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Friday, 29 November, 2002, 21:58 GMT
Munster maul Connacht
Mike Mullins' two injury-time tries put the gloss on Munster's win
Mike Mullins (centre) scored two late tries for Munster
Munster 33-3 Connacht

Munster overcame a power cut as well as a determined Connacht side at Musgrave Park to reach the Celtic League semi-finals with a 33-3 win on Friday evening.

Connacht started the brighter side and were dominating possession and territory before a floodlight failure struck in the 13th minute.

The players were taken off the pitch until power was restored 12 minutes later.

When the game got underway, Connacht remained the the team most likely to score.

However within eight minutes of the restart, Munster's Ronan O'Gara had kicked the home side in front against the run of play with a penalty from just inside the Connacht half.

Ronan O'Gara was back from Ireland duty
Ronan O'Gara: Hit 13 points

Connacht were soon back on level terms as Mark McHugh sent his penalty over in the 22nd minute before O'Gara struck again two minutes later in front of the posts to give the home side a 6-3 lead.

Connacht stayed on top and were denied a try in the 28th minute when the Munster defence was stretched to the limit.

Gavin Duffy on the right wing looked certain to score in the corner only to put a foot in touch.

As half-time approached lock Paul O'Connell, playing his first competitive game of the season following back surgery, was sin-binned.

The restart saw a marked improvement from Munster as well as an increase in animosity between the sides.

Welsh referee Nigel Owens sent Munster's Marcus Horan and Connacht's Peter Bracken, to the sin bin just as O'Connell was rejoining play.

  Match facts
Munster (6) 33
Tries: Mullins 2, Horan, penalty try
Cons: O'Gara 2
Pens: O'Gara 3
Connacht (3) 3
Pens: McHugh 1
But Munster were up and running and camped inside the Connacht '22 as the visitors were forced to defend phase after phase.

They continued to keep the Reds at bay before referee Owens awarded a penalty in front of the posts which O'Gara gratefully accepted.

Owens then awarded a penalty try to tip the balance in Munster's favour as O'Gara's conversion opened up a 16-3 lead.

Mossie Lawler touched down in the corner with 12 minutes to go and push Munster closer to the last four before Mike Mullins struck twice with tries in injury time.

Munster: K Keane, C McMahon, M Mullins, J Holland, M Lawlor, R O'Gara, P Stringer, M Horan, F Sheahan, J Hayes, P O'Connell, D O'Callaghan, J Williams (capt), A Quinlan, A Foley.

Connacht: M McHugh, G Duffy, D Yapp, S Moore (capt), T Robinson, E Elwood, K Keane, R McCormack, M Uijs, P Bracken, D Browne, R Frost, P Neville, J O'Sullivan, J O'Connor.
Replacements: F Boiroux, J Flannery, M Swift, E Peters, E Reddan, J Norton, W Munn.


The final

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