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Late Carty try not enough for Connacht as Munster take the spoils in Galway

Jack O’Donoghue’s try proved the difference between the sides on a feisty derby day.

Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Connacht 14

Munster 19

AN UNDERSTRENGTH MUNSTER side copper-fastened their lead at the top of Pro14 Conference B when they saw off Connacht in a cracking Christmas clash at the Sportsground in Galway.

Munster never trailed in the contest and, while they had to absorb considerable Connacht pressure, they held out for victory against their neighbours.

The accuracy which Connacht produced in their late comeback win against Gloucester last week wasn’t repeated and Munster, as only they can, made them pay.

There was a pleasant surprise for Quinn Roux on his 100th appearance as his father travelled from South Africa unannounced and presented him with his jersey before he led the side out as captain.

And on a perfect winter’s evening for rugby, thousands of supporters wore hi-vis jackets in a bid to create a new entry for the Guinness Book of Records, while on the field it didn’t take long for sparks to fly with a couple of dust-ups after scrum resets which led to a Connacht penalty.

as-part-of-the-portwest-road-safety-awareness-campaign-supporters-at-the-connacht-v-munster-pro14-game-attempt-to-break-the-world-record-for-the-highest-number-of-people-wearing-hi-vis-jackets-in-the Supporters attempt to break the world record for the highest number of people wearing Hi-Vis Jackets in the one location to raise awareness for road safety. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

But with Conor Fitzgerald failing to find touch and Munster countering and winning a penalty after scrum-half Caolin Blade was adjudged not to release after a heavy hit from Gavin Coombes, JJ Hanrahan opened the scoring with a kick from 20 metres after eight minutes.

Fitzgerald cancelled that after 17 minutes with a penalty from the right before Hanrahan edged Munster back in front three minutes later.

Munster pushed 13-3 clear when a series of surges on the home line ended with flanker Jack O’Donoghue, who had replaced the injured Gavin Coombes, squeezing over after 24 minutes.

Fitzgerald pulled back a penalty for Connacht but they were turned over on the restart and conceded a penalty at a scrum which Hanrahan converted to make it 16-6 eight minutes from the break.

A third penalty from Fitzgerald, after an initial break by John Porch, cut the margin to 16-9 at the interval.

Hanrahan extended Munster’s lead four minutes after the restart with his fifth kick when Connacht failed to clear their lines.

jack-carty-scores-a-try Carty gets his try. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

A Connacht penalty to the corner yielded nothing when they again turned over possession after the lineout and Munster took a 10-point lead into the final quarter.

But Andy Friend’s men got a lifeline seven minutes from time when a high tackle by Hanrahan on Blade saw Jack Carty go to touch on the right and after a superb lineout take by Ultan Dillane they worked the ball infield for Blade to set up Carty for the try on the right.

Carty was unable to land the difficult conversion and Munster took a five point advantage into the closing minutes and they held on by penning Connacht deep inside their own half for the remainder of the game.

Scorers

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Connacht

Tries: J Carty

Conversions: J Carty [0 from 1]

Penalties: C Fitzgerald [3 from 3]

Munster:

Tries: J O’Donoghue

Conversions: JJ Hanrahan [1 from 1]

Penalties: JJ Hanrahan [4 from 4]

Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran (Stephen Fitzgerald ’ 55), John Porch, Tom Daly, Bundee Aki, Kyle Godwin, Conor Fitzgerald (Jack Carty ’ 60), Caolin Blade (Stephen Kerins ’ 73); Denis Buckley (Conor Kenny ’ 71), Dave Heffernan (Shane Delahunt ’ 59), Finlay Bealham (Dominic Robertson McCoy ’ 59), Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux (c) (Joe Maksymiw ’ 72), Eoghan Masterson (Robin Copeland ’ 61), Paul Boyle, Eoin McKeon.

Munster: Shane Daly (Sammy Arnold ’ 59), Calvin Nash, Chris Farrell, Dan Goggin, Liam Coombes, JJ Hanrahan, Craig Casey (Neil Cronin ’ 64); Dave Kilcoyne (Jeremy Loughman ’ 51, Kevin O’Byrne, Stephen Archer (Keynan Knox ’ 64), Jean Kleyn (Fineen Wycherley ’ 71), Billy Holland; Gavin Coombes (Jack O’Donoghue ’10 HIA), Chris Cloete, CJ Stander (c).

About the author:

John Fallon

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