Guinness Pro14: Munster v ConnachtMunster (10) 39Tries: O’Shea, Conway, Earls, Murray 2 Con: Keatley 4 Pen: Keatley 2Connacht (6) 13Try: McCartney Con: Ronaldson Pens: Carty 2
Munster claimed their first Pro14 derby win of the season with a crushing a 39-13 win over Connacht at Thomond Park.
After defeats by Leinster and Ulster, the Reds returned to winning ways with tries by Darren O’Shea, Andrew Conway, Keith Earls and two from Conor Murray.
Connacht had to settle for a late consolation try by Tom McCartney.
Munster will take renewed confidence into their Champions Cup visit to Racing 92, while Connacht must travel to Worcester in the Challenge Cup.
Connacht, in October, made the perfect start when fly-half Jack Carty converted a tricky penalty from close to the right touchline in the third minute.
Munster went in search of an instant response and it took a superb turnover tackle by Connacht scrum-half Caolin Blade to clear the danger.
The home side were eventually rewarded with the opening try in the 20th minute.
A clever delayed pass by Ian Keatley helped Chris Farrell to get over the gainline and a quick clear-out allowed O’Shea to power his way over the line.
Carty and Keatley traded penalties as referee David Wilkinson lectured both team captains about the lack of discipline on display.
Keatley, who was becoming increasingly influential, added his second penalty for the hosts after a strong start to the second half.
The fly-half then turned creator as Munster scored two tries in six minutes.
Keatley’s grubber kick wrong-footed Connacht full-back Tiernan O’Halloran and the Television Match Official ruled Conway had won the race to the bouncing ball.
Keatley and Conway next combined to release Earls on the left wing and the Ireland international made no mistake in the corner.
Connacht were reduced to 14 men when Quinn Roux was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle on Earls and Munster wasted no time in taking advantage as Murray pounced from close range.
The Ireland and Lions scrum-half added a second with an almost identical score in the 70th minute and he was immediately replaced by head coach Johann van Graan.
Following Roux’s return to the field, Connacht managed to claim a consolation try as substitute James Mitchell made a clever break before quick handling allowed McCartney to dot down.
Connacht: T O’Halloran; N Adeolokun, E Griffin, P Ahki, M Healy; J Carty, C Blade; P McCabe, T McCartney, C Carey; Q Roux, J Cannon; C Gallagher, J Butler, J Muldoon (capt).
Replacements: S Delahunt, C O’Donnell, F Bealham (for C Carey, 58), G Thornbury (for J Cannon, 41), P Boyle (for J Muldoon, 58), J Mitchell (for C Blade, 67), C Ronaldson (for J Carty, 67), D Leader (for N Adeolokun, 61).
Munster: S Zebo; A Conway, C Farrell, R Scannell, K Earls; I Keatley, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, R Marshall, J Ryan; J Kleyn, D O’Shea; J O’Donoghue, C Oliver, CJ Stander (capt).
Replacements: M Sherry (for R Marshall, 61), J Cronin (for D Kilcoyne, 52), S Archer (for J Ryan, 52), R Copeland (for J Kleyn, 67), P O’Mahony, D Williams (for C Murray, 71), B Johnston (for C Farrell, 66), D Sweetnam (for S Zebo, 61).