A dominant performance by the pack and a raucous Sportsground crowd helped Connacht to their first win of the season tonight with a 20-11 victory over Munster.
With an incredible atmosphere brewing around the ground, the first 10 minutes were dominated by the scrums which saw Connacht on top. Indeed it was a scrum turnover on the Munster 22 which led to Connacht’s opening try with Finlay Bealham getting the better of his opposite number.
From the resulting lineout David Hawkshaw produced an excellent carry to bring the hosts 5 metres short, and the try then came after a lovely pass from Carty to Hansen out wide.
After the first quarter Munster slowly grew into the game, and they were level after a try from Patrick Campbell in the corner.
The last action of the half saw Munster hit the front for the first time with Ben Healy slotting over a penalty in front of the posts.
The visitors continued where they left off in the second half and their lead was stretched to 6 points with another Healy penalty. From then on however it was Connacht that came to the fore, aided by a brilliant performance from the bench.
The turning point came when Fitzgerald slotted a beautiful 50:22 to give Connacht territory, and a brave lineout call saw the pack get the maul going and man-of-the-match Finlay Bealham was there to power over.
Once Connacht took the lead they managed the game excellently to keep Munster parked in their own half. The result was sealed just moments from time when replacement Paul Boyle powered over, and Fitzgerald’s conversion put the tie beyond doubt.