RaboDirect PRO12: Munster beat Connacht in Irish derby clash
Last Updated: 27/12/13 10:09pm
JJ Hanrahan: A try and 17 points with the boot
Fly-half JJ Hanrahan scored all Munster's points as they secured a 22-16 RaboDirect PRO12 victory over Connacht at Thomond Park.
Dan Parks kicked three penalties for the visitors before replacement Dave Heffernan's last-minute try and Parks' conversion secured Connacht a losing bonus point.
Turnovers blighted Connacht's early forays into Munster territory, while the first show of directness from the hosts - James Cronin and new hooker Niall Scannell both carried strongly - set up Hanrahan's opening kick in the ninth minute.
But prop Cronin was the one singled out for offside after a Robbie Henshaw half-break, allowing Parks to get Connacht back level within four minutes.
Matt Healy's man-and-ball tackle on Keith Earls saw the westerners blitz through for a second kickable penalty which Parks tucked away neatly.
Munster though were back in front by the 20-minute mark, their new-look centre pairing of Johne Murphy and James Downey causing damage on the right wing before Hanrahan exposed a gap between Parks and Michael Kearney to score just to the left of the posts.
Hanrahan added the conversion and then lofted over a second penalty, although Connacht were left aggrieved after lock Kearney was wrongly penalised at a lineout - a decision that robbed Nathan White of a try-scoring chance.
Munster continued to be the aggressors nearing half-time but a second try eluded them and, in a scrappy finish, tempers flared after Cronin and Connacht full-back Gavin Duffy clashed at the bottom of a ruck.
Cronin was also in the thick of the action when the second half got under way. He was pulled back by Frank Murphy as he chased his own hack through, with Connacht's centurion scrum half promptly sin-binned.
Hanrahan converted the resulting penalty for a 10-point lead and Connacht were briefly down to 13 players, their tighthead Nathan White seeing yellow for lashing out at Cronin after the Munster prop instigated the incident.
Cronin also spent 10 minutes in the bin and although Hanrahan's fourth successful penalty made it 19-6, Connacht were still a threat.
Henshaw probed from an opportunist kick and replacement scrum half Kieran Marmion made an instant impression by blocking down Duncan Williams' attempted clearance.
As the rain pelted down unmercifully in the final quarter, Parks and Hanrahan added one more penalty apiece as both try-lines remained relatively untroubled.
CJ Stander went close for Munster and Earls and Fionn Carr both had opportunities to stretch their legs, before the visitors strung together their best spell of continuity late on.
John Muldoon barged through on the left wing and a couple of quick recycles allowed Carr to send Heffernan in to the right of the posts. Busy referee Dudley Phillips checked on a previous incident of foul play and allowed the score to stand, with Parks successfully slotting the extras.
Fri 24th Apr
Edinburgh37 - 0Zebre
Ulster26 - 10Leinster
Sat 25th Apr
Connacht13 - 31Glasgow Warriors
Cardiff Blues23 - 31Ospreys
Munster30 - 19Treviso
Dragons10 - 29Scarlets
Fri 8th May
Dragons0 - 0Edinburgh
Leinster0 - 0Treviso
Ospreys0 - 0Glasgow Warriors
Sat 9th May
Ulster0 - 0Munster
Zebre0 - 0Connacht
Sun 10th May
Scarlets0 - 0Cardiff Blues
Sat 16th May
Cardiff Blues0 - 0Zebre
Connacht0 - 0Ospreys
Edinburgh0 - 0Leinster
Glasgow Warriors0 - 0Ulster
Munster0 - 0Dragons
Treviso0 - 0Scarlets
RaboDirect PRO12 2013/14 R11
Leinster moved into second place in the PRO12 after beating Ulster 19-6 in a fiercely competitive derby at the RDS.
Benetton Treviso secured bragging rights in Italian rugby with a much-needed 20-15 victory over bottom side Zebre.
Leinster host Ulster in a RaboDirect PRO12 derby clash in Dublin aiming to bounce back after a recent mini-slump.