Leader shows the way as Connacht edge Reds

Munster A 15 Connacht Eagles 19

Neither team bore much resemblance to those that faced off at the Sportsground a month ago, but a measured display from the Westerners — allied to the reliable kicking of out-half Tadhg Leader — was enough to yield the win.

The Eagles were ahead as early as the seventh minute. The move was sparked off by full-back Steve MacAuley whose quick thinking saw him take a quick tap from a mark, before slipping two tackles and taking off on a run that saw him eventually hauled down on the Munster 22.

Two phases later, flanker Eoghan Grace gave the scoring pass to centre Jerome Harimate who dotted down to the left of the posts. Leader made no mistake with the conversion and pushed his side further ahead 10 minutes later with a routine penalty after Munster had been pinged for offside.

Munster were soon on the board through a penalty scored by Scott Deasy, but the out-half was to struggle with the kicking tee, missing three further kicks.

Indeed, his next successful kick was to level the game on the hour mark after the Munster pack had driven over from a driving maul. Substitute hooker Duncan Casey was credited with the try.

While many in the ground expected this to spur Munster on, the score seemed to galvanise the visitors. Penalties from Leader on 62 and 70 minutes saw them take a six-point lead into the closing stages.

Needing a try, Munster went back to basics and an impressive maul took play right up to the Eagles’ line. A series of pick-and-go’s led to a close-in score from flanker Barry O’Mahony, which handed Deasy the chance to put his team ahead with only five minutes to go. But the pushed his kick across the face of the posts.

The last act fell to Leader, whose 80th minute penalty cemented a richly deserved Connacht win.

Scorers for Munster A: D Casey, B O'Mahony. try each; S Deasy pen, con.

Scorers for Connacht Eagles: J Harimate try; T Leader 4 pens, con.

MUNSTER A: J Holland; R O’Mahony, C Hircock, C Bohane, D Moroney; S Deasy, C Sheridan (capt); D Kilcoyne, S Henry, J Ryan; P Donnellan, C O’Flaherty; B Hayes, B O’Mahony, S Buckley.

Replacements: D Casey, J Cronin, C Condon, J Murphy, S Rennison, N Cronin, R Mullane, D Johnson.

CONNACHT EAGLES: S MacAuley; C Finn, J Harimate, F Gormley, M Healy; T Leader, M Walsh; F Bealham, K Haupt, JP Cooney, J Gardiner, D Qualter, TJ Anderson (Capt), E Grace, D Heffernan.

Replacements: P Reilly, J Dever, R Sweeney, C Kindregan, A Conneely, C Lilly, S Johnson, C Boland.

Referee: P Haycock (IRFU).

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