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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 December 2006, 17:51 GMT
Connacht 8-14 Munster
Connacht's Daniel Riordan is tackled by Munster's James Coughlan
Connacht's Daniel Riordan tries to burst past James Coughlan

Connacht (3) 8
Try: Williams.
Pen: McHugh

Munster (6) 14
Try: O'Leary
Pens: Manning (2), O'Gara

Munster moved to fifth place in the Magners League table by beating a dogged Connacht at the Sportsground.

The Heineken Cup champions won despite having John O'Sullivan and Ronan O'Gara sin-binned on either side of half-time.

Connacht led 8-6 at that stage but a Tomas O'Leary try and a late O'Gara penalty ensured a Munster victory.

Jeremy Manning notched two other Munster penalties while Connacht's scores were a Gavin Williams try and Mark McHugh's first-half penalty.

Aiming to end a four-game losing streak in the league, Connacht started well in the wintry conditions with Munster struggling minus the benched John Hayes, Denis Leamy and captain Paul O'Connell.

McHugh boomed over the opening points from a 22nd-minute penalty but replies from O'Gara's stand-in Manning put Munster 6-3 up by the 34th minute.

Connacht's response was strong and their forwards carved out a number of try-scoring opportunities towards the end of the half but to no avail.

Five minutes into the second period Connacht got their just rewards when centre Williams piled over after a loose throw from skipper John Fogarty had looped over the top of a lineout.

Munster felt there had been a knock-on, but referee David Keane awarded the try and sent O'Gara to the line for dissent.

The Connacht score forced Declan Kidney to introduce Hayes and O'Connell and their presence helped turn the game in Munster's favour.

Peter Stringer reacted quickly after the ball squirted out of a Munster scrum to send winger O'Leary scooting over for a 55th-minute try.

O'Gara narrowly missed the difficult conversion but the impetus was now with Munster.

The Ireland number 10 then found his range on 78 minutes from a penalty to steer Munster to their 27th straight success against Connacht and sixth win on the trot since they went down to Llanelli in November.

Connacht: D Riordan; D Yapp, P Warwick, G Williams, K Matthews; M McHugh, C Keane; B Wilkinson, J Fogarty (c), S Knoop/B Sturgess; D Gannon, A Farley; J Muldoon, R Ofisa, C Rigney.
Replacements: Robinson for Yapp (70), O'Loughlin for Keane (65), Flavin for Fogarty (62), Sturgess for Knoop (69).
Not Used: Swift, Lacey, Hearty.

Munster: C Cullen; T O'Leary, B Murphy, L Mafi, S Payne; J Manning, P Stringer; D Hurley, F Sheahan, F Pucciariello, D O'Callaghan, C Wyatt, J O'Sullivan, D Wallace, J Coughlan.
Replacements: Halstead for Murphy (40), O'Gara for Manning (40), Hayes for D Hurley (40), O'Connell for Wyatt (40).
Not Used: Kyriacou, Leamy, Kelly.

Referee: David Keane (Ireland).

Att: 3,000



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