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Connacht 12-6 Munster

Connacht (6) 12
Pens: Keatley (4)

Munster (3) 6
Pens: Warwick (2)

Munster's Nialll Ronan is tackled by Niva Ta'auso of Connacht
Munster's Niall Ronan is tackled by Niva Ta'auso of Connacht

Bottom club Connacht pulled off a major surprise by beating Magners League pacesetters Munster at the Galway Sportground on Sunday night.

Fly-half Ian Keatley landed all four of his penalty attempts to give Connacht their first home win over their provincial rivals since 1979.

Two Paul Warwick penalties were all under-par Munster could manage.

The leaders did mount some late pressure but Connacht held on to secure a memorable triumph.

Munster hold a three-point lead at the top of the league table, but coach Tony McGahan will be disappointed with his side's display.

Although the likes of Paul O'Connell, Ronan O'Gara and John Hayes were rested, McGahan still fielded 10 players from the team that started the historic clash with the All Blacks in November.

Munster's chances of recording their seventh win in eight league games were dented by two sin-binnings - Niall Ronan and Doug Howlett saw yellow in each half - and Connacht, who moved ahead in the final quarter, had the physical and mental strength to hold on.

The European champions led through Warwick's eighth-minute penalty but two Keatley kicks had Connacht ahead at the break.

Warwick levelled early in the second half with a monster penalty, prompting a sense that the table-toppers would power on to victory.

But when Munster debutant Nick Williams went offside at a ruck, Keatley stroked home the penalty for a 9-6 lead in the 62nd minute.

Connacht survived another spell of pressure near their posts and forced a crucial penalty near the Munster 22 when James Coughlan was seen holding onto the ball on the ground.

The nerveless Keatley slotted the kick and Connacht claimed a glorious and deserved win.

Connacht: G Duffy; T Nathan, N Ta'auso, K Matthews, L Bibo; I Keatley, F Murphy; B Wilkinson, S Cronin, R Morris; M McCarthy, A Farley; J Muldoon, R Ofisa, C Rigney.

Replacements from: A Flavin, R Loughney, A Browne, M Swift, K Campbell, A Dunne, M Deane.

Munster: K Earls; D Howlett, B Murphy, L Mafi, I Dowling; P Warwick, P Stringer; F Pucciariello, J Flannery, T Buckley; M O'Driscoll, D Ryan; A Quinlan, N Ronan, D Wallace.

Replacements: F Sheahan, T Ryan, J Coughlan, N Williams, M Prendergast, J Manning, D Hurley.

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)

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see also
Magners Celtic League 2008/9
29 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union

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