Dan Sheridan/INPHO

As it happened: Ulster v Munster, Guinness Pro12

We went minute-by-minute for the first of this weekend’s inter-pros.

Happy Friday night lights one and all.

It’s another official ‘Big Weekend’ in the Guinness Pro12 and that means inter-provincial action for us to drool over.

The first of the two inter-island clashes is in Belfast tonight, with Les Kiss’ out-of-sorts Ulster hosting a Munster squad still understandably shook following the untimely death of Anthony Foley.

Kick off is not until 19.05, so here’s a run-down of how the sides have lined up.

Ulster Rugby: Charles Piutau; Tommy Bowe, Luke Marshall, Darren Cave, Craig Gilroy; Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar; Callum Black, Rob Herring (capt), Wiehahn Herbst; Dan Tuohy, Franco van der Merwe; Robbie Diack, Sean Reidy, Roger Wilson.

Replacements: John Andrew, Kyle McCall, Andrew Warwick, Clive Ross, Conor Joyce, Paul Marshall, Brett Herron, Jacob Stockdale

Munster Rugby: Andrew Conway; Darren Sweetnam, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Ronan O’Mahony; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, James Ryan; Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony (capt), Tommy O’Donnell, Jack O’Donoghue.

Replacements: Vincent O’Brien, Brian Scott, Stephen Archer, Darren O’Shea, Robin Copeland, Abriel Griesel, Alex Wootton, Dan Goggin.

Alright then, the teams are out and we’re ready to roll at Raven… Kingspan Stadium. Which way will this go?

Early period of pressure from Ulster, crashing into the opposition 22. But they send up a bomb, Munster deal and Keatley clears.

Conway does well under the high ball again. Ulster not looking to extend phases of attack early on.

Ulster kick for the third time in three, possessions, but this time Bowe manages to regather and the attack continues.

TRY! Ulster 7 Munster 0 (Piutau ’5)

Jackson sent another kick into the night air and Craig Gilroy beat Darren Sweetnam to bat the ball back into the path of his fullback.

Jackson nailed the conversion to make a maximum score.

That woke Munster up. Ulster are poor off the restart and the visitors very nearly capitalise on the left wing, but Bowe does well to deal with what might have turned into an overlap if he committed too early.

Munster kept the pressure on after being rebuffed, but are forced backwards first when Conway was set to pounce on the ball and the ball came loose again when Bowe rushed up out of the line.

Darren Cave l0oks the worse for wear after that period of defence. Robert Lyttle comes on in his place.

Having been unable to find a way around Ulster, Ian Keatley attempts to go over the D with a drop-goal, but his strike drifts right and wide of the posts.

Touch judge has called a TMO check for Nigel Owens to look at: It’s for a high hit from Piutau on O’Mahony.

To us, it looks like O’Mahony slips just as Piutau leans in to make the tackle.

“You are unlucky,” Owens explains to Piutau. Just a penalty.

Keatley takes aim from 40m with the resulting penalty, but he makes a dog’s dinner out of the strike and it skews across the 22.

Still, the ball’s in the right part of the field from Munster’s point of view.

Another little glimpse of the magic Charles Piutau is capable of. He steps Sweetnam with a glorious swivel of the hips and leaves him standing before dropping an offload back to Gilroy. Unfortunately, the Ireland wing  can’t quite get his hands on it.

A note on how Ulster are lining up now (they’ve been in defensive shape for most of the time since Cave’s injury). Craig Gilroy has moved to fullback, Piutau to 13 and Luke Marshall to 12 to accommodate Lyttle coming in on the left.

So far, this has been a solid outing from Ulster with very little reward. They’re pounding the Ulster D line in the 22 again, but… ANOTHER error comes as the pill slips out and onto the ground as they look to form a maul from 5 metres.

Another Ulster change, Clive Ross comes in for Roger Wilson just in time for a line-out on halfway.

Look at the big man go!

John Ryan latches on to a very loose pop pass in midfield and goes storming for 10-12 metres before Jackson catches up with him and drags him down.

Ulster mighty fortunate it wasn’t someone a bit lighter taking that spill.

Ulster concede a penalty from the ruck that followed and Munster go for the corner… but it’s stolen by Ulster on their own 5m and Pienaar box kicks back up beyond the 22.

Frustrating game for both sides at the minute.

Piutau launches the ball towards Munster’s 22 and the chase is good enough to force Sweetnam to blast the ball out of play on the 22m line.

Munster infringe at the line-out and it’s Ulster’s turn to go to the corner.

TRY! Ulster 14 Munster 0 (Lyttle ’34)

There’s not a lot of getting away from it, that’s a howler of a try to concede. The ball spews out of a ruck after a Munster boot makes contact.

Lyttle turns, gathers and runs at a gap between Ian Keatley and Tommy O’Donnell. The pair end up getting more of eachother than Lyttle and the young wing scampers under the posts.

