Belfast Telegraph

Munster fight off late Connacht rally

Connacht 12 Munster 16: Leaders Munster got out of jail in their Magners League clash at the Sportsground as they survived a furious late onslaught from provincial rivals Connacht.

With Niall Ronan in the sin-bin, Munster's pack had to grit their teeth and see out a series of injury-time scrums, five metres from their line, before Connacht's brave bid was ended by a turnover in the loose.

A fortuitous try from Tom Gleeson and 11 points from the boot of stand-in captain Ronan O'Gara saw Munster edge a tight result that keeps them ahead of the chasing pack in the table.

Ian Keatley, who helped Connacht establish a 6-3 half-time lead, kicked four penalties for the hosts in wet and windy conditions. An early aerial assault led to a first successful penalty from Keatley.

Ezra Taylor was penalised for bringing a maul down illegally, allowing O'Gara to kick Munster level four minutes later.

Keatley restored his side's lead, with the assistance of the left-hand post, after Rob Sweeney had got one-up on Peter Borlase in a scrum. Keatley extended Connacht's advantage to 9-3 after the restart, punishing Borlase for a ruck offence.

Michael Swift was penalised near his 22, and O'Gara mopped up with a well-judged kick, but Keatley's fourth successful penalty kept Connacht on track.

A real comedy of errors led to Munster's all-important try. On 65 minutes, Barry Murphy dropped a pass near the Connacht 22 but a favourable bounce saw him hack on twice before the supporting Gleeson reached out his right hand to dot down just before the end line. O'Gara took centre stage with a brilliant touchline conversion and subsequent drop goal and Munster managed to hold on for a hard-won four points.

Meanwhile, Glasgow earned themselves the bragging rights in the Scottish Magners League derby as tries from DTH van der Merwe, Hefin O'Hare and Max Evans saw them win 30-18 to claim the spoils in the first of the back-to-back Greaves Sports 1872 Cup clashes at Firhill.

Edinburgh's David Blair kicked all his side's points as he booted six penalties out of six while Ruaridh Jackson scored 15 points for the Warriors, but it was the home side's superior strike power in attack that proved the difference.

Belfast Telegraph

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