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Connacht 16-20 Munster (FT)
19.40 – Hello, and welcome to our liveblog of Munster v Connacht. Can Eric Elwood’s men pull off an upset? We’re about to find out.
19.44 – Here are the teams:
Connacht: G Duffy (cpt), K Tonetti, E Griffin, H Fa’afili, T O’Halloran, M Nikora, F Murphy; B Wilkinson, E Reynecke, R Loughney, M Swift, M McCarthy, M Kearney, R Ofisa, J Muldoon.
Replacements: A Flavin, F Bealham, R Ah You, E McKeon, E Grace, P O’Donohoe, M Jarvis, D McSharry.
Munster: F Jones, D Hurley, J Murphy, L Mafi, S Zebo, I Keatley, T O’Leary; W du Preez, D Varley, BJ Botha, I Nagle, M O’Driscoll (cpt), D O’Callaghan, D Wallace, J Coughlan.
Replacements: M Sherry, M Horan, S Archer, B Holland, T O’Donnell, D Williams, S Deasy, L O’Dea.
19.46 – And we’re underway…
19.53 – Not much to speak of so far, save a drop goal attempt from Nikora that went well wide.
19.55 – Munster are under the cosh at the moment – the majority of the contest so far has been played in their half.
19.58 – Ian Keatley misses his first penalty of the game, dragging it just wide from a good distance out.
20.01 – Munster’s performance has been error-ridden to say the least so far – the kicking has been noticeably poor, and they’re clearly missing some of their big name players.
20.03 – 3-0 TO CONNACHT: Nikora gives Connacht a deserved lead with a penalty straight in front of the posts.
20.05 – 3-3: Munster produce an immediate response, as Keatley brings the game level once more, compensating somewhat for his earlier miss.
20.08 – With 20 minutes gone, it’s been a less-than-thrilling opening to this game. Connacht, though, look up for this, and seem more than capable of causing a surprise tonight.
20.10 – YELLOW CARD FOR MICK O’DRISCOLL! The big man is penalised for obstructing a player off the ball.
20.11 – TRY FOR CONNACHT!
20.14 – Reynecke touches down for Connacht, after a great drive from the Connacht forwards. Nikora makes no mistake with the conversion.
And it’s no more than the hosts deserve.
20.19 – With 10 minutes of the half remaining, Keatley brings Munster to within four points of Connacht with another well-executed penalty.
20.20 – Mick O’Driscoll is about to return to the action.
20.23 – There’s a familiar face in attendance tonight (INPHO/Dan Sheridan).
20.25 – There’s been a nasty collision between Frank Murphy and Felix Jones. Both players are currently down receiving treatment.
20.27 – Connacht really are playing well at the moment, and have a scrum in the Munster 22.
20.29 – And they’ve knocked on at the crucial moment, with the try line at their mercy. Connacht will be very disappointed to only be leading by four at the moment.
20.31 – HALF-TIME: CONNACHT 10-6 MUNSTER
20.33 – At half-time, Munster will undoubtedly be the more relieved of the two sides. They’ve had to defend doggedly for much of this game, against an impressive Connacht outfit.
20.45 – And the second half has begun…
20.47 – Another poor drop goal attempt from Nikora, but he must have known the referee was going to bring it back for a penalty, which he subsequently converts.
20.53 – The ref consults the TMO after Duffy catches a brilliant cross-field kick and looks to have crossed over, but some great defending by Zebo causes him to decide that the ball was held up.
20.56 – Another scrum for Connacht inside the Munster 22. Surely they’ll score a try sooner or later.
20.58 – And another opportunity appears to have gone for Connacht, as Munster demolish their scrum. Shades of Twickenham there.
21.02 – Mike McCarthy knocks on in the Munster 22, as a sense of deja vu prevails. Connacht just seem to lack the required cutting edge at the moment.
21.04 – TRY FOR MUNSTER!
21.07 – Simon Zebo crosses over after an exquisite passing move from Munster, and Keatley then converts in front of the posts. The moment arguably epitomises the difference between the two sides, as Munster finally show their class. Mind you, one of the passes in the build-up looked suspiciously forward.
21.13 – Nikora has retained his 100% kicking record with a penalty in front of the posts to re-establish Connacht’s lead.
21.14 – TRY FOR MUNSTER!
21.16 – O’Leary makes a break and offloads to O’Donnell, who crosses over, untroubled by some flimsy Connacht tackling.
21.17 – And Keatley comfortably converts.
21.20 – Ouch (INPHO/Dan Sheridan)…
21.23 – As Keatley kicks towards the corner, Connacht look set for another noble loss, unless they can produce something special in the dying stages.
21.24 – Less than five minutes left now…
21.27 – Connacht have a line-out deep in Munster territory. Can they produce the type of inventive attack that has eluded them so far?
21.30 – And again, they concede possession when they really shouldn’t. They’re just lacking the necessary spark in attack to open up Munster.
21.32 – Line-out to Munster just inside the Connacht half. This will be the last play of the game.
21.33 – FULL TIME: CONNACHT 16-20 MUNSTER
21.37 – So, another case of so near yet so far for Connacht. They’ve put in another decent performance, but their inability to show the necessary level of attacking invention has ultimately cost them dearly.
Munster, too, still clearly have much work to do. They’ll be satisfied with the result, if not the performance.
21.40 – That’s it from me for another liveblog. Thanks for reading.