Planet Rugby

Connacht nilled by Munster

23rd March 2013 19:54

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Paul O Connell Munster v Northampton HEC 2012

O'Connell: Scored for Munster

Munster kept Connacht scoreless at Musgrave Park after blanking their Irish rivals with a 22-0 PRO12 win on Saturday.

Damien Varley touched down twice as Munster kept their play-off hopes alive.

The home side raced into a 12-0 lead through tries from injury-returnee Paul O'Connell and Varley before Ronan O'Gara added a penalty just before the interval.

Although Varley added his second score early in the second half the fourth try proved elusive, and they had to be content with just the three tries which means they reside seven points behind the Ospreys in fourth.

Just one win in five league games has seriously dented the hosts' top-four ambitions and they ideally needed to find the bonus-point here to keep them in contention.

Rob Penney's men dominated the opening exchanges and deservedly went ahead after 10 minutes through O'Connell. The visitors were struggling to deal with the intensity of the Limerick-based outfit and Mick Kearney found himself sin-binned for a late tackle.

They were immediately punished when Varley powered over and, although O'Gara failed to convert, the hosts led 12-0 after a quarter of an hour. However, to their credit, Connacht showed plenty of determination and desire and limited Munster to a single penalty from O'Gara before half-time.

Another try from Varley extended the lead to 22 points after the break and it seemed the home side were on their way to securing the bonus-point victory.

But once again the away team frustrated their more illustrious opponents and displayed a resilient rearguard to keep their rivals out for the rest of the game.

The scorers:

For Munster:
Tries: O'Connell, Varley 2
Cons: O'Gara 2
Pen: O'Gara

Munster: 15 Felix Jones; 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 James Downey, 11 Doug Hurley; 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Cathal Sheridan, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Sean Dougall, 6 Tommy O'Donnell, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Damien Varley, 1 David Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Mike Sherry, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Niall Ronan, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Ivan Dineen.

Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Gavin Duffy (c), 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 John Muldoon, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 Andrew Browne, 5 George Naoupu, 4 Mick Kearney, 3 Nathan White, 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Ronan Loughney, 19 Mike McCarthy, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Fetu'u Vainikolo.

Referee: Alain Rolland (IRFU)

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