|Munster (14) 20|
|Tries: Cronin, Marshall Cons: Healy 2 Pens: Healy, Carbery|
|Connacht (17) 24|
|Tries: Arnold, Fitzgerald, Marmion Cons: Fitzgerald 3 Pen: Fitzgerald|
Connacht inflicted a first Rainbow Cup defeat on Munster with a breathless win over their inter-provincial rivals.
Fly-half Conor Fitzgerald starred with 14 points, with Sammy Arnold and Kieran Marmion also crossing for Connacht.
Munster scored twice in the first half through James Cronin and Rhys Marshall, but could not find a breakthrough in a tense finale at Thomond Park.
Their losing bonus point ensures they remain ahead of Connacht in the Rainbow Cup North table.
Johann Van Graan’s side were aiming for a clean sweep of inter-provincial wins having defeated Leinster and Ulster in recent weeks, but came up against a determined Connacht who provided the perfect response to last week’s heavy loss to Leinster.
Cronin forcefully drove over to put Munster in front after eight minutes, but the visitors responded immediately as Munster failed to gather Fitzgerald’s restart, allowing Arnold to steal in and slide over in the corner.
The contest was played at a ferocious pace with numerous angry flashpoints keeping referee Dan Jones busy throughout.
Despite the feisty contest, there was only one yellow card, with Shane Daly going to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on after 23 minutes.
Connacht capitalised on the advantage as Fitzgerald slipped through a gap to score, before Marshall responded at the back of a Munster maul to bring the hosts back to within three points at the break.
The only try of the second half came within two minutes of the restart, as Cian Prendercast started a Connacht breakaway in which Marmion scampered through.
With 10 minutes remaining, Munster thought they were over for a seemingly crucial try from Andrew Conway after a scintillating team move, but the score was correctly ruled out for an earlier knock-on by Damian de Allende.
Munster: Gallagher; Conway, Goggin, De Allende, Daly; Healy, Casey; Cronin, Marshall, Ryan; Kleyn, Holland; O’Donoghue, O’Mahony (capt), Stander.
Replacements: N Scannell, Kilcoyne, Archer, Beirne, Wycherley, Murray, Carbery, Earls.
Connacht: Porch, Arnold, O’Brien, Daly (capt), Wootton; Fitzgerald, Marmion; McAllister, Delahunt, Robertson-McCoy; Murray, Dillane; Prendergast, Oliver, Papali’i.
Replacements: Heffernan, Buckley, Bealham, Masterson, Masterson, Blade, Carty, Sullivan.