Planet Rugby

Howlett slips into gear for Munster

28th March 2008 21:48

Share:

Doug Howlett scored for the second time in six days as Munster overcame stubborn resistance from Connacht to take the Magners League points with a 16-5 win at the Sportsground on Friday.

Three minutes from time, the All Black winger intercepted a pass from Connacht fly-half Andy Dunne to race over for the clinching try and push Munster up to second in the Magners League table.

Belying their position at the foot of the table, Connacht scrapped well but fell away in the final quarter with Munster able to introduce the likes of Paul O'Connell, Marcus Horan and Ronan O'Gara as substitutes.

Munster sprung a surprise by drafting Ireland flanker Denis Leamy in at inside centre and leaving Rua Tipoki, who is recovering from a back injury, on the bench ahead of next weekend's Heineken Cup quarter-final against Gloucester.

Leamy played a couple of times previously for the province at number 12 but he was used mostly as a decoy runner during a rain-hit first half.

Connacht, who had Conor McPhillips in at scrum-half for hip-injury victim Conor O'Loughlin, fell behind in the seventh minute when Paul Warwick knocked over a simple penalty.

Munster were much the sharper in the early exchanges, with David Wallace, Peter Stringer and Alan Quinlan particularly prominent.

Dunne did little for the Connacht cause when he let a drop-goal attempt screw off the outside of his right boot and the visitors got within sight of the try line minutes later.

Having made a neat break, Denis Hurley took the wrong option when passing inside in the 18th minute, with Howlett supporting him out wide.

A grubber kick from Warwick, with the Connacht defence caught flat, then had Howlett licking his lips for a try but the action was pulled back after the ball had nicked off referee Simon McDowell.

However, after Warwick watched his second penalty attempt bounce back off a post, Connacht really put their stamp on the game. Munster's play dipped before the interval and the hosts took full advantage.

After a quick turnover, some excellent continuity involving Johnny O'Connor and McPhillips led to Keith Matthews barging past Donncha O'Callaghan and the pacy Daniel Riordan pounced to score in the corner.

Dunne's missed conversion left the Westerners 5-3 ahead at half-time but Munster reasserted themselves with a successful Warwick penalty two minutes into the second half.

Dunne crept a penalty to the left of the uprights and that looked a crucial moment, particularly as a Lifeimi Mafi bust through the middle almost had Munster over for a try.

O'Gara kicked Munster into a 9-5 lead on the hour mark and Connacht botched a chance at claiming a much-needed second try.

The Westerners' pack rumbled up close to the whitewash after Gavin Duffy had kicked a penalty to touch. Yet Connacht's lack of patience and some streetwise play from Quinlan and company saw Munster hold out.

They made the game safe when Howlett hared onto Dunne's pass to score his second try in red, and with O'Gara converting, Connacht's wait for their first win over Munster since November 1986 goes on.

The scorers:

For Connacht:

Try: Riordan

For Munster:

Try: Howlett

Con: O'Gara

Pens: Warwick 2, O'Gara

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy, 14 Matt Mostyn, 13 Mel Deane, 12 Keith Matthews, 11 D Riordan, 10 Andy Dunne, 9 Conar O'Loughlin, 8 Colm Rigney, 7 Jonny O'Connor, 6 John Muldoon, 5 Andrew Farley (C), 4 David Gannon, 3 Robbie Morris, 2 Andrew Flavin, 1 Brett Wilkinson.

Replacements: 16 John Fogarty, 17 Brian McGovern, 18 Andrew Browne, 19 Liam Casserly, 20 Connor McPhillips, 21 Troy Nathan, 22 Darren Yapp.

Munster: 15 Denis Hurley, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Lifeimi Mafi, 12 Denis Leamy, 11 Ian Dowling, 10 Paul Warwick, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Anthony Foley, 7 David Wallace, 6 Alan Quinlan, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 John Hayes, 2 Jerry Flannery, 1 Tony Buckley.

Replacements: 16 Frank Sheahan, 17 Marcus Horan, 18 Paul O'Connell, 19 Mick O'Driscoll, 20 Tomas O'Leary, 21 Ronan O'Gara, 22 Rua Tipoki.

Referee: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

Touch judges: Colin Stanley (Ireland), Eanna O'Dowd (Ireland)

Television match official: Michael Black (Ireland)

Assessor: Brian Stirling (Ireland)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , October 3
Bath vs Saracens19:45
Saturday , October 4
London Irish vs Northampton15:00
Harlequins vs London Welsh15:00
Gloucester vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , October 5
Sale vs Wasps14:00
Newcastle vs Exeter15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , October 4
South Africa vs New Zealand16:05
Argentina vs Australia23:40
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 3
Connacht vs Cardiff Blues19:35
Ulster vs Edinburgh19:35
Zebre vs Ospreys19:35
Saturday , October 4
Leinster vs Munster18:30
Sunday , October 5
Benetton Treviso vs Glasgow14:00
Scarlets vs Newport Gwent D'gons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , October 3
Oyonnax vs Toulon20:45
Saturday , October 4
Bordeaux-Begles vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Brive18:30
Bayonne vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Lyon18:30
Castres vs Grenoble18:30
Toulouse vs Stade Francais20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , October 3
Pumas vs Blue Bulls15:00
Sharks vs Lions19:10
Saturday , October 4
Cheetahs vs Western Province14:00
Griquas vs Eastern Province Kings15:00
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 28
Wasps 35 - 18 NewcastleWasps vs Newcastle Report
Exeter 36 - 13 HarlequinsExeter vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Newport Gwent D'gons 33 - 15 Benetton TrevisoNewport Gwent D
More Guinness PRO12 results
ITM Cup
Tasman 32 - 24 OtagoTasman vs Otago Report
Canterbury 26 - 28 SouthlandCanterbury vs Southland Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 27
Leicester 19 - 22 London IrishLeicester vs London Irish Report
Saracens 40 - 19 Sale SharksSaracens vs Sale Sharks Report
Northampton 31 - 24 BathNorthampton vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
South Africa 28 - 10 AustraliaSouth Africa vs Australia Report
Argentina 13 - 34 New ZealandArgentina vs New Zealand Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Zebre 13 - 6 UlsterZebre vs Ulster Report
Munster 14 - 19 OspreysMunster vs Ospreys Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulon 40 - 17 MontpellierToulon vs Montpellier Report
Grenoble 27 - 25 Racing Metro ParisGrenoble vs Racing Metro Paris Report
Brive 34 - 24 Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax 8 - 19 Clermont Auvergne
Stade Francais 43 - 10 La Rochelle
Lyon 28 - 18 Castres
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Sharks 53 - 24 Eastern Province KingsSharks vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Griquas 8 - 46 LionsGriquas vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Waikato 20 - 22 ManawatuWaikato vs Manawatu Report
North Harbour 28 - 25 Hawkes Bay
Counties Manukau 55 - 7 WellingtonCounties Manukau vs Wellington Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 26
London Welsh 10 - 46 GloucesterLondon Welsh vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 37 - 23 Cardiff BluesLeinster vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens418
2Northampton416
3Bath415
4Exeter414
5Wasps411