An 80th minute try from replacement hooker Dave Heffernan was converted by Dan Parks to allow Connacht take home the losing bonus point from a disappointing night at Thomond Park.

Munster outhalf JJ Hanrahan scored all of his side’s 22 points with a try, a conversion and five penalties.

It was a rain-soaked and blustery night in Limerick as both sides ran out on to the pitch.  Munster had the first points on the board through a Hanrahan penalty on eight minutes.

With Connacht exerting pressure at the breakdown, two quick penalties were awarded before the 15 minute mark to allow Parks put Connacht in front for the only time in the game.

The first try of the night came on 19 minutes when a poor cross-field kick from the visitors let Johnny Murphy collect the ball and hand to centre James Downey to break down the left. Connacht held firm on the line but following several rucks from a patient Munster, Hanrahan was given the ball and saw a gap to dart through for the try.

The 21-year-old Kerry man then added the two-point conversion to bring his side 10 – 6 up.

Ten minutes later, Hanrahan intercepted the ball and zipped towards the Connacht try line. But the visitors kept him out and prevented any try. The number 10, however,  was awarded a penalty for a received high tackle and he sent the ball flying through the posts on the half hour mark.

Half time: Munster 13 – 6 Connacht

It was a tumultuous start to the second half as almost immediately after the restart, scrum half Frank Murphy was sent to the sin bin for pulling James Cronin back without the ball. Hanrahan fired over the resulting penalty.

Things went from bad to worse when Connacht were reduced to 13 men following an altercation between props Nathan White and Cronin. Both were shown yellow and removed from the pitch for a ten minute spell. Hanrahan sent over another three-pointer with ease.

Head Coach Pat Lam made full use of his bench, sending on props Denis Buckley and Rodney Ah You for the scrum. Kieran Marmion was on the pitch once Murphy’s sin bin had expired.

From a Connacht scrum, which saw fullback Gavin Duffy step into flanker position, the visitors forced a penalty at the break down and Parks kicked his third penalty of the game to reduce the deficit to ten points on the hour mark.

The rain started to bucket down again and it looked as if Munster were in position to score again after making it down to two metres outside the try-line on 75 minutes.  They had advantage but went offside and so had to settle for a penalty which Hanrahan kicked effectively.

Connacht never gave up and with 80 minutes on the clock they fought hard through several phases of play to see Fionn Carr offload to 22-year-old Heffernan who went over for the late try. Parks’ conversion secured the fourth losing bonus point of the season for Connacht.

Full time score: Munster 22 – 16 Connacht

MUNSTER: D Hurley; K Earls, J Murphy, J Downey, R O’Mahony; JJ Hanrahan, D Williams; J Cronin, N Scannell, J Ryan; D O’Callaghan, D Foley; P Butler, S Dougall, J Coughlan (capt.)

Replacements: CJ Stander for Dougall (47 mins), A Cotter for Butler (52-58 mins), S Archer for Ryan (59 mins), G Hurley for Williams (59 mins), B Holland for Foley (68 mins), I Dineen for Murphy (68 mins), G Slattery for Scannell (75 mins), J Holland for Hanrahan (76 mins), Cotter for Cronin (79 mins).

CONNACHT: G Duffy; F Carr, R Henshaw, E Griffin, M Healy; D Parks, F Murphy; B Wilkinson, J Harris-Wright, N White; M Kearney, C Clarke; A Browne, J Muldoon, E McKeon.

Replacements: D Buckley for Wilkinson (49 mins), R Ah You for Browne (52-58 mins), K Marmion for Murphy (53 mins), D Leader for Griffin (56 mins), A Muldowney for Kearney (56 mins), G Naoupu for McKeon (60 mins), Ah You for White (60 mins), Griffin for Duffy (65 mins), J Carty for Henshaw (75 mins), D Heffernan for Harris-Wright (75 mins)

Referee: D Phillips (IRFU).

Attendance: 18, 870

Man of the Match: James Coughlan

Man of the Match: James Coughlan

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