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Munster Tops in Thomond Park
12 December 2005, 5:31 pm
A try in the 80th minute from prop Federico Pucciariello, operating in this instance as a winger, gave Munster the bonus point in their 36-17 victory over Connacht at a packed Thomond Park.
A try in the 80th minute by prop Federico Pucciariello operating in this instance as a winger, gave Munster a bonus point in their 36-17 win over Connacht in a packed Thomond Park.

It was a victory that Munster richly deserved but the scoreline hardly reflects how close this game was. The home side led 14-7 at half-time but Connacht levelled with a Paul Warwick try which he converted himself and as the game entered the final quarter the visitors were well in touch with just four points separating the sides.

Then came the decisive score in unlikely though inspired circumstances.

Munster were shoved off their own put-in under the Connacht post and the ball was booted clear but came to Tomas O'Leary. O'Leary who had switched to the wing in place of the injured Anthon Pitout, made a delightful break that took him to within a few metres of the Connacht line on the right. When he was stopped the ball was switched left and Ronan O'Gara went long to Gary Connolly who flung a long cut-out pass to Anthony Horgan who ran in unopposed.

O'Gara - a 63rd minute replacement for Man of the Match Jeremy Manning - knocked over the conversion for a score that provided the impetus for Munster to secure the bonus with that late try from Pucciariello.

Munster: S Payne; A Pitout (P Stringer), B Murphy, G Connolly T Halstead), A Horgan; J Manning (R O'Gara), T O'Leary; F Pucciariello, D Fogarty (J Flannery), J Hayes M Horan); T Hogan, P O'Connell capt (M O'Driscoll); D O'Callaghan, D Leamy, S Keogh (A Foley).

Referee: Alain Rolland (IRFU). Touch Judges: Colin Stanley (IRFU), Ken Henley-Willis (IRFU)

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