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Dublin: 18 °C Saturday 23 June, 2018
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Good evening, Happy New Year and welcome along to our live coverage of Ulster and Munster’s Pro14 clash.

Kick-off is at 5.35pm and it’s live on TG4 and BBC Two Northern Ireland. Stay with us throughout for the build-up and action as it unfolds.

As always, we love to hear your opinions so feel free to get stuck into the comments section. Predictions?

Here are how the teams will line out. Two late changes, one per side.

Ulster’s Louis Ludik has been ruled out through illness so Darren Cave starts at outside centre.

Similarly, there’s been a late swap on the Munster bench as illness has ruled Ronan O’Mahony — who was included in his first matchday squad since a fractured fibula last April — out.

Ulster

15. Charles Piutau
14. Craig Gilroy
13. Darren Cave
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. Rob Lyttle
10. Christian Lealiifano
9. John Cooney

1. Kyle McCall
2. Rob Herring (captain)
3. Rodney Ah You
4. Alan O’Connor
5. Kieran Treadwell
6. Greg Jones
7. Nick Timoney
8. Jean Deysel

Replacements: Adam McBurney, Callum Black, Wiehahn Herbst, Robbie Diack, Matthew Rea, Paul Marshall, Johnny McPhillips, Andrew Trimble.

Munster

15. Simon Zebo
14. Calvin Nash
13. Keith Earls
12. Sammy Arnold
11. Alex Wootton
10. JJ Hanrahan
9. Duncan Williams

1. James Cronin
2. Niall Scannell
3. John Ryan
4. Darren O’Shea
5. Billy Holland (captain)
6. Tommy O’Donnell
7. Chris Cloete
8. Jack O’Donoghue.

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Rory Loughman, Stephen Archer, Fineen Wycherley, Robin Copeland, James Hart, Bill Johnston, Stephen Fitzgerald.

Just over 10 minutes to go until kick-off at Kingspan Stadium.

Keith Earls arrives Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Charles Piutau ahead of the game Source: Brian Little/INPHO

We’re off.

2 – JJ Hanrahan kicked us off as both sides look to find their feet early on. 1 minute 45 seconds on the clock and we have our first penalty after Jean Deysel didn’t release.

3 – Hanrahan fails to draw first blood for Munster as his kick has the distance but not the accuracy.

5 – Munster are enjoying early spells of possession. Simon Zebo’s attempt at a kick to touch goes over the dead ball line though. Still scoreless as Ulster look to find their feet.

7 – And the northern province are succeeding as more and more players get their hands on the ball and make some ground. It’s a penalty to Munster though and Hanrahan’s attempted kick to touch drops short.

8 - It looks like a dangerous tackle from John Ryan, but he gets away with just a warning from the referee. The home crowd don’t like that.

11 – Penalty to Munster as Hanrahan finds touch on the 22 on this occasion. They’re looking much stronger in the maul and dominating in the early stages of the game.

12 – Calvin Nash comes close to landing a try in the Corner but he’s lifted into touch and it’s a penalty. The ref is having a chat with Rob Herring, of course about discipline, as Munster go for the corner.

13 – Ulster 0 Munster 5 

TRY for Munster after putting Munster under the pump. Niall Scannell touches down off a superb lineout maul.

14 – Hanrahan misses the conversion, so it’s still 5-0 to the visitors.

17 - Ulster will take some confidence from their response as Rob Lyttle creates a chance. John Cooney’s charge is cut out though.

19 – Zebo was Munster’s try-saver there. The lineouts here aren’t the best with some simple errors being made by both sides. Hanrahan will draw some confidence from his improved line kicking.

21 – Munster are going through the phases nicely here, 7m short of the line. The whistle goes as the rain begins to fall, and it’s a scrum 15m or so out to van Graan’s charges.

23 - Fineen Wycherley is called upon to replace Billy Holland. Ulster are struggling here as Munster apply more and more pressure.

24 – Ulster 0 Munster 10

TRY for Munster. Scannell gets his second of the game — again off the maul. And Hanrahan misses another conversion, not ideal for him.

27 - Ulster are awarded a penalty to give the crowd something to cheer about, Cloete penalised. Christian Lealiifano’s kick to the corner is immaculate. Darren O’Shea steals moments after though while Duncan Williams clears the lines.

30 – The Munster forwards are thriving, they’re enjoying this. Scrum penalty after scrum penalty, their dominance is astounding with Ulster feeling the heat.

34 – Ulster 0 Munster 17

PENALTY TRY for Munster. The referee loses patience and awards the seven-pointer. Brilliant work by the pack.

