Munster monsters dire Connacht
Munster monsters dire ConnachtSHARE
Munster held a slender 10-6 lead ay the half-time break.
However, four second-half tries saw them race into a 39-6 lead – with a late consolation try all that Connacht could manage.
The first half was an even affair – with two penalties from Connacht's Jack Carty being outdone by a try for Darren O'Shea and five points from the boot of Ian Keatley.
But the second period was all Munster's – as Andrew Conway, Keith Earls and Conor Murray all crossed in a ruthless 16-minute spell.
Tom McCartney touched down late for the visitors, but it was a mere consolation as Munster banished memories of defeats to Leinster and Ulster with a domineering performance.
It took Connacht just three minutes to open the scoring in Limerick, with flyhalf Carty making no mistake with the boot.
Munster immediately fought back and almost had their first score but a run of multiple phases ended with a penalty against them just five metres out from the opposition line.
But the Red Army ended the first quarter powerfully, with a period of sustained pressure being highlighted first by Chris Farrell's midfield break and then O'Shea's unstoppable finish – Keatley adding the extras.
Connacht responded with another penalty for Carty, but Munster responded just after the half-hour with a similar effort from Keatley.
With the score at 10-6 at half-time, both sides poked and prodded after the break but were frustrated by several penalties either side of the halfway line.
On 51 minutes Keatley edged his side seven points ahead with a simple shot in front of goal, with Earls making a searing break from the restart that threatened another score.
The important second try came on 54 minutes with Keatley sliding the ball into the corner for Conway to get his fingertips to it in the nick of time.
With the score at 20-6 Munster looked to kill the game off and an excellent first-phase move delivered just that, with Conway pouring through the centre of the pitch and floating a pass out wide for Earls to touch down.
Things looked ominous for Connacht and they became even more so when Quinn Roux saw yellow for a tip-tackle on Earls, with Murray darting over from the next play.
Six minutes later and Murray repeated the trick, Connacht's furious defence did well to repel a host of forward drives on their tryline, but couldn't stop the scrumhalf as he pounced over to seal his double – leaving McCartney's late try unable to affect the result.
Tries: O'Shea, Conway, Earls, Murray 2
Cons: Keatley 4
Pens: Keatley 2
Pens: Carty 2
Yellow card: Quinn Roux (Connacht, 62 – foul play, spear tackle)
Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Christiaan Stander (captain), 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Jack O’Donoghue, 5 Darren O’Shea, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Mike Sherry, 17 James Cronin, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Robin Copeland, 20 Peter O’Mahony, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Bill Johnston, 23 Darren Sweetnam.
Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Pita Ahki, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 John Muldoon (captain), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Cillian Gallagher, 5 James Cannon, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 Conor Carey, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Peter McCabe.
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Conan O’Donnell, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Gavin Thornbury, 20 Paul Boyle, 21 James Mitchell, 22 Craig Ronaldson, 23 Darragh Leader.
Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Sean Gallagher, Nigel Correll (Ireland)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)