Munster return to winning ways in Galway
PRO14 REPORT: Munster returned to winning ways in the Pro14 after they recorded a 10-16 victory over Connacht at the Sportsground in Galway.
An early penalty from JJ Hanrahan put Munster into the lead before Chris Farrell’s try at the midway point of the first half which was converted by Hanrahan put the southern province 0-10 up before Jack Carty got Connacht’s first points of the game with a penalty at the stroke of half time.
Munster regained their 10-point advantage when Hanrahan added the first points of the second half with a penalty on 42 minutes. Hanrahan put Munster 3-16 in front with another effort off the tee after 61 minutes.
Munster defended superbly throughout and a huge effort in the last 20 minutes almost kept the hosts at bay but Connacht crossed for a late try with the visitors down to 14 men to keep themselves in the game.
With the clock in the red, Connacht continued to attack but 13-man Munster held out just metres from the line as the hosts spilled the ball forward.
Munster conceded some penalties in the opening minutes of the game which allowed Jack Carty an opportunity to open the scoring but his kick at goal was wide.
Munster’s physicality in defence was a feature throughout the game and some great hold up work from JJ Hanrahan and Damian De Allende secured a turnover. From the scrum, Munster won a penalty and kicked to touch. A powerful maul brought play up to the Connacht 22 as the hosts infringed. JJ Hanrahan kicked at goal from the penalty and his effort was successful as we opened up a 0-3 lead after 11 minutes.
Jean Kleyn was replaced by Fineen Wycherley five minutes later after the second row suffered a knock when making a tackle.
Some good work from James Cronin at the breakdown allowed Hanrahan to kick Munster up to the Connacht 22. From here, Munster’s maul drove up the 5m line before a series of close-range carries resulted in Chris Farrell to ghost through a gap in the defence to score the first try of the game. Hanrahan’s conversion gave Munster a 10-0 lead at the midway point of the first half.
Connacht responded by edging the territorial and possession stakes approaching the 30-minute mark. A Connacht maul 5m out from the Munster line saw some resolute Munster defending which eventually forced a knock-on from the hosts.
The hosts continued to attack and this time Guinness Player Of The Match Tadhg Beirne got his hands on the ball to win a penalty and relieve the pressure. However, with a clock in the red, Connacht were awarded an opportunity to register their first points of the game and Carty made no mistake this time as the sides went in for half-time with Munster leading 3-10.
At the beginning of the second half, an early Munster penalty saw the visitors regain their 10-point advantage thanks to the boot of Hanrahan.
Connacht responded with a period of possession in the Munster 22 but Beirne stepped up once again to relieve the pressure with an excellent turnover.
A slick lineout strike move involving Conor Murray, CJ Stander and Hanrahan put Keith Earls through a gap before Farrell continued the attack with a strong carry. Connacht failed to roll away at an ensuing ruck which allowed Hanrahan to extend Munster’s lead to 3-16.
Munster defended resolutely for the remainder of the game but when Rory Scannell was sent to the bin for infringing on the deck, Peter Sullivan crossed in the corner. Carty’s conversion brought it back to a six-point game.
The hosts then worked their way up the field and although Nick McCarthy received a yellow card which left Munster with 13 men, the defence held firm and forced a knock-on from the hosts to secure the win.
Yellow Card: Shane Delahunt 9′
Penalties: Hanrahan 3
Yellow Card: Rory Scannell 76′, Nick McCarthy 82′
Connacht: 15 John Porch, 14 Ben O’Donnell, 13 Sammy Arnold, 12 Tom Daly, 11 Alex Wootton, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 Sean Masterson, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Sean O’Brien, 5 Quinn Roux (captain), 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Matthew Burke, 18 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 19 Gavin Thornbury, 20 Paul Boyle, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Diarmuid Kilgallen, 23 Peter Sullivan.
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Shane Daly, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 6 Gavin Coombes, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Kevin O’Byrne, 1 James Cronin.
Replacements: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 Josh Wycherley, 18 Keynan Knox, 19 Fineen Wycherley, 20 Billy Holland, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Ben Healy, 23 Rory Scannell.
Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: Chris Busby, Peter Martin (both IRFU)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (IRFU)