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Six-try Munster destroy Ulster in bruising battle at Thomond

Munster defeated Ulster 38-10 at Thomond Park.

Tempers flare at Thomond Park.
Tempers flare at Thomond Park.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Munster 38

Ulster 10

Garry Doyle at Thomond Park

A FEISTY AFFAIR, one that included an old school scrap in the early stages and a red card for Will Addison just before half-time, ended with a bonus-point victory for Munster and a third defeat on the spin for Ulster.

Given the brevity of this Rainbow Cup tournament, their chances of reaching the final are already gone. As for Munster, with two wins from two chalked up on the board, a date on the deciding day is theirs to throw away.

They were good here, particularly Shane Daly, their young winger – although the gold stars were freely handed out. Gavin Coombes had a fine game, so too Dan Goggin, their centre returning from injury. Conor Murray, boosted by yesterday’s news that he was going on a third Lions tour, scored an opportunist try; Mike Haley added a superb score just before half-time. Rory Scannell also crossed for two tries, JJ Hanrahan and Andrew Conway for one apiece.

As for Ulster, this was a bad night. They were outfought, outclassed, outscored and by 10.08 as good as out of the tournament. The damage was done in the first half, when they coughed up three tries and lost out physically at the breakdown. And that’s before we mention their defending.

Funnily enough, they started well, playing with purpose and energy in the early stages, going three points up in as many minutes, Stuart McCloskey making some big carries, Mike Lowry slotting over his kick after referee Craig Evans had spotted a breakdown infringement.

They should have had another penalty shortly afterwards; Peter O’Mahony’s attempt to kick a loose ball ending with him connecting instead with Lowry. Although accidental, it still should have led to Lowry getting another shot at goal.

Instead all eyes were turning to the Munster 22-metre line on seven minutes, when Addison and Rory Scannell irked one another and before Evans could restore control, just about every player on the pitch was abandoning any pretence of social distancing.

It was fiery enough but when push came to shove – and both sets of players delivered plenty of that – no one did anything nasty enough to merit a card.

Still, it woke Munster up. They hadn’t played any rugby at all up to this point but suddenly they remembered how to, getting their first try of the night just three minutes later, Coombes making a 15-yard carry off the base of a scrum, Marcus Rea and David McCann feebly failing to stop him.

craig-evans-red-cards-will-addison Craig Evans shows a red card to Addison. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Hauled short just shy of the line, John Ryan made the follow-up attempt to get over before Munster scored off the subsequent phase, Murray noticing the overlap in midfield, supplying Rory Scannell who crossed. JJ Hanrahan converted; Munster were on their way.

The truth is Ulster were not getting too much joy out of Evans, the referee, at this stage of the game but the harsher truth is they were comprehensively outplayed for the next 25 minutes, highlighted by the fact that coach, Dan McFarland, made five changes at half-time.

By that stage they were 16 points – and a man – down, Addison dismissed just before half-time for his illegal tackle on Daly; the remainder of the Ulster players failing to impose their personalities on the half.

You couldn’t say that about Munster’s XV. Another carry from Coombes nearly led to a score on 18 minutes but when Lowry kicked the ball dead on 25 minutes, Munster weren’t nearly as charitable on their next attack.

Off a scrum on the Ulster 10-metre line, Hanrahan and Scannell got the backline moving, Goggin delivering a no-look pass to set Daly free. When hauled down by Ethan McIlroy, Daly managed to keep the ball alive, and the play moved back through Hanrahan’s hands and into Goggin’s. He was held short just shy of the line; Murray then sneaked across it.

Ulster were struggling, Jacob Stockdale preventing a third try when he won the foot race to get to Hanrahan’s grubber kick ahead of Daly; Coombes then being stopped after yet another break from Daly.

Next came Addison’s illegal tackle on Daly, Munster getting one final attempt to score before half-time, which they took, getting their maul into operation before Murray moved the play out to his backline, Damien De Allende profiting from Goggin’s decoy run to send Mike Haley clear for the try. Hanrahan converted, Munster had a 19-3 lead at the break.

mike-haley-scores-a-try Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Ulster’s immediate response, after half-time, was to play with a bit of pride. To have any chance of winning this, they needed to get the next score, which they did, Iain Henderson the one who got across from close range, after Jordi Murphy’s take from a Rob Herring throw led to the Ulster maul getting going.

Eventually after three of their half-time replacements – Herring, Nick Timoney, Callum Reid – got close, Henderson sneaked over to reduce the gap to 19-8, Lowry cutting it from 11 to nine with the subsequent conversion.

This then was their window of opportunity.

Having built a little momentum, they needed to retain the pace they had shown post half-time.

While that’s fine in theory, the considerable issue of Munster wanting to play the game on their terms became a factor. So did Lowry’s passing – his whipped delivery on 55 minutes ending up in Rory Scannell’s hands. The centre raced to the line for his second, Munster’s fourth try.

Soon there would be a fifth, Hanrahan getting this one, Ulster’s defence disappearing as the out-half glided his way to the line.

They played better thereafter – could have scored again, should have scored again. Instead the next try was Munster’s, Conway getting over after a great crossfield kick from Scannell.

Scorers

Munster

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Tries: R Scannell 2, Murray, Haley, Hanrahan, Conway

Conversions: Hanrahan (4/5) Healy (0/1)

Penalties: Hanrahan (0/1)

Ulster

Scorers

Tries Henderson

Conversion: Lowry (1/1)

Penalty: Lowry

MUNSTER: M Haley; A Conway, D Goggin (rep: D de Allende, ’72), R Scannell (rep: D de Allende, 39-ht, blood), S Daly; JJ Hanrahan (rep: B Healy, ’66), C Murray (rep: N McCarthy, ’66); D Kilcoyne (rep: J Loughman, ’55), N Scannell (rep: K O’Byrne, ’60), J Ryan (rep: R Salanoa, ’60); F Wycherley (rep: J Kleyn, ’55), T Beirne; P O’Mahony (yellow card ’75), C Cloete (rep: CJ Stander, ’55), G Coombes.

ULSTER: J Stockdale; R Lyttle, W Addison (J Hume, ‘ 59 red card replacement), S McCloskey, E McIlroy; M Lowry (rep: A Curtis, ’62), A Mathewson (rep: D Shanahan, h-t); A Warwick (rep: C Reid, h-t), J Andrew (rep: R Herring, h-t), T O’Toole (rep: M Moore, h-t); A O’Connor, I Henderson – captain (rep: S Carter, 66); J Murphy, M Rea, D McCann (rep: N Timoney, h-t).

Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)

About the author:

Garry Doyle

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