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Dublin: 7°C Thursday 22 October 2020
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Munster claim the spoils from epic 9-try encounter with Ulster

Just a shame that only 7,200 were in Thomond Park to see it.

Munster 32

Ulster 28

Declan Rooney reports from Thomond Park

MUNSTER WITHSTOOD A late Ulster surge to seal their second bonus point win of the season and victory in the season’s first inter-provincial clash at Thomond Park.

Two first-half tries from Craig Gilroy were cancelled out by Andrew Conway, Robin Copeland and Gerhard van den Heever scores before the break, but with CJ Stander very impressive, the home side finished the job with further scores from Denis Hurley and the excellent Simon Zebo.

Dan Tuohy’s try 11 minutes from time pulled Ulster to within one score of their hosts and earned two bonus points, but after a false finish to the game when Munster kicked the ball dead too quickly, they finally closed out the win.

Robin Copeland scores his sides second try Source: James Crombie/INPHO

There was plenty of bright patches in both side’s first-half performance, but it was the visitors that took lead at Thomond Park when Gilroy ran in his first try. Francis Saili lost the ball in contact deep in Ulster territory and Darren Cave sent Gilroy free on the right and his searing pace easily saw him cross in the right corner.

The Munster management would have been concerned with the holes that frequently appeared in their defensive line, especially in the first quarter where they were slow to reorganise, but their sharp finishing at the other end meant they led 19-18 at the interval.

In his first start since his return to Munster, Tomás O’Leary looked sharp and stood up well in defence. And it was the scrum-half that identified a gap in the Ulster line and sent Conway in for his side’s first try, which Ian Keatley converted after 17 minutes.

Simon Zebo scores their fifth try Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A strong carry from Cave forced Munster into the concession of a penalty four minutes later as Paddy Jackson easily kicked his side into an 8-7 lead. It was probably the easiest of the kicks on a night where flags beside each other blew in different directions and the posts danced in front of the kickers.

Ulster were making the most of each foray to the Munster half and despite a blatant forward pass earlier in the move, Gilroy was awarded his second try in the 27th minute as Munster ran out of defenders.

But again, Munster’s response was impressive. On the half-hour mark Simon Zebo bamboozled Lewis Stevenson with his handling en route to Copeland’s try, which Keatley converted for a 14-13 lead.

Four minutes later Munster bagged their third try when Van den Heever finished brilliantly in the right corner after O’Leary sent him through a small gap, but right before half-time Ulster struck back when Nick Williams got on the back of a rolling maul to touch down.

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Jack O'Donoghue tackled by Andrew Trimble Source: James Crombie/INPHO

After trailing by the slimmest of margins at the break Ulster started the second-half with a bright five minutes, but after facing some staunch defence from the home side they were happy to leave with a drop goal from Jackson, which made it 21-19.

The lead swung back in Munster’s favour when Keatley landed a penalty and just on the hour mark – with a penalty advantage to fall back on – Denis Hurley scored from lofty cross-kick from Keatley to seal the bonus point, while Zebo got in on the act 15 minutes from time.

Tuohy’s try pulled Ulster to within four points, but after a late lineout steal from Mark Chisholm it appeared as if Munster had wrapped up the win when Keatley kicked the ball dead.

But Ulster were handed another shot by referee Andreas Mitrea, however Munster defended stoutly to sealed the win – their fifth from six games in this season’s competition.

Scorers

Munster

Tries, A Conway, R Copeland, G van den Heever, D Hurley, S Zebo;

Cons: I Keatley (2)

Pen: I Keatley

Ulster

Tries, C Gilroy (2), N Williams, D Tuohy;

Con: P Jackson

Drop-goal: P Jackson.

Pen: P Jackson

Munster: Andrew Conway; Simon Zebo, Francis Saili, Denis Hurley (Rory Scannell 70), Gerhard van den Heever; Ian Keatley, Tomás O’Leary; James Cronin (John Ryan 39-ht temp & 67), Mike Sherry (Duncan Casey 56), BJ Botha; Dave Foley (Donnacha Ryan 51), Mark Chisholm; CJ Stander Capt., Jack O’Donoghue (Jordan Coghlan 70), Robin Copeland.

Ulster: Peter Nelson; Craig Gilroy (Sam Arnold 21-27 temp), Darren Cave, Stuart McCloskey, Andrew Trimble (S Arnold h-t); Paddy Jackson, Paul Marshall; (1-8): Andrew Warwick (Calum Black 51), Rob Herring (captain), Wiehahn Herbst (Rickie Lutton 67), Lewis Stevenson, Franco van der Merwe (Dan Tuohy 63), Roger Wilson, Sean Reidy (Chris Henry 53), Nick Williams;

Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR).

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About the author:

Declan Rooney

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