Abraham Papali'i shown straight red card for crunching tackle on Conor Murray
Connacht had their first player sin-binned after seven minutes. By the time he returned, they were 14-0 down.
That was only the beginning of a half from hell.
Connacht lost two players to red cards in an eventful first half in their Guinness PRO14 clash with Munster at the Aviva Stadium. On 25 minutes, with his side trailing by 14 points, Abraham Papali'i was shown a straight red card for what referee Frank Murphy deemed to be a high shot to the head of Conor Murray.
Papali'i, who is a rugby league convert, had started brightly but had just been penalised for not releasing at a ruck. Munster got possession from the penalty and the Connacht No.8 went out to get the ball right back.
In real-time it looked a fearsome hit. Slow motion replays showed his shoulder drive up and Murray's head whip back. Murphy felt he had no other option but to show the red card.
Judge for yourself - was this red card merited for the high hit on Murray? pic.twitter.com/PYC00Dy8HU
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) August 30, 2020
Within 10 minutes of that decision, Murphy was reaching into his pocket again as Shane Delahunt was penalised for leading with a high forearm into the throat of CJ Stander.
Once again, the replays looked iffy in slow motion and Murphy reduced the westerners to 13 men after only 34 minutes. The Connacht hooker sought out Stander to apologise and shakes hands on his way off the pitch.
During the half-time break, Gordon D'Arcy and Peter Stringer criticised the two Connacht men sent to early baths:
"The tacklers know their responsibilty, they know they can't do that."@stringer9 and @Gordonwdarcy were not impressed by Connacht forward pair Abraham Papali'i and Shane Delahunt's red-card tackles at the Aviva Stadium.
HT: Munster 21-7 Connacht.#MUNvCON #GuinnessPRO14 pic.twitter.com/OGRzIeaBnA
— eir Sport (@eirSport) August 30, 2020
To compound matters, Munster went 21-0 up before half-time when Jeremy Loughman drove over from close range. Munster's first two tries came with Conor Oliver in the sin-bin for some illegal activities at the breakdown. Chris Cloete and a penalty try had Munster 14-0 up before the more stringent cards were delivered.
The first half ended with fourth and fifth cards being shown - these ones yellow and going to Munster captain Peter O'Mahony and teammate Tadhg Beirne - and Bundee Aki powering over for a try.