Munster secure bonus point against Connacht to move second

Munster's Dave Kilcoyne on the attack against Connacht
Munster's Dave Kilcoyne on the attack against Connacht

Munster climbed to second in the PRO12 as Paddy Butler’s second-half try wrapped up a bonus point 32-23 victory over Connacht on Saturday night.

The title-challengers recovered from falling behind to an early Matt Healy try to cross three times before the break.

Butler secured the bonus point with a second-half try and despite a late fightback from their hosts, Munster held on for the win.

Connacht had lost their last 10 matches against the Irish provinces but took the lead twice in the opening 20 minutes against Munster.

First fly-half Miah Nikora got the ball rolling after 15 minutes of stalemate by kicking a penalty for the first three points of the match only for Munster to storm back.

Wing Andrew Conway scorched over for the opening try and Ian Keatley slotted the extras but on 20 minutes Connacht hit back with a Healy try.

From an attacking scrum Connacht worked towards the red zone and Darragh Leader whipped a fine pass to Healy who did the rest.

However, it proved a false dawn for Connacht as Munster went through the gears to establish a 27-8 half-time lead.

Keatley began the onslaught with two penalties in the space of four minutes before the half-hour and then Munster really hit their stride.

First Gerhard van den Heever intercepted a pass on half-way and blazed his way to the tryline with Keatley adding the extras.

And then a superb chip and chase from Duncan Williams cleared the way for Denis Hurley to grab Munster’s third try of the first half.

To Connacht’s credit they gave as good as they got after the break with No.8 Eoin McKeon going over on 53 minutes.

Nikora slotted a penalty 10 minutes later to close the gap to 16-27 but that proved to be the signal for Munster to come again.

After setting up camp on the Connacht line, Munster finally got the bonus-point try they were looking for when No.8 Butler fought his way over.

Connacht continued to battle on and their persistence was rewarded with two minutes remaining when Danie Poolman ran in an interception try of his own with Dan Parks converting.

A fourth try that would have brought with it two bonus points proved elusive though as Munster climbed to second spot in the table.