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Munster pack helps to power bonus-point home victory over Connacht

By PA
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Munster ended a run of five interprovincial derby defeats as their pack powered them to a 24-17 bonus-point victory over Connacht at Thomond Park.

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Picking up much-needed BKT United Rugby Championship points, Munster’s maul delivered tries for Roman Salanoa and Niall Scannell, while fellow front-rower John Ryan also burrowed over.

Wind-backed Connacht were pegged back to 10 points apiece by half-time, their lone try an intercept effort from Byron Ralston with Jack Carty kicking the other points.

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However, Munster built on unconverted scores from Calvin Nash and Salanoa and deservedly took the spoils, despite Kieran Marmion’s closing score for Connacht.

Captain Carty split the posts with a ninth-minute penalty for the eager visitors, who had lost only one of their last four clashes with Munster.

Barely two minutes later, Nash struck for an unconverted try, Craig Casey breaking from a scrum and feeding the Ireland ‘A’ winger for a pacy finish in the right corner.

The westerners responded to a turnover with one of their own – Bundee Aki and Dave Heffernan held up Nash – and Tom Farrell launched a big break downfield.

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Sniffing out an opportunist try, Ralston picked off a Mike Haley pass just as he attempted to tidy up from a Caolin Blade kick. Carty converted for a 10-5 lead.

Four minutes before the interval, Munster patiently set up Salanoa to cross from a well-controlled drive. Joey Carbery missed his second conversion from out wide.

However, it was Carbery’s weaving break that lit the touch paper for Munster’s improved second-half performance, although they had to do it without injured captain Peter O’Mahony.

Connacht full-back John Porch was sin-binned for taking out Carbery, and Munster were unable to convert as Casey was held up and a Jack Crowley-Tadhg Beirne break also went unrewarded.

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It took Ryan to drive low for the line in the 58th minute, supported by Scannell. A well-worked maul sent Scannell himself over in the 65th minute with Carbery converting for a second time.

Edwin Edogbo was pinged for obstruction, robbing Munster of a possible fifth try, and a late Connacht rally saw Marmion dive over from a 73rd-minute ruck.

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