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Sat 22 Dec 2012 | 07:28

Munster stay in the hunt

Munster stay in the hunt
Sat 22 Dec 2012 | 07:28

Munster stay in the hunt


Munster won a tough, uncompromising, but thoroughly engrossing Pro12 game against Connacht 16-12 at the Sportsground.

The win puts Munster firmly in the play-off race, in third place on 33 points – behind table-topping and unbeaten Ulster (47 points) and Scarlets (38).

Despite thoroughly abject conditions, both sides managed to serve up an entertaining game, with two Dan Park penalties putting the home side in front before Munster milled the Connacht scrum to win the penalty try.

Then from the restart, Connacht were again penalised and from half way Keatley thumped over a huge penalty for that seven-point interval lead and he added another penalty early in the second half that was to prove decisive.

* In the other Saturday match Treviso inched past the Zebre 10-3 in Parma to claim the first-ever meeting between the two sides.

We look at Saturday's matches!

Zebre 3-10 Benetton Treviso

Alberto Di Bernardo's wayward goal-kicking didn't cost Treviso in the end as they inched past the Zebre 10-3 in Parma to claim the first-ever meeting between the two sides.

Fresh from their narrow loss to Leicester, Franco Smith's side were desperate to bounce back, and despite failing to take advantage of Zebre's indiscipline, a try from powerful centre, Christian Loamanu proved the difference between the two sides.

Defences had taken control in the opening half as the teams went in scoreless at the break, although Zebre will have been the happier of the two having seen both props, Salvatore Perugini and Carlo Fazzari sent to the sin bin.

However it was in the absence of Fazzari, early in the second half, that Treviso managed the decisive score, with Di Bernardo knocking over the conversion to make it 7-0.

On the hour-mark Zebre hit back with a penalty from Luciano Orquera, but the Italy flyhalf missed his second attempt six minutes later.

And with four minutes remaining Di Bernardo slotted his first penalty of the match to seal the win ahead of next week's return fixture in Treviso.

Treviso had made the quicker start when Dries Van Schalkwyk was penalised for offside after just three minutes but Di Bernardo's penalty drifted wide.

The visitors were dominating both at the set-piece and in terms of possession, and eventually Perugini was given a yellow card when he was caught offside.

Two minutes earlier Di Bernardo had missed a penalty attempt from a powerful Treviso scrum and he was again off-target on 20 minutes as his third effort bounced back off the post.

The Zebre scrum was still under massive pressure, and it was no surprise that Fazzari was also given a ten-minute break.

Treviso made much the quicker start to the second half and after a period of pressure on the Zebre line, it was the power of Loamanu which saw the visitors open the scoring.

The Japanese international racked up his third try of the season, with Di Bernardo finally hitting the target with the conversion.

Di Bernardo missed another shot at goal soon after, and when Orquera took advantage of Zebre's first chance of the day it looked like they might mount a comeback.

But despite a few threatening attacks, Treviso hung on, and even added another penalty through Di Bernardo.

The scorers:

For Zebre:

For Benetton Treviso:
Con: Di Bernardo
Pen: Di Bernardo


Zebre: 15 Sinoti Sinoti, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Matteo Pratichetti, 12 Paolo Buso, 11 Leonardo Sarto, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Andries van Schalkwyk, 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Nicola Cattina (captain), 5 Josh Sole, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Carlo Fazzari, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Andrea Manici, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Luca Redolfini, 19 Michael van Vuuren, 20 Filippo Ferrarini, 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 Samuele Pace, 23 Ruggero Trevisan.

Benetton Treviso: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Ludovico Nitoglia, 13 Christian Loamanu, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Tommaso Iannone, 10 Alberto Di Bernardo, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Dean Budd, 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Simone Favaro, 5 Corniel Van Zyl, 4 Francesco Minto, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Michele Rizzo.
Replacements: 16 Andrea Manici, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Luca Redolfini, 19 Michael van Vuuren, 20 Filippo Ferrarini, 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 Samuele Pace, 23 Ruggero Trevisan.

