Henshaw shouted himself hoarse as Connacht repelled Munster with dogged late defence

THERE ARE MANY reasons Connacht deserve no end of praise for their New Year’s Day win over Munster.

Not least, the manner in which they lit up a dreary night with some scintillating attacking moves, or the way they neither panicked at 13 – 0 down, nor felt the nerves at 17 – 16.

However, perhaps the element of the 24- 16 win that will give Pat Lam most cause to burst with pride was the way the defence refused to give up a late score and give Munster a consolation prize of a losing bonus point.

Phase after phase the red shirts picked and drove, piling pressure on on the five-metre line and closer, but the westerners retained focus right to the wire and spoiled long enough to drive their illustrious neighbours to the south backwards.

“The only word to describe it would be a dogfight,” man of the match Robbie Henshaw told TG4 afterwards.

“We were off our feet defending for the last five minutes and I was moved to fullback and I’m quite hoarse after it now. It was a tight affair in tough conditions.”

One game after the halfway point, the win moves Connacht into fifth place in the Pro12 (albeit perhaps temporarily before Leinster face Ulster), eight full points clear of the seventh placed Scarlets.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Despite losing the other two seasonal inter-provincial fixtures, the league position underlines the improvement and greater consistency from the western province this season.

“I think we’re just a much closer group,” enthused Henshaw.

“We’ve a really good mix of  young players with the older players. There’s a good young backline there with Mils [Muliaina] thrown in.

“The leaders are really standing up now. It’s great to see the likes of Kieran Marmion and Darragh Leader standing up with Bundee [Aki] playing unbelievably.

“We’re a closer group and we all just know our roles.”

Henshaw and Marmion combined for this glorious Connacht try against MunsterIan Keatley used the western wind to his full advantage to nail an outrageous touchline conversion

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