Joey Carbery steered Munster to a dogged 31-24 Pro14 defeat of a gutsy Connacht at the Sportsground, and the top of Conference A.

The outhalf stole in for a bonus-point-sealing try in the second half, while his trusty boot allowed the visitors to keep the Westerners at arm's length. But only just. 

It was nip-and-tuck throughout, with Connacht plundering a hat-trick of tries in a lively contest and Jack Carty's effort setting up a grandstand finish. Ultimately, Munster's greater potency proved decisive. 


A boisterous home crowd turned the decibel level right up after hosts struck the first blow 11 minutes in.

Tom Farrell stood Arno Botha up in the tackle, stripped it and then charged 70 metres upfield before dotting down for a fine try. Carty added the extras and the Westerners were purring.

Munster, however, swiftly hit back.

They went through the phases, looking for a crack, and when Keith Earls found one he slickly offloaded to Peter O'Mahony, who barrelled over. Joey Carbery's conversion left them it 7-7 with 17 minutes on the clock.

Eight minutes later, another Munster try. John Ryan was denied a score when the TMO decreed that the ball was just short but Dan Goggin pounced off a scrum to nudge the visitors ahead. Carbery converted again though Jack Carty's penalty on the stroke of half-time left just four points in it.

Two minutes into the second half, they led.

From the restart, Connacht shunted it wide to Tom Farrell. He fed the overlapping Cian Kelleher outside and the 24-year-old applied the finish. Carty's conversion made it 17-14 but Munster came again.

Smooth hands freed Wootton to get close; in the end he slipped it to Goggin, who sauntered over with Carbery hammering over the conversion on 49 minutes.

Carbery extended the lead off the tee before the hour mark. And with 17 minutes to go the outhalf sealed the bonus. A dropped shoulder and clever dummy opened it up for him to take his try and subsequently take the extras.

That seemed to be that but Carty made hay with a well-time run through the middle following god work from Angus Lloyd and Colby Fainga'a. He ran under the posts before taking the conversion and making it a one-score game.

They needed one more chance but Munster controlled the closing stages well to see it out and take the victory. Connacht's losing bonus point was enough to lift them up to third in Conference A above the Ospreys on points difference.