CONNACHT 24 MUNSTER 16
Connacht claimed the prized scalp of provincial rivals Munster after fighting back from 13 points down to clinch a memorable 24-16 New Year’s Day victory in gusty Galway.
The westerners’ first win over Munster since December 2008 - and only their second in the last 42 meetings - saw them extend their unbeaten home record this season to eight games.
Ian Keatley, the former Connacht fly-half, used his knowledge of the famed Sportsground wind to help Munster lead this hard-edged Guinness Pro12 derby 13-0 by the quarter hour mark.
He converted Peter O’Mahony’s 10th-minute try and kicked two penalties in very difficult conditions, before a brilliantly engineered try by Kieran Marmion - started and converted by Craig Ronaldson - got Connacht back in touch.
Keatley’s third successful penalty made it 16-7 to the visitors at half-time, only for wind-backed Connacht to respond with 17 unanswered points in the third quarter.
Well-worked tries from fly-half Ronaldson and lock Aly Muldowney were both converted by Darragh Leader, with Ronaldson’s replacement Miah Nikora landing a 55th-minute penalty.
Although they threw everything at Connacht in a gripping climax, Munster endured a scoreless second half thanks to some defiant, disciplined defending from the hosts.