Connacht 12 Munster 37
While both teams were fielding several new players, reigning champions Munster went home with the spoils following a tough but very entertaining encounter that took place in ideal conditions at the Sportsground, Galway.
Munster opened at a fierce pace and went ahead after only two minutes when Niamh Briggs split the home defence on halfway and sent speedster Aimee Lee Murphy Crowe away to score her first senior interprovincial try giving the visitors a 5-0 opening lead.
This shook the Connacht team into action and the remainder of the opening quarter was all about their attack. Their endeavour was rewarded after 14 minutes when a quick tap penalty from 8 meters saw hooker Tanala Kehoe get the touchdown near the posts converted by Clare Raftery to give the hosts a 7-5 lead.
Munster came back quickly and following a series of rucks and good hands across the backs, debutant Aoife Doyle rounded the defence for her first senior interpro try which saw full back Niamh Briggs adding the extras.
The second quarter was even, with both sides creating good chances. Connacht came close on 25 minutes when Grainne Egan cut through the red defence but a try saving tackle by Siobhan Fleming and resulting defensive penalty kept the line safe. However, the resultant lineout was lost and good hands by the home side allowed fullback Mairead Coyne get the touchdown bring the score to 12 a-piece.
This lapse in concentration spurred Munster into attack and from the kick-off put severe pressure on Connacht's defence. From a lineout on the 22, the Munster pack set up a tight maul and controlled their way to the line with Fiona Hayes touching down giving her side a 17-12 lead.
In added time, Munster extended their advantage which saw a Briggs chip through followed by Fleming who forced winger McDonagh to concede a 5 metre scrum. Following a series of rucks, Munster won a penalty which resulted in a lineout for the visitors. Two quick rucks sucked in the defence and quick hands to Aoife Doyle allowed the winger her second try of the day bringing the score to 12-22 at the half time mark.
Munster opened the second half with the same level of intensity and within five minutes had extended their lead. A penalty for offside led to a cleanly won lineout, three quick rucks followed by fast hands across the backs allowed winger Aimee Lee Murphy Crowe get her second try of the day.
The lead was further extended by a Briggs penalty after fifty minutes from 30 metres. On the hour mark, Ger Rea won a turnover ball on halfway, Briggs outwitted the defence and released Doyle for her hat-trick try and Briggs added the points for a 37-12 score.
Connacht to their credit did not give up and their pressure was rewarded on the 75th minute when the Munster defence was breached by fullback Coyne for the last score of the game finishing up 17-37 to the reigning champions.
Munster XV: Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemian); Aimee Lee Murphy Crowe (Clanwilliam), Nicola Scully (Highfield), Ger Rea (Highfield), Aoife Doyle (Shannon); Mollie O'Donnell (UL Bohemian), Mona Fehily (Highfield); Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemian), Kate Sheehan (UL Bohemian), Niamh English (Highfield); Heather O'Brien (Capt.) (Highfield), Orlaith Buckley (Highfield); Ciara Griffin (Tralee), Siobhan Fleming (Tralee), Laura Guest (Highfield). Replacements: Leah Lyons (Fermoy), Zoe Grattage (Highfield), Leah Barbour (UL Bohemian), Maeve D'arcy (UL Bohemian), Genevive Rowland (Nenagh Ormond), Aine Staunton (UL Bohemian), Fiona O'Sullivan (Highfield).
Sun, 8th December, Munster v Ulster, Clonmel RFC, kick-off 1pm
Sat, 14th December, Munster v Leinster, Thomond Park Stadium, kick-off 1pm