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Three straight losses in the Celtic League last month coupled with their Heineken Cup exit at the hands of Wasps has seen Munster’s confidence at a low ebb of late, with last Friday’s 60-14 defeat to Cardiff Blues particularly galling. A first-half double from Wallace, allied to skipper Anthony Foley’s ninth-minute opener paved the way for a facile win over a jaded Connacht.
They deserved their 57th-minute penalty try, but a hat-trick of yellow cards robbed them of any continuity, and second-half efforts from Munster’s New Zealand duo Jason Holland and Christian Cullen, and Australian lock David Pusey confirmed the six-try win.
The visitors brought the weather with them from the west, but astute kicking from half-backs Eoin Reddan and Jeremy Staunton saw Munster camped in Connacht territory for the opening quarter.
Staunton’s looping drive over Matt Mostyn saw a five-metre lineout for Connacht to defend, but a loose throw-in from skipper Bernard Jackman saw Australian lock Andre Farley struggle in the sunshine. The ever-alert Foley claimed the dropping ball to dive under Mike Walls’ tackle for the try.
Staunton clipped the conversion wide but moved the visitors 8-0 in front from a 28-metre penalty on 23 minutes. Munster rounded off a 20-point first half against 14 men, following prop Dan McFarland’s sin-binning, with a training ground scrum move which saw Reddan flick to Foley for Wallace to ground in injury time.
Eric Elwood scored for Connacht on 52 minutes and five minutes later, down to 13 men with number eight John O’Sullivan sin-binned for going over the top, a slick maul saw referee Hugh Watkins award the penalty try.
But Munster pulled away on the hour mark as Holland went under the posts through Mark McHugh and Conor McPhillips’ tackles on 67 minutes. Pusey had enough brute strength to clamber over in the right corner past McPhillips five minutes later and Cullen completed a double for the hosts over Connacht this season as he ended a fine 40-metre move with his first try and convert with four minutes remaining.