Connacht v Munster

Munster will be hopeful of a win to go further clear at the top against a depleted Connacht side

Patrick Madden Sat, Dec 31
LIVE: Connacht v Munster

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  • 17:04

    Good evening!

    It's time for the last dance of 2016, as Connacht welcome Munster to fortress Sportsground.

    The rugby story of the year was undoubtedly Pat Lam's side defying the odds to win the Pro 12 title in May - doing so playing a thrilling brand of running rugby.

    Meanwhile Munster have enjoyed a resurgence in recent months, with Rassie Erasmus overseeing a change of fortune both domestically and on the continent and steering the province to the summit of the Pro 12.

    All things considered, this is a pretty good way to see the year out.

    For one last time, come on!!!

  • 17:04
  • 17:06
    Pat Lam has seen his squad absolutely decimated by injury in recent months, but there has been some good news for the champions ahead of tonight's game - John Muldoon and Sean O'Brien have both passed late fitness tests. Skipper Muldoon starts at eight with O'Brien on the bench.
  • 17:09

    CONNACHT: Tiernan O’Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun, Rory Parata, Peter Robb, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham; Quinn Roux, James Cannon; Nepia Fox-Matamua, Jake Heenan, John Muldoon (capt). Replacements: Dave Heffernan, JP Cooney, John Andress, Lewis Stevenson, Sean O'Brien, Caolin Blade, Ciaran Gaffney, Naulia Dawai.

    MUNSTER: Andrew Conway; Keith Earls, Francis Saili, Dan Goggin, Ronan O’Mahony; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; James Cronin, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Dave Foley; Billy Holland (capt), Tommy O’Donnell, Jack O’Donoghue. Replacements: Dave Kilcoyne, Kevin O’Byrne, Thomas Du Toit, Robin Copeland, Conor Oliver, Te Aihe Toma, Rory Scannell, Jaco Taute.

  • 17:23

    Tonight is a big test for a threadbare Connacht side against the league leaders. The return of their old warhorse Muldoon is a fillip - and regardless of personnel you can never rule them out under the lights in Galway.

    Erasmus has made a raft of changes from the side which beat Leinster on Stephen's Day, with Francis Saili coming in to make his first Munster start of the season.

  • 17:30
    Here come the teams at the Sportsground!
  • 17:32

    Ian Keatley has the ball in hand.

    And we're off!!!

  • 17:33
    1 min: Connacht tidy enough from the restart and Marmion clears. Munster look to run it back and work it down the left through Earls who slips it inside to Goggin. Early pressure for the visitors on the Connacht 22.
  • 17:35

    2 min: Connacht on the rack early on after Munster muscle their way up to the line. O'Halloran is pinged for not rolling away, and Keatley can open the scoring.

    Looks a windy one out West (for a change) but Keatley drills it down the middle.


  • 17:37
    4 min: Connacht do their best to spoil a Munster scrum but the visitors are slick when they do get it out, Saili stepping dangerously and grubbering through for a good touch with his left.
  • 17:40
    7 min: Broken field ball for Keatley and he spies some space in behind but Marmion covers across excellently and does well to scoop it off his boot straps before finding a good touch.
  • 17:41
    8 min: First chance for the men in green to stretch their legs after they spoil the Munster lineout. It's worked to Adeolokun who is scragged by the covering Saili.
  • 17:43
    9 min: Sniff of a try for Connacht out of nowhere. Marmion hacks a broken ball upfield and hares after it. Keatley is ponderous as he tries to shephard the ball out and Marmion might have got a touch on it - but it's ruled to have gone dead.
  • 17:43
  • 17:45
    10 min: O'Halloran fields a Keatley kick well under pressure from Conway - but play is brought back to the Munster 22 for a penalty, which Keatley sends to touch.
  • 17:47
    12 min: Munster try to be a bit too cute with the ball on the right and get done for crossing. A bit of handbags follows after Robb brings Saili down following the whistle.  
  • 17:49
    14 min: High tackle from Cronin on Parata and Connacht kick the penalty to touch on the left - but lose the ball from the set piece.
  • 17:51
    16 min: This is a very scrappy affair thus far, neither side able to get into any sort of rhythm. It was always likely to be attritional.
  • 17:52
    18 min: Chance for Carty to level things up after forcing a penalty from a Munster scrum. It's a fair way out and it never threatens the sticks, falling to the left.  
  • 17:54
    19 min: It's not a day for kicking, and Munster try to run their way out of their own 10. Eventually Keatley tries to clear and Healy gathers well after the ball got stuck in the wnid.  
  • 17:54
  • 17:58
    23 min: Marmion kicks into the corner and Conway gathers, but he's in touch - five metre lineotu and a big chance for Connacht.
  • 17:59
    24 min: Munster pinch it after a Connacht knock on at the lineout and clear, but Connacht come straight back up to the 22.
  • 18:00
    25 min: Parata breaks the line on the left and looks to offload but there's nobody up in support. Green shirts are quick to arrive but Munster force the turnover. You get the feeling Connacht need to capitalise on this territory.
  • 18:05
    28 min: There's a break in play for an injury, and Sean O'Brien comes on to replace Fox-Matamua.
  • 18:07

    30 min: Munster scrum on their 10 and Bealham absolutely monsters Cronin, winning the hosts a penalty.

    Carty will go for the sticks with the wind behind him, and he stitches a brilliant three points.


