was to prove costly when Connacht were justifiably awarded a penalty try when Llanelli had collapsed the scrum after Garan Evans had saved a try with a desperate tackle on replacement Conor O’Loughlin.
The Scarlets looked to have won the game when Bowen stepped out of the sin bin to slot over a last-minute kick only for Elwood to have the last laugh.