Planet Rugby

Munster hammer lowly Connacht

26th December 2009 22:36

Share:

Ronan OGara Munster ogara

Ronan O'Gara: Helped Munster to an early lead

Munster's poor Magners League form was left behind for a night at Thomond Park on Boxing Day with an impressive 35-3 win over Connacht.

At a bitterly cold Thomond Park, stand-in captain Ronan O'Gara kicked two penalty goals and converted tries from Ian Dowling and Damien Varley as the defending champions cantered into a 20-0 lead within 28 minutes.

Ian Keatley kicked a penalty in first-half stoppage time for a gutsy but limited Connacht side, but late tries from man-of-the-match Paul Warwick and De Villiers put the seal on Munster's second bonus-point win in six days.

O'Gara and Denis Hurley were the only survivors from the Munster team that hammered Perpignan last Sunday in the Heineken Cup, while Connacht also made a raft of changes after their back-to-back Amlin Challenge Cup wins over Worcester.

The westerners turned down a long-range shot at the posts in a sprightly start but Munster soon gained control and, with Peter Stringer drawing a penalty from Connacht's recent signing George Naoupu, O'Gara stepped up to give his side a 10th-minute lead.

Felix Jones and Varley counter-attacked with vigour and the red wave marched towards the Connacht try-line, with Nick Williams, Niall Ronan and Mick O'Driscoll using their brute strength to barrel forward.

But a well-executed tackle from Brett Wilkinson forced a relieving penalty for Connacht and the game had to be held up for some time as Jones was carried off on a stretcher following a clash of heads with Johnny O'Connor.

Old hands O'Gara and Stringer pressed and probed with pinpoint chips and box kicks, and Jones' replacement Paul Warwick was involved twice before winger Dowling was unleashed for an easy run-in at the right corner.

O'Gara sent over a smashing conversion and penalty and Connacht, who are rooted to the bottom of the table, looked to be crumbling as Munster went for the jugular.

The increasingly influential O'Gara refused a shot at the posts in favour of a punt to touch, setting up a trademark lineout catch and drive which resulted in Varley being mauled over the whitewash.

With sleet falling, O'Gara added the extras and Connacht's night worsened when they lost winger Troy Nathan to the sin-bin for an ill-timed tackle on Warwick.

However, the visitors survived the ensuing forward onslaught and replacement out-half Keatley converted a late penalty to get them on the scoreboard.

Connacht, 20-3 down at the interval, needed to tighten up their defence but penalties at the breakdown were proving costly and Warwick, taking over the kicking duties from O'Gara, drilled a penalty over into a stiff wind to extend Munster's advantage.

The returning Nathan did well to get his leg under the ball and prevent Williams from driving over for Munster's third try, and unforced errors crept into both sides' play during a stop-start second half.

Connacht's skipper for the night, Gavin Duffy, was heroic in defence but he could do little when Warwick chipped over the top and won the foot race to chalk up a 71st-minute try, which he converted himself.

Munster brought Scott Deasy, Duncan Williams and Mike Sherry on for their league debuts and the hosts' late adventure was rewarded when De Villiers powered his way over the line on a 20-metre burst, shrugging off Duffy, Michael Swift and Liam Bibo along the way.

The scorers:

For Munster:
Tries: Dowling, Varley, Warwick, De Villiers
Cons: O'Gara 2, Warwick
Pens: O'Gara 2, Warwick

For Connacht:
Pen: Keatley

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Denis Hurley, 13 Tom Gleeson, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Ian Dowling, 10 Ronan O'Gara (c), 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Niall Ronan, 7 Billy Holland, 6 Alan Quinlan, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Mick O'Driscoll, 3 Tony Buckley, 2 Damian Varley, 1 Julien Brugnaut.
Replacements: 16 Mike Sherry, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 James Coughlan, 19 Tommy O'Donnell, 20 Duncan Williams, 21 Paul Warwick, 22 Scott Deasy.

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy (c), 14 Troy Nathan, 13 Niva Ta'auso, 12 Keith Matthews, 11 Liam Bibo, 10 Miah Nikora, 9 Conor O'Loughlin, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Johnny O'Connor, 6 Mike McComish, 5 Bernie Upton, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Jamie Hagan, 2 Adrian Flavin, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Dermot Murphy, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 Andrew Browne, 19 Ray Ofisa, 20 Ian Keatley, 21 Kierran Campbell, 22 Aidan Wynne.

Referee:Alain Rolland
Assistant Referees: C Stanley (IRFU), J Carvill (IRFU)
TMO: David Keane (IRFU)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
International Match
Saturday , November 1
Barbarians vs AustraliaBarbarians vs Australia Preview
USA vs New ZealandUSA vs New Zealand Preview
More International Match fixtures
LV= Cup
Saturday , November 1
Sale Sharks vs Wasps14:00
Exeter vs Gloucester15:00
Bath vs London Welsh15:00
London Irish vs Leicester15:00
Northampton vs Newcastle16:00
Sunday , November 2
Saracens vs Harlequins13:00
Friday , November 7
Scarlets vs Northampton19:30
Ospreys vs Saracens19:35
Harlequins vs Newport Gwent D'gons19:45
Newcastle vs Cardiff Blues20:00
More LV= Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Saturday , November 1
Cardiff Blues vs MunsterCardiff Blues vs Munster Preview
Scarlets vs ZebreScarlets vs Zebre Preview
Ulster vs Newport Gwent D'gonsUlster vs Newport Gwent D
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 1
Lyon vs Toulouse13:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Oyonnax18:30
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
La Rochelle vs Montpellier18:30
Brive vs Castres18:30
Bayonne vs Clermont Auvergne20:45
Sunday , November 2
Toulon vs Grenoble13:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 31
Ospreys 26 - 11 ConnachtOspreys vs Connacht Report
Glasgow 17 - 9 Benetton TrevisoGlasgow vs Benetton Treviso Report
Leinster 33 - 8 EdinburghLeinster vs Edinburgh Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 26
Castres 16 - 21 LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Report
Clermont Auvergne 35 - 3 Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Report
Benetton Treviso 10 - 26 Racing Metro 92
Wasps 16 - 23 HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Report
Saturday , October 25
Ulster 13 - 23 ToulonUlster vs Toulon Report
Bath 19 - 21 ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Report
Montpellier 13 - 15 GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Report
Northampton 34 - 6 OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Report
Scarlets 15 - 3 LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Rovigo 18 - 33 Cardiff Blues
Oyonnax 15 - 25 Gloucester
Bucuresti 9 - 13 Stade Francais
Exeter 33 - 13 Connacht
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Western Province 19 - 16 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 36 - 32 TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 SaracensMunster vs Saracens Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Grenoble 15 - 25 London Irish
Brive 21 - 26 Zebre
Newport Gwent D'gons 26 - 30 Newcastle
Edinburgh 25 - 17 LOU Rugby
La Rochelle 25 - 13 Bayonne
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615