Connacht stay top with Munster win

Date published: November 28 2015

Connacht continued their stay at the top of PRO12 with an 18-12 win over Irish rivals Munster.

Both sides crossed for a brace of tries in wet and windy conditions at Thomond Park, but it was eight points from the boot of Craig Ronaldson that proved decisive.

Connacht enjoyed marginally more of the attacking territory during the opening exchanges and the pressure was rewarded with an early advantage on the scoreboard courtesy of Ronaldson's first penalty of the evening.

The scoreline of 0-3 became 0-10 when Ronaldson added the conversion to a try awarded by the TMO after Tiernan O'Halloran had got over the line.

Niall Scannell got the hosts on the board when he capitalised on excellent work in the maul to crash over, although Ian Keatley was unable to convert.

There remained five points in it well in to the second half, with the next score coming from the boot of Ronaldson, whose penalty edged the visitors to an eight-point advantage.

A penalty try awarded to Munster with 15 minutes left on the clock and Keatley's conversion – with the sin-binning of Connacht's John Muldoon – set up a grandstand finish.

But Connacht held their nerve before breaking out of defence and creating the opportunity for Aki to go over in the corner.

Ronaldson missed with the goal, offering the hosts a lifeline, but time was against them and the visitors held on for a hard-fought win to remain top of the PRO12.

The scorers:

For Munster:
Tries: Scannell, Penalty Try
Con: Keatley

For Connacht:
Tries: O'Halloran, Aki
Con: Ronaldson
Pens: Ronaldson 2
Yellow Card: Muldoon

Munster: 15 Andrew Conway, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Tomás O'Leary, 8 Robin Copeland. 7 Jack O'Donoghue, 6 CJ Stander (c), 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 James Cronin.
Replacements: 16 Kevin O'Byrne, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 John Ryan, 19 Dave Foley, 20 Jordan Coghlan, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Rory Scannell, 23 Denis Hurley.

Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Tiernan O'Halloran, 13 Bundee Aki, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Matt Healy, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9  Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoghan Masterson, 7 James Connolly, 6 John Muldoon (c), 5 Aly Muldowney, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Nathan White, 2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 George Naoupu, 20 Sean O'Brien, 21 Ian Porter, 22 Jack Carty, 23 Darragh Leader.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Mark Patton (Ireland), Jonathan Peak (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)