36 - This is fairly disastrous for Les Kiss’ side. 17-0 down at home as half-time approaches. They’re in possession and need to get some points on the board fast.

38 – Munster meanwhile are looking sharp, the pack are immense. Ulster should count their lucky stars that Hanrahan’s kicking from the tee isn’t on form.

39 - Ulster get a much-needed turnover at the lineout but the leaders are back and potent on the attack attack with 60 seconds or so to go.

40 – The clock goes red with Ulster in possession, and Munster are penalised for not rolling away. A chance to open their account just before the break. Ulster opt to go for the corner rather than the posts though.

Half-time: Ulster 0 Munster 17

There’s a 5m lineout which leads to a maul but Jack O’Donoghue single-handedly drives Rob Herring into touch and the whistle sounds.

And we’re back with Lealiifano restarting the action.

42 - Callum Black replaces McCall and Wiehahn Herbst comes in for Ah You. Much-needed fresh legs in the front row, it must be said. Stephen Fitzgerald is in for Nash on the other side.

43 - It’s positive start from Ulster as they look to establish territory. Darren Cave and Charles Piutau are doing well in the early exchanges.

45 - That said, Earls was nearly in for an intercept try but called back for a Munster knock on. Elsewhere, Ulster drive towards the line. Lealiifano’s pass goes to touch though and the momentum dies.

47 – Ulster again, for the third time, opt for the scrum. They’re in a position to get over the line here, but Munster are dogged in terms of their defence.

48 – It’s still Ulster 0 Munster 17

Ulster’s John Cooney spots a gap to cross under the posts but the referee goes to the TMO. It looks like there may have been an obstruction in the build-up. The try was ruled out to boos around the grounds.

50 - It’s deemed that Greg Jones held John Ryan back at the breakdown and Ulster are yet to get points on the board. It looks like Scanell may have picked up an injury in the meantime.

52 - Scannell leaves the field as Kevin O’Byrne comes in. It looks like an arm or shoulder injury of some sort.

Niall Scannell Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

 

54 – Sin-bin for Munster

Fineen Wycherley is sent marching for a breakdown offence. Munster are losing some discipline here and Ulster are going through a period of dominance. They really need to score though.

56 – The hosts are on the front foot here as they charge for the line.

58 – Ulster 5 Munster 17

TRY for Ulster. Darren Cave finds a gap and drives for the line. But….. we’re off back to the TMO it seems?

59 - The TMO is looking at a high tackle on Lealiifano, around his neck. We don’t think the try is in doubt but this could be a red for Sam Arnold.

60 – RED CARD

The try stands. Arnold is dismissed and Munster are reduced to 13 players.

60 – Ulster 7 Munster 17

Cooney converts. Could this be game on?

61 - Zebo hesitates when attempting to collect a kick and is tackled into touch in the 22. Ulster are growing in confidence more and more.

63 – Ulster 12 Munster 17

TRY for Ulster. Craig Gilroy finishes. Brilliant stuff. Cooney fails to convert though.

65 - Munster realise they’re well and truly in a game now. There’s a sense of panic of sorts. It’s still 17-12 though, but they’re hunting a bonus point try. They’re back to 14 men as Wycherley returns to play.

68 – Ulster are panicking a bit themselves though with a sloppy pass around the middle hitting the deck. Munster are making errors too, both Cloete and Williams fumbling the ball. Ulster have a scrum inside their own 22.

69 – A lovely kick from Piutau puts Zebo under pressure and Munster are feeling the heat now as Ulster head in search on an equaliser.

70 – End-to-end stuff. There’s a high tackle on Darren Cave and a subsequent penalty and 5m line out. A try could be coming.

73 – Ulster 17 Munster 17

TRY for Ulster. WOW! We’re level and it’s Gilroy again.

75 – Ulster 19 Munster 17

Cooney nails the conversion and Ulster are in front. Amazing stuff.

78 – Penalty for Ulster for a push on a player off the ball. 14-man Munster are upping the tempo now that they’re behind. Ulster have a line out on their 10m line which goes to plan and they have a scrum now after a knock-on. The definition of a game of two halves.

Full-time: Ulster 24 Munster 17

Failed attempt at the conversion but it doesn’t matter. That’s that. What a comeback.

A game of two halves, indeed. A massive win for Ulster.

And that’s a wrap on the two New Year’s Day inter-pros. Wins for Ulster and Leinster, but what a thriller at Kingspan Stadium. Who would have thought it would have ended that way with Munster 17-0 up at half-time.

That’s all from me but we’ll have a full match report on The42 shortly. Thanks for reading, and have a good one!

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

About the author:

Emma Duffy

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