Pro12 Rugby: Dan Parks on form but can’t get Connacht past Munster

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DAN Parks’ excellent display with the boot was not enough to create an upset for Connacht as Munster survived a second half comeback in a rain-lashed RaboDirect PRO12 derby encounter at the Sportsground on Saturday.

Munster crucially struck for ten unanswered points late in the first half while Connacht hooker Jason Harris-Wright was in the sin-bin. Ian Keatley converted a penalty try and added his second penalty, handing Rob Penney’s men a 13-6 interval lead with former Scotland man Parks booting a brace of penalties for Connacht.

A third penalty and a drop-goal from Parks set up a grandstand finish during which George Naoupu was inches away from grabbing the match-winning try. The big Connacht lock slid onto a grubber kick in the right corner but failed to get the necessary downward pressure according to television match official Marshall Kilgore.

It was a heartbreaking result for the westerners, who had lost by the exact same four point margin on both of Munster’s last two visits to Galway. Connacht brought the wind and rain home with them from Biarritz last week, and were boosted by the return of stand-in captain Nathan White and Naoupu to their pack. Munster held their ground and their late control of possession wound down the clock for another hard-fought inter-provincial victory.

In Saturday’s only other RaboDirect PRO12 match, Treviso beat Zebre 10-3. Christian Loamanu’s second half try separated the two Italian rivals. Alberto di Bernardo missed three penalties for Treviso before Loamanu’s try and a di Bernardo penalty secured the win.