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Connacht show up some weaknesses in Munster’s armour

diving Zebo

Guinness PRO14:
Connacht 20, Munster 16
IN a typical interprovincial battle in the Showgrounds in Galway tonight, Connacht took the spoils with a very spirited performance against a Munster side that lost its way in the third quarter. Losing Andrew Conway to a red card going into the final 20 minutes proved difficult for Rassie Erasmus’s side and they conceded a seven pointer late in the game which cost them dearly.
It took Munster just five minutes to take the lead. Andrew Conway carried the ball infield, Rory Scannell carried and his slick offload sent Simon Zebo over for a try that even Joe Schmidt would be proud of. Ian Keatley converted to put the visitors 7-0 in front. A Keatley penalty on 17 minutes increased the lead to 10-0 and at stage Munster were looking very comfortable.
The expected Connacht response came five minutes later, Darragh Leader made a great break down the right wing, Bundee Aki slipped a pass to Jarrad Butler who sent Tiernan O’Halloran flying past the Munster cover to score under the posts with Jack Carty converting.
Ian Keatley then kicked a penalty to increase the Munster lead to 7-13 but two minutes before the break Connacht cut it to three points with Jack Carty kicking a close-in penalty after the home pack drove the visitors back with an effective maul.
JJ Hanrahan replaced Ian Keatley six minutes into the second half but his first touch saw him knock on a pass. Connacht levelled the tie in the 50th minute, Jack Carty converting a penalty, which was the result of another fine drive by his pack, to set up a hectic final quarter.
A high tackle on a Connacht player resulted in Andrew Conway being shown red by referee Nigel Owens and Munster were now down to 14 players. With JJ Hanrahan kicking well for position, Munster got good field position to force a penalty and Hanrahan found the target from the tee to put his side 13-16 ahead. Connacht’s response was swift, centre Tom Farrell finding a big gap in the Munster defence to race clear for a touchdown under the posts which Carty converted for a 20-16 lead and while Munster fought to the end in search of a winning try, the night belonged to the Westerners who made it three wins from their last three outings.
Munster had to settle for the losing bonus point but this performance will provide a wake-up call for them as they prepare to head into the break with a victory in Cork next week-end against the Dragons.
Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran, Darragh Leader, Bundee Aki, Tom Farrell, Cian Kelleher, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham; Ultan Dillane, James Cannon; Eoin McKeon, Jarrad Butler, John Muldoon (Capt).
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Denis Coulson, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, Eoghan Masterson, Caolin Blade, Craig Ronaldson, Niyi Adeolokun.
Munster: Simon Zebo; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls, Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Rhys Marshall, John Ryan; Mark Flanagan, Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony Capt., Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Liam O’Connor, Stephen Archer, Sean McCarthy, Jack O’Donoghue, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Darren Sweetnam.

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