Planet Rugby

Munster bounce back in Galway

24th March 2012 21:36

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Simon Zebo Munster Northampton HESC 2012

Try for Munster: Simon Zebo

Munster overturned a half-time deficit to beat Connacht 20-16 in the Pro12 at the Sportsground on Saturday.

Munster bounced back from defeat to Aironi last time out to retain second place in the Pro12 standings.

The hosts opened up a 10-6 half-time advantage thanks to Ethienne Reynecke's try and five points from the boot of Miah Nikora while Ian Keatley responded for the visitors with two penalties.

But Munster gradually asserted their authority in the second period and although two Nikora penalties gave Connacht hope, converted tries from Simon Zebo and Tommy O'Donnell earned the win.

With Leinster's shock defeat to the Ospreys on Friday, it gave Munster a chance to make up ground on the team at the top of the table.

But it was Connacht, who before this game had won just four league games, who took the lead when Nikora kicked a penalty.

Munster hit back almost straight from the kick-off when Keatley converted one of his own, but it was the Galway-based outfit who were looking more threatening.

And after Mick O'Driscoll was sin-binned for the visitors, Reynecke touched down with Nikora converting. Keatley then reduced the deficit to four points at the break with a three-pointer.

However, another penalty from the hosts' fly-half extended their advantage before Munster responded in devastating fashion when Zebo crossed the whitewash. Keatley levelled the match with the conversion and Connacht had to dig in once again.

To their credit, they regained the lead through Nikora's accurate boot, but the Limerick side are always dangerous when presented with an opportunity.

And they broke through the hosts' rearguard when O'Donnell barged over, Keatley adding the extras, as they took the lead for the first time which they never relinquished.

The scorers:

For Connacht:
Try: Reynecke
Con: Nikora
Pens: Nikora 3

For Munster:
Tries: Zebo, O'Donnell
Cons: Keatley 2
Pens: Keatley 2

Yellow card: O'Driscoll (Munster - 23rd min)

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy (capt), 14 Kyle Tonetti, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Henry Fa'afili, 11 Tiernan O'Halloran, 10 Miah Nikora, 9 Frank Murphy, 8 John Muldoon, 7 Ray Ofisa, 6 Mick Kearney, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Ronan Loughney, 2 Ethienne Reynecke, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, 17 Finlay Bealham, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Eoin McKeon, 20 Eoghan Grace, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Matthew Jarvis, 23 Dave McSharry.

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Denis Hurley, 13 Johne Murphy, 12 Lifeimi Mafi, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Tomas O'Leary, 8 James Coughlan, 7 David Wallace, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Mick O'Driscoll (capt), 4 Ian Nagle, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Damien Varley, 1 Wian du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Mike Sherry, 17 Marcus Horan, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Tommy O'Donnell, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Scott Deasy, 23 Luke O'Dea.

Venue: The Sportsground
Referee: Neil Paterson (SRU)
Assistant referees: Paul Haycock, Michael Black (both IRFU)
Citing commissioner: Denis Templeton (IRFU)
TMO: Seamus Flannery (IRFU)

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