Munster hammer Connacht

Date published: March 28 2015

Munster boosted their play-off chances with a thumping 42-20 bonus-point win over Connacht to keep the pressure on at the top.

Billy Holland scored the only try of the first half, but Munster cut loose after the break, with Duncan Casey, Simon Zebo, Andrew Smith, Denis Hurley and Keith Earls all crossing.

Miah Nikora's second-half score had given Connacht some hope, but they were well-beaten in the end despite a late try from Shane O'Leary.

Jack Carty opened the scoring with a penalty in only the first minute of the Irish derby.

Looking for revenge for their New Year's Day loss at Connacht, Munster went over for their first try after 12 minutes. The ball was driven close to Connacht's line from the scrum and Holland quickly picked up the ball and snuck past the defence to crash over the line.

Carty had another shot at goal four minutes from half time but he was unsuccessful, meaning Connacht went into half-time 7-3 down but still very much in the game.

Connacht fly-half Carty once again claimed the first points of the second half with a penalty after five minutes to bring the score to within one point.

Ten minutes later, Casey was driven over the try line in the maul for Munster. Ian Keatley converted, and he was on target again when Zebo's try was given the all clear from the TMO when the pass out wide found the winger and he stretched out to put the ball over the line.

Connacht however came back with a try of their own after Nikora sprinted down the wing and crashed over in the corner, minutes after he had come off the bench.

Munster, with a semi-final place clearly in their minds, sent Smith over for the bonus point try on 72 minutes. The home side's captain Hurley was then on the end of a pass from Earls who had snatched the ball from Connacht, who had failed to wrap up the kick through. Hurley finished it off with the try.

O'Leary then went over late on for Connacht but by then they had already lost the game. Earls claimed a try himself in the final minute to finish off the comprehensive victory for Munster.

The scorers:

For Munster:
Tries: Holland, Casey, Zebo, Smith, Hurley, Earls
Cons: Keatley 3, Hanrahan 3

For Connacht:
Tries: Nikora, O'Leary
Cons: Nikora 2
Pens: Carty 2

The teams:

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Denis Hurley (c), 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Billy Holland, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 John Ryan.
Replacements: 16 Duncan Casey, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Paddy Butler, 20 Jack O'Donoghue, 21 Neil Cronin, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Ronan O'Mahony.

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O'Halloran, 14 Darragh Leader, 13 Danie Poolman, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Eoghan Masterson, 6 John Muldoon (c), 5 Aly Muldowney, 4 Mick Kearney, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Quinn Roux, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 John Cooney, 22 Shane O'Leary, 23 Conor Finn.

Venue: Thomond Park
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant referees: Mark Patton (Ireland), Jonathan Peak (Ireland)
Television match official: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)