Referee: Laurent Cardona ( France, 2nd competition game)
Assistant Referees: Giuseppe Vivarini, Stefano Roscini (both FIR)
TMO: Mauro Dordolo (FIR)

Connacht 12-16 Munster

Munster survived a second half comeback from Connacht in this rain-lashed Pro12 derby encounter at the Sportsground.

Munster crucially struck for 10 unanswered points late in the first half while Connacht hooker Jason Harris-Wright was in the sin-bin.

Ian Keatley converted a penalty try and added his second penalty, handing Rob Penney's men a 13-6 interval lead with Dan Parks booting a brace of penalties for Connacht.

A third penalty and a drop-goal from Parks set up a grandstand finish during which George Naoupu was inches away from grabbing the match-winning try.

The big Connacht lock slid onto a grubber kick in the right corner but failed to get the necessary downward pressure according to TMO Marshall Kilgore.

It was a heartbreaking result for the westerners, who had lost by the exact same four-point margin on both of Munster's last two visits to Galway.

Connacht brought the wind and rain home with them from Biarritz last week, and were boosted by the return of stand-in captain Nathan White and Naoupu to their pack.

Munster made ten changes to the side that went down to Saracens last Sunday, with centres Casey Laulala and James Downey among the five survivors.

The visitors got off to a robust start, carrying strongly in midfield with recent Ireland cap David Kilcoyne very much involved.

Connacht threatened with a deft dink from Parks that David McSharry gobbled up, but the young centre lost the ball in contact.

Parks opened the scoring in the 11th minute, his wobbly penalty from the left going through the posts after Donncha O'Callaghan was pinged for a ruck offence.

It brought about a strong response from the men in red, man-of-the-match Mike Sherry going close at the end of a lineout maul and the attack led to Keatley's levelling penalty.

A cleaner strike from Parks edged Connacht back in front, punishing Tommy O'Donnell for not rolling away.

The former Scotland international was growing in influence, but his opposite number Keatley pulled off a terrific try-saving tackle on Fetu'u Vainikolo as the Tongan winger raced towards the left corner.

The momentum shifted to Munster just before the break as repeated ruck infringements saw Connacht lose Harris-Wright to the sin-bin.

Continuing the recent spate of quickly awarded penalty tries, the resulting close-in scrum saw the seven-man Connacht pack lose ground and referee Dudley Phillips signalled for a penalty try.

Keatley converted the 37th minute effort and rewarded a second ground-gaining scrum from Munster near halfway by landing a crisply struck late penalty.

The run of penalties against was beginning to hurt the westerners, with Keatley nudging over his fourth successful kick on the resumption.

An Eoin McKeon-won lineout set up the Connacht forwards for a series of pick and goes and Parks popped over a close range penalty for a 16-9 scoreline.

A drop goal from 25-metre range from Parks put just four points between the sides, the opportunity coming after promising number 8 McKeon ran hard from turnover ball.

With Mike McCarthy and replacement Michael Swift having more of an impact, Connacht's tails were suddenly up and Munster centre Downey soon saw yellow for a high tackle on McCarthy.

Parks missed the resulting penalty though and the covering Peter Stringer did just enough to put Naoupu off as the pair dived for that bouncing ball nine minutes from time.

14-man Munster held their ground and their late control of possession wound down the clock for another hard-fought interprovincial victory.

The scorers:

For Connacht:
Parks 3
DG: Parks

For Munster:
Penalty try
Con: Keatley
Pens: Keatley 3

Yellow cards: Jason Harris-Wright (Connacht, 36), James Downey (Munster, 63)


Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Tiernan O'Halloran, 13 Danie Poolman, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Johnny O'Connor, 6 Andrew Browne, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 George Naoupu, 3 Nathan White (captain), 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Ronan Loughney, 19 Michael Swift, 20 Eoghan Grace, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Matthew Jarvis, 23 Eoin Griffin.

Munster: 15 Denis Hurley, 14 Johne Murphy, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 James Downey, 11 Luke O'Dea, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 James Coughlan (captain), 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Paddy Butler, 5 Billy Holland, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Sean Henry, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Dave Foley, 20 Sean Dougall, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Danny Barnes.

Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: David Wilkinson, Simon McDowell (both Ireland)
TMO: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)

PV: 6
Munster Stay In The Hunt | Rugby365