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Rowntree's Munster fall to Connacht in game dubbed 'desperation derby'

Gavin Thornbury of Connacht celebrates after the United Rugby Championship match between Connacht and Munster at The Sportsground in Galway. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Connacht crowned their first appearance on the Sportsground’s new 4G pitch with a dogged 20-11 United Rugby Championship derby win over Munster.


A Ben Healy penalty split the teams at half-time, Munster leading 8-5 after Patrick Campbell’s first URC try had cancelled out an earlier effort from Mack Hansen.

The 7,512-strong crowd watched Connacht close the gap to 11-10, a second Healy penalty followed by an unconverted Finlay Bealham maul try.

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Conor Fitzgerald’s 61st-minute penalty saw the Westerners retake the lead, and their first victory of the season was sealed when replacement Paul Boyle barged over in the 78th minute.

Connacht won two early scrum penalties on the all-weather surface before Jack Carty’s long skip pass sent Hansen scampering over in the seventh minute.

The near post denied a slightly rusty Carty from the conversion and a subsequent penalty. His opposite number Healy kicked the ball dead as Munster struggled to get going.

However, at the start of the second quarter, Munster’s lineout maul put the try-line within reach. Campbell’s diving finish in the left corner came from a looping Healy pass.


It remained 5-5 with defences on top, Oisin Dowling stealing two Munster lineouts and Tadhg Beirne picking off two turnover penalties.

Dave Kilcoyne marched the visitors forward from a deflected Peter O’Mahony kick. Connacht infringed on the edge of their 22 and Healy gave his side a three-point interval lead.

Munster were rewarded for their pragmatic approach with a second Healy penalty early on the restart.

Although replacement Jeremy Loughman steadied Munster’s scrum, they were still second best in the lineout. A brilliant Fitzgerald kick set up the bulldozing drive that delivered Bealham’s TMO-confirmed try.


Carty’s frustration grew as he missed a second conversion. He passed the kicking duties to full-back Fitzgerald, who punished Beirne for going off his feet on the hour mark.

Quick hands released Hansen to set up a promising spell for Connacht. Munster repelled them but could not avoid a third defeat in four games.

There was no stopping Boyle from a close-in ruck after the maul was again the ideal launchpad. Fitzgerald converted with aplomb.


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