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Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
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AS IT HAPPENED
As it happened: Munster v Ulster, RaboDirect Pro12
Would the Ulster juggernaut come grinding to a halt, or carry over into 2013?

Is this to be the day Ulster’s unbeaten Rabo run finally ends? The answer is just 80 minutes away.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the game. E-mail Sean@thescore.ie, tweet @thescore_iepost a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

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Munster 24 – 10 Ulster

Good evening  and welcome along to our inter-pro liveblog, folks.

We’re almost ready for kick off in Limerick, so here are the teams.

Munster: D Hurley; D Howlett (captain), C Laulala, J Downey, S Zebo; I Keatley, C Murray; W du Preez, D Varley, BJ Botha; D O’Callaghan, B Holland; P O’Mahony, T O’Donnell, P Butler.

Replacements: M Sherry, M Horan, S Archer, Dave O’Callaghan, J Coughlan, P Stringer, R O’Gara, F Jones.

Ulster: A D’Arcy; C Cochrane, M Allen, L Marshall, C Gilroy; N O’Connor, P Marshall; C Black, R Herring, A Macklin; L Stevenson, N McComb; R Diack, M McComish, R Wilson.

Replacements: N Annett, R Lutton, T Court, A O’Connor, A Birch, M Heaney, S Olding, R Andrew.

KICK OFF: Alain Rollaind, who also reffed the earlier encounter at Ravenhill this season, signals the start.

O’Connor kicks off into the Munster 22, and Ulster soon win possession back. It’s a little bit of possession ping-pong though, as Simon Zebo (fresh from his wig-wearing heroics) breaks clear to bring Munster back into opposition territory.

Munster’s scrum has the Ulster eight back-peddling furiously and we have our first bout of  handbags of the evening.

It all settled down in time for…

PENALTY: Munster 3 – 0 Ulster (Keatley ’3)

Ulster attempted to hit back with an O’Connor drop-goal, but Munster – albeit against a shell of Ulster’s table-toppers – look set to keep a tight stranglehold on this game.

Zebo playing very central, available for a lot of work, and after Munster maul their way over their 10-metre line, spins the ball wide to Paddy Butler.

Ulster will take heart from having the greater territory, but so far they haven’t been able to turn it into anything constructive.

The territory pays with a penalty, but 40 metres on the angle seems well out of O’Connor’s range and his strike does him no favours as it cuts low and left of the posts.

Ulster embark on a decent raid down the right, but a rare poor pass from Marshall is too low for O’Connor and he knocks on.

If you remember the break-neck speed of the meeting in Ravenhill, this is nothing like that.

Munster make their way back into opposition territory amid a torrential downpour. The drift defence is comfortably covering the Reds’ attack at present.

Munster run into trouble again and Damian Varley is pinged for entering from the side.

From 30 yards, directly in front of the posts…

PENALTY: Munster 3  - 3 Ulster (O’Connor 22)

Credit O’Connor. He is forcing Munster to play ball in their own half and a high bomb draws a knock-on from Denis Hurley. Ulster scrum on the 22 is far from solid and Marshall has to scramble before attempting a grubber through.

Hurley clears and the visitors set up a maul from the 22. But it’s not moving.

The back-line move begins with Luke Marshall drawing two tacklers and, as is becoming an Ulster trademark, they switch the ball back only for Macklin to knock-on.

The hosts finally put a move together as Keatley breaks from half way, feeding Laulala to Hurley, all the way to the try-line.

Murray carries, but Munster cannot force it down. Scrum V.

The northern province are enduring a bit of a taste of their own medicine at the minute as they defend their line against a superior scrum.

Penalty, but no penalty try… yet.

… WHOOMPH! There it is.

TRY: Munster 10 – 3 Ulster (Penalty try ’33)

Alain Rollaind has finally had enough of the white front row popping and he runs under the posts with one hand in the air, Alan Shearer style.

SIN BIN: It gets worse for Ulster as Paul Marshall is asked to sit on the naughty step.

Keatley drills the penalty to the corner and Munster’s maul is rolling again.

HALF TIME: Munster 10 – 3 Ulster

The visitors survive with 14 men, and manage to clear to the half way mark.

With any luck, the conditions will ease a little in the second half and allow the players play a little more. Both sides certainly look keen to pass the ball.

The second half is off and running. Ronan O’Gara is itching to get on and take hold of this game.

TRY: Munster 17 – 3 Ulster (Zebo ’45)

Again Munster start the half well and again, Zebo takes up a centres position. The winger picks the ball up metres outside the 22 and picks a gorgeous line through the gap under the posts.

Munster keep threatening to run rampant, but handling errors hold the back. Downey’s offload is intercepted and he’s fortunate there is cover immediately on hand.

Ulster are soon penalised for holding on and the Reds can build again with a five-metre line-out.

TRY: Munster 24 – 3 Ulster (O’Mahony ’50)

You can stop calling Ulster ‘unbeaten’ now. They manage to stop BJ Botha, but after Murray feeds O’Mahony right of the posts he barges through with a helpful shove from Tommy O’Donnell.

59 minutes: Niall O’Connor’s last act is to kick a penalty to touch. Ulster will attack off a line-out with Stuart Olding at fly-half.

After O’Gara arrives on the other side of the fence, Munster manage to turn the ball over and win a penalty off the resulting scrum.

ROG sends the ball spiralling to the halfway line.

Felix Jones is in now too, in place of Hurley. I should add that O’Gara is on in Downey’s place, Keatley switches to 12.

The roar around Thomond Park does not signal a bonus-point score, instead it heralds the arrival of Peter Stringer. Conor Murray makes way as ROG and Strings bid to delve into the memory banks and dig out try number four.

Zebo almost gives Gilroy a chance to run in a consolation score, but the boy wonder knocks on.

An Ulster attack ends with Roger Wilson getting trod on by his own player after conceding a penalty. Here come Munster!

Keatley running some incisive lines from centre and the Reds spin it right where Varley and O’Mahony set a platform for ROG tot do what he does best; pile the pressure on with his right boot.

That looks to be that as Munster fail to turn the screw and the’ ravens’ plod a route back upfield. Donal Lenihan’s man-of-the-match award goes to Tommy O’Donnell. Perhaps the only stand-out performance from a fairly par performance from both sides.

TRY: Munster 24 – 10 Ulster (Birch ’80)

Ali Birch gets the visitors a try to put some respectability on the score-board after a superb reverse pass from Olding with no room to work with on the right wing.

Olding adds the extras from a difficult angle.

FULL TIME: Munster 24 – 10 Ulster

There you have it. Munster end the last unbeaten record in Europe with a comfortable home win, but Rob Penney will surely count the cost of a missed bonus point.

With a bonus going to neither, the result sees the 2011 champions move into third place, within 10 points of the leaders.

But with Scarlets losing on Stephens’ Day, Mark Anscombe’s side still leads the Pro12 by nine points.

Still not satisfied? Why not Join Pat McCarry as he liveblogs tonight’s other inter-pro fixture at the RDS. There, Connacht are vying to do a rare double over Leinster.

Inter-pro: 3 key battles to decide Munster v Ulster

Inter-pro: Penney looking forward to another ‘beautiful’ derby

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