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Munster 25-10 Connacht

Munster (20) 25
Tries: Murphy, Howlett, Pucciariello Con: Warwick 2 Pens: Warwick 2
Connacht (3) 10
Try: Carr Cons: Keatley Pens: Keatley

Niall Ronan and Rory Loughney
Munster's Niall Ronan is tackled by Connacht's Rory Loughney

Leaders Munster moved a step closer to the Magners League title by claiming a comfortable win over a battling Connacht at Thomond Park.

Ian Keatley and Paul Warwick swapped early penalties before impressive Barry Murphy waltzed through some poor tackling to score Munster's first try.

A rout seemed on when Doug Howlett notched another try before the break.

But Fionn Carr grabbed a Connacht try after the break although Freddie Pucciariello replied for Munster.

Tony McGahan's Munster side could clinch the Magners League title next weekend if they defeat the Scarlets and Edinburgh beat the Ospreys.

Connacht made a bright start and fly-half Keatley put the underdogs ahead with an early penalty.

After Warwick levelled for Munster, the home side began to turn the screw with backs Peter Stringer, Murphy and Keith Earls looking especially lively.

Murphy punished some a dreadful attempt of a tackle by Carr to score Munster's opening try in the 20th minute.

Warwick added the conversion and another surging Murphy run set up a simple finish for Doug Howlett in the corner before the interval.

With Connacht 20-3 down at half-time, a massive home win looked on the cards but Michael Bradley's side came out fired-up after the break.

Half-time replacement David Gannon put some resolve into the Connacht pack and he was involved in three forward drives before Carr finished off the pressure to score a deserved try.

Keatley's conversion cut Munster's lead to 20-10 but the home team responded with Howlett going very close to notching another try.

However, Munster's third try did come on 51 minutes as Pucciariello barged his way over from close range.

Munster had ample time to secure the bonus point but Connacht, who defeated the Heineken Cup champions in Galway in December, produced some resolute defending to hold out.

Munster: D Hurley; D Howlett, B Murphy, K Earls, I Dowling; P Warwick, P Stringer; F Pucciariello, D Fogerty, T Buckley; M O'Driscoll (c), D Ryan; N Williams, N Ronan, D Leamy.

Replacements: M Essex for Fogarty 76, B Holland for Williams 70, L Mafi for Hurley 64.
Not Used: Horan, Leamy, O'Leary, O'Gara.

Connacht: G Duffy; F Carr, N Ta'auso, T Nathan, L Bibo; I Keatley, F Murphy; B Wilkinson, S Cronin, R Loughney; A Browne, A Farley; J Muldoon (c), J O'Connor, C Rigney.

Replacements: A Flavin for Cronin 52, B McGovern for Loughney 60, D Gannon for Brown 40, C O'Loughlin for Murphy 74, M Deane for Nathan 40.
Not Used: Ofisa, Dunne.

Referee : J Jones (WRFU).

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see also
Munster 22-5 Leinster
04 Apr 09 |  Irish
Connacht 39-17 Dragons
03 Apr 09 |  Connacht

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