Connacht left ‘hurting’ as Munster run in seven tries in Thomond thumping

Pete Wilkins ‘hugely disappointed’ as Munster show their class in URC encounter

Connacht’s Sean Jansen is tackled during his side's defeat to Munster. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
URC: Munster 47 Connacht 12

Munster’s revenge on Connacht for their New Year’s Day defeat is ultimately more timely as their assault on the URC table gains momentum at a crucial time.

Now breathing down the necks of both Glasgow and Leinster, Munster’s demolition of Connacht has provided Graham Rowntree’s side with impetus ahead of Friday’s visit to Edinburgh for the penultimate URC round.

“Six-day turnaround up in Edinburgh, we’ve got good momentum,” Rowntree says. “I don’t need to massively rotate the squad.”

Munster’s seven-try demolition of Connacht was a timely demonstration of their URC title credentials. Connacht, with an away fixture to Leinster still to come, have seen their chances nosedive.


“Hugely disappointing,” says Connacht head coach Pete Wilkins. “When you see a scoreline get away from you like it did, it hurts a lot.

“The overwhelming feeling is that you’ve not done yourself justice, you’ve not done your supporters justice, and as I said to the lads, they will be frustrated because we are better than the performance we delivered today. At the end of the day that is the performance we delivered and we got what we deserved.”

The 35-point victory was nothing short of what Munster were worth on the day, more clinical in their execution and unrelenting in their defence. Connacht, left reeling from that performance, now face a home fixture against the DHL Stormers, and a final fling in the RDS – their hopes of a quarter-final having diminished considerably.

Connacht’s inability to score despite sufficient possession was in stark contrast to Munster, who led 14-7 at the break – a scoreline that failed to reflect their domination. Playing at pace and keeping the ball alive, Munster looked untouchable against a Connacht outfit that not only struggled with the home side’s physicality, but their opponents’ pace in attack.

Leinster-bound RG Snyman was impressive with his carrying ability and eventually a strong Connacht defence was broken when the South African had the reach to claim the opening try within a minute of Shamus Hurley-Langton’s yellow card. It did not get any better for Connacht when losing scrumhalf Matthew Devine to injury before conceding a second try – Calvin Nash breaking through midfield to score, with Crowley adding the extras.

Despite the best efforts of Paul Boyle and Finlay Bealham up front, there was little respite against a well-drilled Munster defence that stymied Connacht’s attacking efforts. A penalty on 31 minutes should have provided a scoring opportunity, but from the resulting kick to touch they failed to secure the lineout.

Eventually Jack Carty spotted space out wide and delivered the perfect pass for Byron Ralston to race in for a much-needed score after 38 minutes, and the Connacht outhalf added the extras to give Pete Wilkins’ side some respite after an opening half with little in terms of possession or territorial control.

Connacht did create chances early in the second half, but failed to capitalise on a Tom Farrell break, and within a minute Munster responded with Nankivill breaking away to make it 21-7, the conversion added from Crowley.

Hurley-Langton could have added to the tally, but for a foot in touch, and led by Aki in attack and Conor Oliver in defence, the visitors tried to claw their way back into the contest. However, the result was well and truly decided when Conor Murray touched down after 63 minutes, despite Byron Ralston adding to Connacht’s tally with a try three minutes later.

Connacht, having failed to capitalise on a break from Jarrad Butler, handed possession immediately back to Munster, and within minutes a superb offload from Nankivell found Joey Carbery to score the fifth, adding the extras for a 35-12 lead.

There was no way back for Connacht before Thomas Ahern and Shane Daly got in on the scoring act to compound Munster’s dominance and Connacht’s misery.

Munster: S Zebo; C Nash, A Nankivell, S O’Brien, S Daly; J Crowley, C Casey; J Loughman, N Scannell, S Archer; RG Snyman, T Beirne; P O’Mahony, A Kendellen, J O’Donoghue.

Replacements: A Kendellen for Coombes (45 mins), A Frisch for O’Brien (48 mins), O Jager for Archer (50 mins), T Ahern for Snyman (57 mins), C Murray for Casey (58 mins), J Carbery for Crowley (59 mins), E Clarke for Scannell (64 mins), M Donnelly for Loughman (68 mins).

Connacht: T O’Halloran; S Jennings, T Farrell, B Aki, B Ralston; J Carty, M Devine; P Dooley, D Heffernan, F Bealham; J Joyce, O Dowling; S Hurley-Langton, C Oliver, P Boyle.

Replacements: C Blade for Devine (24 mins), C Forde for O’Halloran (half-time), J Duggan for Dooley, S Jansen for Oliver, J Aungier for Bealham (all 53 mins), J Butler for Boyle (59 mins), N Murray for Dowling (60 mins), D Tierney-Martin for Heffernan (64 mins).

Referee: A Jones (Wales).