TRY! Ulster 14 Munster 5 (Scannell ’40)

At last, some reward for Munster’s endeavours. Nice quick hands force an overlap on the right and Sweetnam completes the move by putting his centre over in the corner.

Keatley’s touchline conversion effort just skims across the face of the posts.

HALF-TIME: Ulster 14 Munster 5

Here’s some of the stand-out pics sent to us from Kingspan Stadium

First, Craig Gilroy winning the aerial battle to open a gap for Piutau.

Craig Gilroy wins the high ball against Andrew Conway and Darren Sweetnam Presseye / Darren Kidd/INPHO Presseye / Darren Kidd/INPHO / Darren Kidd/INPHO

The try right on the half-time whistle from Scannell was a lifeline for Munster.

Rory Scannell scores a try

But they will be ruing the missed tackles that allowed replacement wing Rob Lyttle to sneak through and dive under the posts.

Rob Little dives over for a try

Things just aren’t going right for Keatley yet, but he’s getting close. The Dubliner kicks an early 35m angled penalty and it pings back off the post into open play.

It’s showtime!

Tommy Bowe tries to deftly chip into the path of Lyttle with only 10 metres to work with. Only slightly overcooked.

Having been left out of Joe Schmidt’s squad this week, Bowe’s off the ball work was exemplary in the first half, and now he’s looking to impress in attack.

Jaco Taute has been brilliant again in Munster’s midfield, stepping up out of the line and smashing second rows.

Another bit of dust from Piutau’s magicbox: a sumptuous 15 metre skip pass off his left hand.

Ulster keeping phases ticking up now and stretching Munster.

Munster do brilliantly to thwart Ulster when they looked to have finally made the overlap. Sweetnam rushes up to stop Reidy making the fatal pass. Taute runs clear and Sweetnam is there again to take the offload after Pienaar hauls the centre down.

Fortunately for the hosts, Luke Marshall is tracking all the way and takes Sweetnam in to touch.

What did you miss in the last few minutes? A bit of a tactical kicking battle that ended with Rob Lyttle driving the ball back up to halfway.

Ulster sense the finish line now. Reidy and Marshall hound down Keatley as he looks to gather a grubber near the touchline, Marshall’s muscle eventually wins out and the line-out goes to Ulster.

Oh wow, that’s mighty unfortunate for Munster.

Ulster let the pill drop behind them in open field and Scannell hacks it down field, but his hack is a little too hefty and the ball goes out on the full. Back for a scrum we go.

The rain’s really coming down in Ravenhill, but Ulster are still trying to unleash that star-studded back-line. It results, predictably, in another spill. Bowe and Jackson have to chase back to quell the danger.

TRY! Ulster 14 Munster 12 (Taute ’63)

That feels like a huge moment in this game. Munster pound their way to the Ulster 5m line and Taute makes a big carry at the line before twisting, as he’s allowed to do, onto the try-line.

Rory Scannell nails the conversion and suddenly this is a one-score game.

Sometimes we watch Charles Piutau in the Pro12 and get the feeling that the whole thing just isn’t hard enough to demand his full attention.

When the game’s tight, like now, he’s brilliant.

Jackson sent a Garryowen up into the rain and Piutau cements a hit on Sweetnam after he had safely landed. Forced a penalty too.

Whoa. A firework blast went off just as Jackson approached the ball and he pulled his penalty the nearside of the posts.

A let off for Munster.

Munster have held firm and are back in scoring territory. Just on the Ulster 22.

DROP-GOAL! Ulster 14 Munster 15 (Scannell ’75)

Some big carries from Jack O’Donoghue and Dave Kilcoyne in this set of phases, Peter O’Mahony keeping the breakdown ticking… then it goes back to the centre who blasts over with his left.


This has turned in to a Halloween horror show for Ulster. 14 – 0 up and comfortable in the first half, the hosts have lacked direction in this second period.

Can they pull out a late victory from the flames?

To Ulster’s credit, they do want to continue playing. Bowe makes a break down the left and unloads to Gilroy. He wisely decides not to offload again, takes the contact and Ulster attack from the ruck.

They line up a droppy for Jackson. It’s high, handsome, but only just wide of the mark.

Oh no, is that game over? Ulster up the tempo again and fire a pass to Bowe on the right, but he can’t hold on and we’ll scrum out the next 60 seconds.

FULL-TIME! Ulster 14 Munster 15

Another great win for Munster to pull out of the bag, but the other side of the coin is another seriously poor outing from Ulster.

From Connacht to Bordeaux, through a last-gasp home win over Exeter, Les Kiss will hope to set a lot of things right in the November break.

Munster cult hero ‘Dutchy’ Holland pushing the Hurricanes to new heights

‘We all have to try and pick up the slack together and try and fill the void that Axel has left’

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.