Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Henshaw on fire as Connacht overpower Munster

Pat Lam masterminded Connacht’s first win over Munster in six years, and a second since 1986.

Connacht 24

Munster 16

CONNACHT SUMMONED A ferocious display at the Sportsground to claim only their second victory over Munster since 1986.

In the previous 41 encounters between the teams Connacht had posted only one win in December 2008 and though they endured a shaky start Pat Lam’s charges recovered impressively.

Eager and enthusiastic early on Munster controlled the first quarter as Connacht struggled to deal with the visitors, who were prompted by Ian Keatley.

Despite a swirling wind the former Connacht fly-half nailed a gorgeous penalty in the eighth minute before Munster nipped in for a try.

That score arrived in the 11th minute when Duncan Casey’s lineout was taken in splendid fashion by Paul O’Connell.

From the ensuing maul Munster captain Peter O’Mahony touched down with Keatley expertly adding the touchline conversion.

Keatley rifled over a 16th minute penalty as Munster extended their advantage to 0-13, but then Connacht enjoyed a promising burst.

Lam’s team manufactured a glorious try on the half hour mark as Craig Ronaldson’s cute chip was caught by Robbie Henshaw, who subsequently released Kieran Marmion.

Kieran Marmion scores a try Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Ronaldson confidently converted as Connacht trimmed the deficit, but a 39th minute Keatley penalty ensured Munster departed at the interval with a 7-16 lead.

Connacht remained fiery and physical grabbing a second try three minutes after the restart when Ronaldson went over following smart approach work by centres Henshaw and Bundee Aki.

Out-half Ronaldson was forced off injured, but Darragh Leader slotted the conversion as Connacht cut the gap down to two points.

The drama continued as Connacht hit the front courtesy of a penalty from replacement Miah Nikora in the 56th minute.

Robbie Henshaw makes a break James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Marmion was at his sniping best and a break from the scrum-half led to Aly Muldowney’s 61st minute try for Connacht.

Leader’s conversion was accurate as Connacht, roared on by a increasingly noisy crowd, went 24-16 ahead with 19 minutes left on the clock.

From then until the finish Connacht defended in resolute fashion and the celebrations were unsurprisingly wild following a rare triumph over Munster when the full-time whistle sounded.

Connacht: Mils Muliaina; Darragh Leader, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Danie Poolman; Craig Ronaldson, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Rodney Ah You, Quinn Roux, Aly Muldowney, John Muldoon, Willie Faloon, Eoin McKeon.

Replacements: Dave Heffernan for McCartney (17-25 mins), Miah Nikora for Ronaldson (44 mins), Finlay Bealham for Ah You (51 mins), George Naoupu for McKeon (56 mins), Ultan Dillane for Roux (69 mins), Dave Heffernan for Faloon (70 mins), Dave McSharry for Muliaina (74 mins).

Munster: Simon Zebo; Andrew Conway, Pat Howard, JJ Hanrahan, Ronan O’Mahony; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; John Ryan, Duncan Casey, BJ Botha, Billy Holland, Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony, Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne for Casey (41 mins), Eusebio Guinazu for O’Byrne (57-63 mins), Ivan Dineen for Conway (65 mins), Paddy Butler for Stander (70 mins), Dave O’Callaghan for Holland (70 mins), Stephen Archer for Botha (73 mins), Eusebio Guinazu for Ryan (73 mins).

Referee: David Wilkinson.

Henshaw and Marmion combined for this glorious Connacht try against Munster

Ian Keatley used the western wind to his full advantage to nail an outrageous touchline conversion

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