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Last-gasp Munster down Scarlets

Sun, 22 Dec 2013 05:50
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Ronan O'Mahony's last-gasp try ensured Munster remain top of the PRO12 after they came from behind to defeat Scarlets in a pulsating game at Musgrave Park.

Heading into the closing minutes, the Irish outfit were trailing 10-9, Scarlets having seen John Barclay touch down in the second-half, converted by Aled Thomas, who had also notched an earlier penalty.

But with Scarlets down to 13 men following yellow cards to Rob Evans and Mike Poole, Munster pounced with the game's final play as O'Mahony's try was finally confirmed by the TMO.

JJ Hanrahan, who also kicked three penalties, converted to seal the win, their eighth in a row in all competitions, and round off a remarkable night's entertainment in wet and windy conditions.

Going into the game, Munster had held a 100 per cent record against Welsh opposition this season and they had an opportunity of striking the first blow of the evening via a penalty, but Hanrahan missed the target.

Scarlets' Thomas then showed the flyhalf how it was done, when he slotted over a long range kick for a 3-0 lead after 14 minutes.

Munster were having joy at the scrum and another strong set piece gave Hanrahan the chance to kick for touch, before they won a penalty from the resulting line out and the Munster flyhalf levelled matters on 23 minutes.

It was proving to be a trade off between the kickers, Thomas this time the one to miss the target when he pulled his 31st minute penalty wide before the two sides entered the break 3-3 with rain pouring down.

And while the first-half action may have been dominated by the penalties, the second 40 started with a bang as Kristian Phillips made a thrilling break for Scarlets before feeding in Barclay to touch down.

Thomas completed the formalities with the conversion and Scarlets, who had not won in any competition since late November, took a 10-3 lead.

But Munster were not prepared to lie down easily and another Hanrahan penalty on 47 minutes brought the deficit to four points before a lengthy break in play due to an injury to Munster's Dave O'Callaghan.

The loose forward was assisted off the pitch by the medics to be replaced by Donncha O'Callaghan.

Despite the change, the momentum was with the hosts and another period of pressure saw Hanrahan kick another three points to move the scores to 10-9 just short of the hour.

He could have nudged his side ahead on 69 minutes but he missed his second penalty of the match as the Scarlets maintained their slender lead.

The Welsh side's cause was not helped when Evans was sinbinned on 73 minutes following a Munster lineout, before Poole joined him three minutes later, leaving Scarlets with 13.

Although sensing a chance to take advantage, Munster were struggling to get their hands on the ball.

But with time almost up, Munster were somehow able to work some space in the corner with O'Mahony appearing to get over the line.

But the tension was not up yet, with Nigel Owens consulting the TMO regarding a possible knock on in the build up, before confirming the try, with Hanrahan converting to complete the comeback.

The scorers:

For Munster:
Try:
O'Mahony
Con: Hanrahan
Pens: Hanrahan 3

For Scarlets:
Try:
Barclay
Con: A Thomas
Pen: A Thomas

The teams:

Munster:
15 Denis Hurley, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Ivan Dineen, 11 Andrew Conway, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Cathal Sheridan, 8 Tommy O'Donnell, 7 CJ Stander, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Billy Holland (captain), 3 BJ Botha, 2 Duncan Casey, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 James Cronin, 18 John Ryan, 19 Ian Nagle, 20 Barry O'Mahony, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Johnny Holland, 23 Ronan O'Mahony.

Scarlets: 15 Gareth Owen, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Gareth Maule, 12 Adam Warren, 11 Kristian Phillips, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Rob McCusker (captain), 7 John Barclay, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Richard Kelly, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Ken Ownes, 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Shaun Hopkins, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Johan Snyman, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Mike Poole.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wal)

Connacht 14-11 Newport Gwent Dragons

Dan Parks held his nerve with a last-gasp drop goal to help Connacht come from behind and edge out Newport Gwent Dragons 14-11 and move off the bottom of the PRO12 table.

A Dan Evans try and two penalties from Jason Tovey had the Dragons ahead in the game right up until the 75th minute when Fionn Carr touched down for the visitors, latching onto Parks' cross-field kick.

And then a final attack set up by the Connacht forwards, who were outstanding all evening, created the chance for the flyhalf to kick a drop goal with just a minute remaining.

Already plagued by a lengthy injury list the hosts lost Dave McSharry after just six minutes to an ankle injury, Carr coming on in his place as there was a reshuffle among the backs.

The Dragons had the wind in their favour during the first half and despite a missed penalty from Tovey after seven minutes from 22 metres out they were ahead not long after through Evans.

A fantastic break from Ross Wardle, catching Robbie Henshaw out in the hosts' defensive line, allowed the fullback to touch down on eight minutes although Tovey was wayward with the conversion.

The flyhalf however was successful from the kicking tee at the third time of asking on 15 minutes, slotting home a penalty, while Connacht were struggling to deal with the stiff breeze.

Connacht were dominant in the scrum but despite earning their best attacking position of the game in the 22nd minute, an interception by Pat Leach almost had the Dragons further ahead.

The centre intercepted a Kieran Marmion pass and made a 50-metre break but thankfully for Connacht Matt Healy was able to get back to make a try-saving tackle.

Another positive scrum earned the hosts a penalty and Parks, backing himself against the wind by going for the posts, got Connacht on the scoreboard for 8-3.

The Dragons failed to make the most of the advantageous conditions in the first half as they couldn't get another score before the break and their lead was cut short just after the restart.

Parks scored a penalty on 44 minutes to move his side within two points of their opponents but they then suffered another blow as Jake Heenan was forced off with an injury.

A Tovey penalty then put the visitors out to an 11-6 lead as the hosts failed to roll away, although the Connacht forwards continued to dominate their opponents and were earning penalty after penalty.

The pressure finally told and the Dragons were reduced to 14 men as Owen Evans was sent to the bin by referee Alain Rolland, Parks however was wayward with the resulting penalty.

With no points gained with their opponents a man light and the rain absolutely hammering down, Connacht faced a tough challenge to gain something from the game.

A pick and drive from the hosts however had them right up to the Dragons try line and after some solid defence a cross-field kick from Parks found Carr and he touched down.

The conversion was just a metre in from the right-hand touchline and Parks wasn't able to put his side ahead as his kick sailed just wide of the posts, the score at 11-11 with five minutes remaining.

The Connacht forwards then set up Parks for a match-winning drop goal and a fantastic strike from all of 30 metres saw his side record just their second win of the season.

The scorers:

For Connacht:
Try:
Carr
Pens: Parks 2
DG: Parks

For Dragons:
Try
: DJ Evans
Pens: Tovey 2

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Gavin Duffy, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Jake Heenan, 6 John Muldoon, 5 Craig Clarke (captain), 4 Mick Kearney, 3 Nathan White, 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Andrew Browne, 20 George Naoupu, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Jack Carty, 23 Fionn Carr.

Dragons: 15 Daniel Evans, 14 Will Harries, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Ross Wardle, 11 Hallam Amos,10 Jason Tovey, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans, 5 Cory Hill, 4 Andrew Coombs (captain), 3 Francisco Chaparro, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Owen Evans.
Replacements: 16 T Rhys Thomas, 17 Hugh Gustafson, 18 Dan Way, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Ieuan Jones, 21 Wayne Evans, 22 Steffan Jones, 23 Ashley Smith.

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ire)

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