Munster saw off a resolute Connacht resistance 32-23 to regain second place in the PRO12 at Galway Sportsground on Saturday.
With Ulster losing to the Glasgow Warriors yesterday, Rob Penney's men had a chance to overtake Mark Anscombe's side in the table, and a superb first half set them on their way.
Tries from Andrew Conway, Gerhard van den Heever and Denis Hurley, as well as the accurate boot of Ian Keatley, gave them a 27-8 lead at interval. The hosts' response before the break came through Matt Healy's touchdown and Miah Nikora's penalty.
They further reduced the deficit in the second half through Eoin McKeon and a second Nikora three-pointer, but Paddy Butler's try secured the bonus-point and the win for Munster, although Danie Poolman crossed the whitewash late on for a consolation score.
Despite enjoying a fine season in both the Pro12 and the Heineken Cup, the visitors showed an element of fallibility in their 22-5 defeat to Glasgow last weekend. Penney would have therefore looked for an instant riposte to that loss, but it was Connacht that opened the scoring via Nikora's penalty.
However, the Limerick-based outfit soon found their stride and Conway's score moved them 7-3 ahead after 17 minutes. That lead didn't last long as Healy touched down following excellent work by full-back Darragh Leader, although Keatley's three-pointer restored Munster's advantage soon after.
A second penalty from the stand-off took the away team further ahead before South African wing van den Heever intercepted a stray pass and scampered clear. It proved to be a significant setback for the hosts who had fought hard in the first half as they conceded again just four minutes later when Hurley crossed the whitewash.
Despite being 19 points in arrears, Connacht started the second period impressively and reduced the deficit when a good off-load from Conor Gilsenan sent McKeon over. Another effort from the tee by Nikora further ate into the lead, but Butler's try erased any thoughts of a comeback. Pat Lam's side had the final word, though, when Poolman touched down late on.
Tries:Healy, McKeon, Poolman
Pens: Nikora 2, Parks
Tries: Conway, van den Heever, Hurley, Butler
Cons: Keatley 3
Pens: Keatley 2
Connacht: 15 Darragh Leader, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Eoin Griffin, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Miah Nikora, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 John Muldoon (c), 5 Andrew Browne, 4 Mick Kearney, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Ronan Loughney
Replacements: 16 Jack Dinneen, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 Conor Gilsenan, 21 Frank Murphy, 22 Dan Parks, 23 Dave McSharry
Munster: 15 Denis Hurley, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Johne Murphy, 12 James Downey, 11 Andrew Conway, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Paddy Butler, 7 Sean Dougall, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 John Ryan, 2 Damien Varley (c), 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Alan Cotter, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Tommy O'Donnell, 21 Gerry Hurley, 22 Conor Murray, 23 Ronan O'Mahony
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Ita)
Assistant referees: David Wilkinson, Mark Patton (both Ire)
TMO: Marshall Kilgore (Ire)