Connacht boss Andy Friend hopes his side's narrow win over Munster will be "season-defining".

The Galway-based side earned their fourth United Rugby Championship victory of the season in a close-fought and sometimes tetchy affair against their southern rivals.

Trailing 8-3 just before the break, the home side held out a barrage of Munster pressure to ensure they were still in the game at half-time.

"I didn’t think we played our best footy, I thought we left chances out there," said Friend.

"Some of the defence, the heart and the energy that they showed tonight, is probably the best I’ve seen. For me that could be season-defining for us to etch out a win playing 'ugly football', I’m going to call it. Just tough footy.

"They are really pleased with themselves, they deserve to be and we’re really proud of them.

"We’ve got 23 players and a heap of staff that don’t really care [how we won].

"We know we can get better and that’s the key. Some of our attack in the first half was very good, we just didn’t finish it off.

"Our defence was very good in the first half. There are elements of our game which were very good but there were elements where we tried to force things and we didn’t need to and invited them back into the game.

"We had to roll our sleeves up tonight and we didn’t have the expansive game we are used to playing, so to be able to win in another manner and to win ugly, I’ll use that phrase, is a great sign. We’ve proved to ourselves that we can win in a couple of ways."

Out-half Jack Carty was replaced by Conor Fitzgerald at the end of the opening half.

Friend, whose side welcome Leicester in two weeks’ time, said: "He copped a laceration to his mouth and it was pretty severe so there was no chance of getting that stitched up and back out."

Munster coach Johann van Graan said: "They took their one opportunity better than ourselves and they won the game by one score.

"[The pressure before half-time] was a big opportunity in the game. Five yards out, you back the leadership on the field to make a decision.

"They saw we had momentum and multiple penalties. Connacht defended it really well and we didn’t use the opportunity."