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Munster go 11 clear with Howlett brace

Doug Howlett helped himself to two tries as Munster beat Edinburgh 23-13 to move 11 points clear at the top of the Magners League.

This Thomond Park clash was swung in Munster's favour by a Ronan O'Gara penalty and Howlett's second try of the night. It was a steady start from both sides, Chris Paterson and O'Gara trading early penalty goals.

Munster stepped up their efforts and Peter Stringer's pass wide to the right put Buckley squeezing over in the corner -- television match official Brian Fitzgerald confirming the grounding.

O'Gara missed the conversion and Paterson was able to close the gap to 8-6 before wingers Tim Visser and Lee Jones spearheaded the break which led to a Geoff Cross try. Paterson added the extras for a 13-8 scoreline.

However, in injury-time Lifeimi Mafi cut Edinburgh's defence open with a barnstorming break, passing for Howlett to make the right corner, but O'Gara's missed conversion left the sides locked level for the break

The Munster out-half opened the scoring in the second half with a neatly-taken penalty and the crucial moment came 14 minutes from the end.

Munster, who brought on Marcus Horan and Denis Fogarty after long injury lay-offs, followed up on another midfield thrust from Mafi as Johne Murphy laid off for Howlett to score to the left of the posts. O'Gara converted for a 10-point advantage and Edinburgh were kept at arm's reach for the remainder.