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Dublin: 5 °C Friday 13 December, 2019
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Conway scorches in to ensure Munster edge tight inter-pro against Ulster

The wing proved to be a game-breaker in a closely-fought contest.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Munster 22

Ulster 16

FOR 65 MINUTES on a cold Limerick night, Munster could feel the hot breath of Ulster down their neck as the northern province threatened their fine home record.

Fortunately for the 14,436 who turned out to see this tightly-contested inter-pro, Andrew Conway scorched his way to a scintillating game-winner.

A year on from their record defeat at this very venue, Ulster were never likely to roll over lightly and landed in Limerick ready for a pitched battle among forward packs. Munster were inconsistent, but earned enough parity to show off the inventive streak through their back-line to create first-half tries for CJ Stander and Rory Scannell.

munsters-and-ulsters-packs-contest-a-scrum Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

A chill in the air, but the rivalries quickly came to the boil. Following  Cooney’s penalty to give Ulster an early lead, the two sets of front rows showed a healthy appetite for a scrap.

First Jack McGrath appeared instigator, then Niall Scannell. Ulster’s scrum was in the ascendancy. But as if to typify the flow of the first half, Ulster couldn’t turn their pack efforts into territory and a poor Jacob Stockdale clearance hit the big target of Chris Farrell.

The initial bounce was taken by Conway and his grubber ahead put Matt Faddes in a tight spot he could not wriggle free from. The resulting line-out paved the way for a sharp Munster attack that ended when Stander rumbled under under the posts.

Cooney narrowed the gap, but even with JJ Hanrahan lost to injury after showing flashes of his superb passing skill, Munster had too much invention in their back-line for Ulster to withstand. Hanrahan was injured on a scything line-break when Rory Scannell had switched to first receiver.

The centre reverted to strike runner five minutes before half-time, finishing an excellent back-line move after slick passes from Tyler Bleyendaal and  Farrell to put the score at 15-6 by half-time.

billy-holland-attempts-to-block-a-kick-by-john-cooney Billy Holland pressures John Cooney. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The ought to have been a springboard for Munster to propel themselves to a bonus point success, but instead Ulster dug their claws in and dragged Munster into a tight, tense contest.

Rob Herring broke off the back of a 49th minute maul, and Cooney soon added a penalty to that conversion to give Ulster a 15-16 lead with a little over 20 minutes on the clock.

Conor Murray was on the field for Munster, but his presence didn’t immediately settle the hosts. Indeed, Cooney missed a long-range chance to extend the lead before the match-winning moment from Conway, scything through a tackle from lock Sam Carter before scorching his way to the posts before Stockdale could snag him.

Europe is calling for these sides now. Ulster will go to Bath warmed up for an abrasive contest. And, though Munster will pick through areas to sharpen up, they have built a five-point advantage at the top of Pro14 Conference B before next week’s visit to take on the Ospreys – who will be better than the side who lost at home to the Kings today.

Scorers

Munster

Tries: CJ Stander, R Scannell, A Conway

Conversions: JJ Hanrahan (1/1), T Bleyendaal (1/2)

Penalties: JJ Hanrahan (1/1) T Bleyendaal (0/1)

Ulster

Tries: R Herring

Conversions: J Cooney (1/1)

Penalties: J Cooney (3/4)

Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Liam Coombes; JJ Hanrahan (Tyler Bleyendaal ’29), Alby Mathewson (Conor Murray ’56); James Cronin (Jeremy Loughman ’53), Niall Scannell (Kevin O’Byrne ’70), John Ryan (Stephen Archer ’53); Jean Kleyn (Fineen Wycherley ’47), Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony, Chris Cloete (Jack O’Donoghue ’53), CJ Stander (Arno Botha ’65).

Ulster: Matt Faddes, Rob Lyttle, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Angus Curtis (Bill Johnston ’78), John Cooney (Dave Shanahan ’78): Jack McGrath (Eric O’Sullivan ’55), Rob Herring (Adam McBurney ’53), Marty Moore (Tom O’Toole ’53), Alan O’Connor (Kieran Treadwell ’55), Sam Carter, Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy, Nick Timoney.

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About the author:

Sean Farrell  / Reports from Thomond Park.

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