Munster 27

 

Connacht 14

 

Courtesy of pro14rugby.org

 

Two converted Connacht tries were not enough to overcome a strong Munster who were chasing the top spot of Conference A of the PRO14.

Keen to bury the disappointment of their European loss to Saracens last week, Munster were hit by the loss of Conor Murray in the warm-up.

That brought in Neil Cronin to start at No.9 opposite Kieran Marmion, and it was the latter who edged their early exchanges in an impressive opening quarter for the visitors.

Conor Dean, son of former Triple Crown winner Paul Dean, missed an early kick at goal for Connacht but Tyler Bleyendaal made no mistake at the other end.

But Connacht then got the try their bright start deserved, Bealham on his return from injury grounding cleverly from close range under the posts and Dean adding the extras.

Munster then thought they had mustered an immediate response when Andrew Conway picked off an interception and raced under the posts.

But the winger failed to notice the retreating Stephen Fitzgerald who knocked the ball clear before Conway could ground it and Connacht survived.

That was a short stay of execution however, and Beirne went charging through before rounding Niyi Adeolokun to dot down.

Bleyendaal converted and now Munster were starting to purr. Conway – keen to make up for his error – got free down the right and fed Peter O’Mahony who put Haley clear for their second.

Bleyendaal added the extras for a 17-7 half time lead, Dean missing a late penalty for the visitors in a mixed first-half display for the youngster.

At the start of the second half Munster blew a great chance to extend their lead after a Dan Goggin break but Bleyendaal’s penalty made it 20-7.

The second half became a scrappy affair with tempers fraying and when Jeremy Loughman saw yellow, Connacht finally made their mounting pressure tell as McKeon battered his way over and Dean added the extras.

But no sooner had Connacht given themselves a chance than the 14 men of Munster hit back to put the game to bed, replacement Hanrahan darting under the posts after Sam Arnold’s impressive work in the build-up.

Overall a keenly contested affair but for both sets of supporters, attention will shift to the knock out games next weekend.

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