RaboDirect PRO 12: Munster battle past Connacht
Last Updated: 22/12/12 8:08pm
Ian Keatley: kicked crucial points for Munster
A first half penalty try proved to be the difference as Munster defeated Connacht 16-12 in tough conditions in Galway.
Munster crucially struck for 10 unanswered points late in the first half while Connacht hooker Jason Harris-Wright was in the sin-bin.
Ian Keatley converted a penalty try and added his second penalty, handing Rob Penney's men a 13-6 interval lead with Dan Parks booting a brace of penalties for Connacht.
Continuing the recent spate of quickly awarded penalty tries, a close-in scrum saw the seven-man Connacht pack lose ground and referee Dudley Phillips signalled for a penalty try.
Keatley converted the 37th minute effort and rewarded a second ground-gaining scrum from Munster near halfway by landing a crisply struck late penalty.
The run of penalties against was beginning to hurt the westerners, with Keatley nudging over his fourth successful kick on the resumption.
Eoin McKeon won a lineout to set up the Connacht forwards for a series of pick and goes and Parks popped over a close range penalty for a 16-9 scoreline.
A drop goal from 25 metre range from Parks put just four points between the sides, the opportunity coming after young number 8 Eoin McKeon ran hard from turnover ball.
With Mike McCarthy and replacement Michael Swift having more of an impact, Connacht's tails were suddenly up and Munster centre James Downey soon saw yellow for a high tackle on McCarthy.
Parks missed the resulting penalty though and moments later the covering Peter Stringer did just enough to put George Naoupu off as the pair dived for a bouncing ball inside the Munster in-goal area nine minutes from time.
After surviving that late scare, Munster held their ground and their late control of possession wound down the clock for another hard-fought inter-provincial victory.