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
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand vs Australia08:35
Argentina vs South Africa20:40
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Top 14
Friday , August 22
Toulouse vs Castres20:45
Saturday , August 23
Brive vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Toulon vs La Rochelle18:30
Bordeaux-Begles vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Montpellier vs Grenoble18:30
Bayonne vs Oyonnax18:30
Stade Francais vs Lyon20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , August 22
Pumas vs Griquas19:10
Saturday , August 23
Blue Bulls vs Eastern Province Kings15:00
Western Province vs Lions17:05
Sharks vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Thursday , August 21
North Harbour vs Southland19:35
Friday , August 22
Waikato vs Canterbury18:05
Hawkes Bay vs Taranaki20:05
Saturday , August 23
Northland vs Wellington14:35
Counties Manukau vs Otago16:35
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu vs Auckland14:35
Bay Of Plenty vs Tasman16:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Sunday , August 17
Tasman 35 - 15 Hawkes BayTasman vs Hawkes Bay Report
Northland 23 - 28 Manawatu
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 16
Australia 12 - 12 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
South Africa 13 - 6 ArgentinaSouth Africa vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Clermont Auvergne 30 - 26 GrenobleClermont Auvergne vs Grenoble Report
Brive 37 - 15 La Rochelle
Montpellier 16 - 19 Racing Metro ParisMontpellier vs Racing Metro Paris Report
Bordeaux-Begles 18 - 9 Lyon
Castres 22 - 25 Stade Francais
Toulouse 20 - 19 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Lions 60 - 19 Eastern Province KingsLions vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Western Province 41 - 17 Blue BullsWestern Province vs Blue Bulls Report
Cheetahs 34 - 27 GriquasCheetahs vs Griquas Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Otago 28 - 14 North Harbour
Wellington 25 - 37 WaikatoWellington vs Waikato Report
Canterbury 48 - 9 AucklandCanterbury vs Auckland Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 15
Bayonne 15 - 29 ToulonBayonne vs Toulon Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Sharks 34 - 17 PumasSharks vs Pumas Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Southland 34 - 23 Bay Of Plenty
Thursday , August 14
Taranaki 9 - 9 Counties ManukauTaranaki vs Counties Manukau Report
More ITM Cup results
Currie Cup
Saturday , August 9
Griquas 24 - 31 SharksGriquas vs Sharks Report
Pumas 28 - 21 CheetahsPumas vs Cheetahs Report
Lions 41 - 13 Blue BullsLions vs Blue Bulls Report
Friday , August 8
Eastern Province Kings 16 - 35 Western ProvinceEastern Province Kings vs Western Province Report
More Currie Cup results
Super Rugby
Saturday , August 2
Waratahs 33 - 32 CrusadersWaratahs vs Crusaders Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00