A 78th minute try from Doug Howlett, converted by Ronan O’Gara helped Munster to a 15-6 win over Connacht on a miserable night for rugby at the Sportsground in Galway.
Howlett picked off an attempted long pass from Connacht out-half Andy Dunne for a score that denied the home side the consolation of a bonus point.
The conditions mitigated against any sort of fluency and although playing against the elemets in the opening half and enjoying the better of the exchanges and more of the possession Munster found themselves trailing 5-3 at half-time.
Paul Warwick had given them the lead with an early penalty and then saw a second effort come back off an upright but right at the close of the half Danny Riordan squeezed over at the left hand corner flag following a searing break from Keith Matthews.
Wihtin minutes of the restart Warwick restored Munster’s advantage with another penalty and his replacement Ronan O’Gara extended the lead with a 40 metre penalty in the 61st minute.
After Munster survived a couple of five metre line-outs they made their way downfield to play out the closing stages in the Connacht 22 with Howlett taking full advantage of Dunne’s adventure to score his second try for the side.
Munster: D Hurley; D Howlett, L Mafi, D Leamy, I Dowling; P Warwick (R O’Gara 58 min), P Stringer (T O’Leary 58 min); T Buckley (M Horan 52 min) (T Buckley), J Flannery (F Sheahan 52 min), J Hayes; D O’Callaghan, D Ryan (P O’Connell 52 min); A Quinlan, D Wallace, A Foley capt (R Tipoki 52 min).
Connacht: G Duffy; M Mostyn, M Deane, K Matthews, D Riordan; A Dunne, C McPhillips; B Wilkinson, A Flavin, R Morris; D Gannon, A Farley capt; J Muldoon, J O’Connor, C Rigney.