Munster left it late to snatch victory from Connacht in front of 17,198 in their United Rugby Championship game at Thomond Park on Saturday night.
In a game where Connacht lead on the scoreboard until shortly before half time, the game’s lead swung from side to side in the second 40 minutes.
With two tries per side, Munster’s from Chris Cloete and Diarmuid Barron and Connacht’s courtesy of Paul Boyle and Jack Carty, the home side converted both of theirs while the visitors only managed it once.
Carty pens give visitors an early lead
Two early Jack Carty penalties in the 3rd and 9th minute gave the visitors a deserved early lead.
When Mack Hansen touched down in the corner in the 24th minute, the Westerners thought they had extended their advantage, only for the officiating team to call a forward pass in an earlier phase of the move. A no try decision was given, leaving the Connacht side 6-0 ahead.
Sammy Arnold yellow card
Connacht’s Sammy Arnold was sent to the sin bin following a high tackle on Munster full back Mike Haley. Bundee Aki was first in to tackle the home side’s number 15 but Arnold came in to assist Aki but clashed heads with Haley.
When the referee viewed the incident on the large screen in the stadium, he didn’t have any hesitation in going to his pocket to produce a yellow card for the Connacht centre.
Despite the one man advantage, it took until moments before the half-time whistle for the home side to come to life.
Playing advantage, Munster spread the ball wide with Connacht lacking cover. Tadhg Beirne kicked on the ball but it looked as though it would reach the dead ball line. South African Chris Cloete reached the ball in time, however, and his touch down gave Johann van Graan’s side their first score of the game.
— United Rugby Championship (URC) (@URCOfficial) October 16, 2021
A successful conversion for Joey Carbery gave the home side an unlikely and hardly deserved half-time advantage as they headed to the dressing room 7-6 in front.
Half-time: Munster Rugby 7 Connacht Rugby 6
Carbery increased his side’s lead with a 21 metre penalty in the 48th minute of the game.
Quick thinking and alertness from Connacht saw them retake the lead in the 53rd minute. With Munster failing to pay attention, the visitors quick tap and go saw Paul Boyle crash over for his team first try of the game.
Quick-witted Paul Boyle capitalises on the most complacent of Munster defending to give Connacht an 11-10 lead.
— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) October 16, 2021
Though Carty’s conversion attempt came back off the upright, his side was back in front on an 11-10 score line.
Within five minutes, Carbery put the men in red back in front as the lead continued to see-saw in this tight game. The Munster number 10’s three-pointer meant a 13-11 score in favour of the home side, with just over 20 minutes to play.
Jack Carty was back on the scoresheet on 69 minutes when blocking down a Joey Carbery attempted clearance. A casual clearance effort by the Munsterman was blocked down in front of the posts by his opposite number before he had the easy task of scoring his side’s second five-pointer of the game.
The Connacht captain added the extra two points for good measure, as he put his team five points in front with a frenetic 10 minutes remaining on the stadium clock.
Jack Carty more than atones for his earlier missed conversion, as Joey Carbery is punished for his casual play.
— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) October 16, 2021
The pendulum swung back in favour of the Munstermen when replacement Diarmuid Barron crossed for his side’s second try of the evening. With only two minutes remaining in the game, Carbery had an opportunity to give his side the lead in the dying moments of the tie.
The Munster kicked kept his cool to send the ball between the uprights and give Johann van Graan’s team a 20-18 win.
Full-time: Munster Rugby 20 Connacht Rugby 18
Munster Rugby Team:
15. Mike Haley, 14. Andrew Conway, 13. Keith Earls, 12. Rory Scannell, 11. Simon Zebo, 10. Joey Carbery, 9. Craig Casey.
1. Dave Kilcoyne, 2. Niall Scannell, 3. John Ryan, 4. Jean Kleyn, 5. Tadhg Beirne, 6. Peter O’Mahony (captain), 7. Chris Cloete, 8. Gavin Coombes.
Connacht Rugby Team:
15. Tiernan O’Halloran, 14. John Porch, 13. Sammy Arnold, 12. Bundee Aki, 11. Mack Hansen, 10. Jack Carty (captain), 9. Caolin Blade.
1. Matthew Burke, 2. Dave Heffernan, 3. Finlay Bealham, 4. Niall Murray, 5. Ultan Dillane, 6. Cian Prendergast, 7. Conor Oliver, 8. Paul Boyle.