Two tries in the final ten minutes of the first half from Sean Scanlon and Thomas O'Leary helped Munster to a 24-9 win over Connacht.
Two tries in the final ten minutes of the first half from Sean Scanlon and Thomas O'Leary helped Munster to a 24-9 victory over Connacht.
It was also a winning send-off for Munster veteran John Hayes at Thomond Park on St Stephen's night as the hosts reclaimed third place in the RaboDirect PRO12.
Ian Keatley put Munster ahead with a penalty on 15 minutes after Connacht were penalised for not rolling away, and they almost added to their lead when Keatley's grubber kick created an opportunity for the hosts.
3-0 became 6-0 on 24 minutes courtesy of another Keatley penatly, before Niall O'Connor responded with a penalty for Connacht following an infringement at the ruck.
Munster then crossed for two tries in ten minutes to establish a healthy lead. First, Sean Scanlon cantered over, before Thomas O'Leary capitalised on Fetu'u Vainikolo's fluffed kick reception to score.
One successful conversion from two attempts by Keatley made it 18-3, and that's how it remained until half-time.
O'Connor missed a penalty for Connacht following the restart and, though he made no mistake minutes later, Keatley restored Munster's 15-point advantage with his third penalty of the afternoon after the visitors had been caught offside.
Though leading the match, Munster's indiscipline would result in a yellow card for Donnacha O'Callaghan, but Connacht were unable to make the numerical advantage count.
The two sides traded further penalties and, though Connacht enjoyed the lion's share of possession and territory in the final stages of the match, they were unable to find a route back into the contest.
Munster's victory sees them maintain their recent winning run, while Connacht are left still searching for the performance that drags them out of the doldrums.
Tries: O'Leary, Scanlon
Pens: Keatley 4
Pens: N O'Connor 3
Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy (c), 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Tiernan O'Halloran, 10 Niall O'Connor, 9 Frank Murphy, 8 John Muldoon, 7 Johnny O'Connor, 6 Dave Gannon, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 George Naoupu, 3 Ronan Loughney, 2 Ethienne Reynecke, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, 17 Dylan Rogers, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Matthew Jarvis, 23 Kyle Tonetti.
Munster: 15 Sean Scanlon, 14 Luke O'Dea, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Danny Barnes, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Tomas O'Leary, 8 Paddy Butler, 7 Niall Ronan, 6 Billy Holland, 5 Mick O'Driscoll capt, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 John Hayes, 2 Denis Fogarty, 1 Marcus Horan.
Replacements: 16 Sean Henry, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Ian Nagle, 20 James Coughlan, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Scott Deasy, 23 Tom Gleeson.
Referee: Dudley Phillips