  • 18:10
    We've now officially doubled the score tally from the fixture between these two sides on December 27th 2004, when a Paul Burke penalty gave Munster a 3-0 win in Galway. Think those present have just about dried off.
  • 18:11
    35 min: Muldoon rises to pluck the 10 metre lineout out of the air and Connacht have good ball - but Carty spills it forward.
  • 18:13
    37 min: This time Bealham concedes a scrum penalty and Keatley manages to force a good kick into touch. Conditions are brutal now.
  • 18:15

    38 min: Connacht give away another penalty after the lineout - McCartney coming in from the side of a resulting ruck. Keatley is going to try and slot it, with Williams on his belly keeping the ball in place on the tee.

    Good kick and Munster are back in front.


  • 18:16
  • 18:19
  • 18:28

    Raight then, everybody warmed up a bit? The teams are back out in Galway.

    One more unto the breach, dear friends.

  • 18:29
    We're back underway!
  • 18:30
    41 min: And the second half begins in a similar vein to the first as Archer spills a short ball off a ruck in the Connacht half.
  • 18:33

    42 min: Munster put pressure on a Connacht lineout and McCartney is pinged on the 10. Keatley will try and make it three from three, but it fades short and wide.

  • 18:35
    44 min: Connacht win a lineout deep in their own territory and Roux scrambles well to retain it after Muldoon's knock down goes loose. Connacht clear up the right and Adeolokun can't quite keep it in play.
  • 18:37
    45 min: This time the Munster lineout is loose and the Connacht scrum is sturdy just inside their own 10. They look to move it before the ball slows down and Carty stabs a kick through, getting snotted in the process. Connacht win a penalty on halfway though, and O'Halloran stabs a good low kick into touch.
  • 18:39
    47 min: Connacht keep it tight from the lineout before they're finally told to use it. Carty loses it in the tackle and Conway stabs it upfield before zooming towards the Connacht line - but he's called back after the Marshall is adjudged to have knocked forward.
  • 18:40

    49 min: Huge Connacht drive and they win a scrum penalty under the posts. Carty slots it.


  • 18:41
    Big call that. Marshall was unlucky to be penalised for the knock on, and now rather than trailing by eight or 10 points Connacht are level.
  • 18:42
    51 min: Cronin is done for another high tackle on Marmion around the fringes. He gets a talking to and you'd imagine next time he'll be in the bin.
  • 18:44
    52 min: Frantic passage. Neat show and go from Keatley and the offload won't quite fall for Saili. Connacht counter and the ball nearly falls for O'Halloran after it's kicked upfield. He hauls O'Mahony out and Connacht will have the lineout.
  • 18:44
    54 min: Connacht maul and Munster are penalised again. The ball goes back into the corner.
  • 18:46

    55 min: Connacht trying to heave their way up to the Munster line but the visitor's are holding firm and they turn it over with the ball slowing down.

    Keatley clears crossfield into the breadbasket of Conway who hares upfield and deep into Connacht territory. The ball slows on the 22 and is stabbed in behind where the covering Marmion can only slide into touch. Lightning counter.

  • 18:47
  • 18:48

    Five metre lineout for Munster and they set the maul. Marshall nurses it at the back before burrowing his way over the Connacht line.

    Excellent conversion from Keatley.


  • 18:55
    62 min: Connacht need a response. They dig in to win scrum ball on the right before Carty switches play with a kick to Healy on the left and he has space to run into, but when he's hauled down on the 22 he has no support and Mnuster turn it over.
  • 18:57
    65 min: Another solid Connacht scrum and Marmion finds Robb on an inside line, the centre making a hefty carry up towards the 22. Plenty of ball for Connacht but they're going backwards, and when it's kicked it's comfortable for Munster.
  • 18:58
    66 min: Munster kick in behind Adeolokun and he tries to run it back but gets wrapped up and is penalised for not holding on. Keatley sticks it tight into the corner and the visitors have a good chance to finish it off.
  • 19:00

    68 min: Munster work it inside from the lineout, keeping it tight, before it's moved back to Keatley in the pocket who slots a tidy drop goal.


  • 19:02
    70 min: Connacht scrum inside their own 10 and they win a penalty - replacement Dave Kilcoyne is sent to the bin.
  • 19:06
    73 min: Another powerful Connacht scrum on halfway sees Munster penalised again. Lineout for the hosts on the 22.
  • 19:07
    74 min: Connacht maul infield before Blade is told to use it and feeds the backline. Adeolokun arcs his run and pops off to O'Halloran who straightens up and gets deep into the 22. Connacht probing on the 22 but the ball has slowed right down.
  • 19:09

    75 min: Connacht have the advantage. Carty laces a lovely kick to Healy on the left flank but he spills it forward. Big chance gone.

    Carty will go for the posts with the penalty, and he slots it.  


  • 19:10
    77 min: Keatley taking his time over the restart. Three minutes for Connacht to level it up - but they have a lineout to win on their own five metre.
  • 19:10
    78 min: Connacht have two minutes to run the ball out from under their own posts and up the other end. But if anyone can do it...
  • 19:13
    79 min: Connacht have a scrum on the left just inside their own 22. The clock is red, last chance saloon.  
  • 19:14
    80 min: The scrum is a mess and there's a brief interlude for a bit of handbags before it's finally reset.
  • 19:16
    82 min: Connacht scrum penalty and they tap and go but Munster keep them inside the 22. Munster have the ball back but Keatley fails to send it dead with a horribly scuffed kick.
  • 19:16
    83 min: Connacht are still trying but Munster have forced them back to their own five.
  • 19:18
  • 19:46

    Right then, thanks for joining tonight.

    Have a good one, and see you next year!