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Dublin: 17 °C Thursday 22 August, 2019
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Ulster 20-19 Munster

Hello, and welcome to tonight’s early-season RaboDirect PRO12 clash between Ulster and Munster.

Here are the teams:

Ulster: J Payne; A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, M Allen; P Jackson, P Marshall; T Court, N Brady, J Afoa, J Muller (c), L Stevenson, S Ferris, S Doyle, N Williams.

Replacements: R Herring, C Black, D Fitzpatrick, N McComb, M McComish, M Heaney, P Nelson, C Gilroy.

Munster: Denis Hurley; Doug Howlett (capt), Casey Laulala, James Downey, Luke O’Dea; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; Dave Kilcoyne, Damien Varley, BJ Botha; Donncha O’Callaghan, Billy Holland; Dave O’Callaghan, Sean Dougall, James Coughlan.

Replacements: Mike Sherry, Marcus Horan, Stephen Archer, Dave Foley, Tommy O’Donnell, Conor Murray, Ronan O’Gara, Keith Earls.

Patrick McCarry here and, like a Bond movie, with seconds to spare! Never set off for Ravenhill from Rathgar at 4pm.

Declan Kidney, Gert Smal and Les Kiss are in the stands right in front of me and they look more relaxed than me. June is a distant memory.

Stephen Ferris is earning his 100th cap for Ulster this evening. Here is a nice tribute made for him by Ulster and their media savvy backroom staff:

YouTube credit: UlsterRugbyTV

Kick-off: Ian Keatley gets us underway.

Andrew Trimble holds on for too long and is caught in possesion to gift Keatley a chance to make it 3-0, which he does. Ulster win a scrum on their left flank but opt for a re-set and are soon on the back foot. Another Keatley penalty makes it 6-0 after 10 minutes.

A Keatley drop goal, after sustained Munster pressure, makes it 9-0. The home crowd are getting restless. Great start from Rob Penney’s men.

Paddy Jackson keeps Ulster ticking after Tom Court ground a free-flowing move to a temporary halt. Damien Varley shows indiscipline at a ruck on his side’s own ’22 to concede a needless penalty. Paddy Jackson slots it over to reduce the arrears.

BJ Botha must have been back home in South Africa over the summer – he is sporting a tan of Donncha O’Callaghan proportions.

Some hijinks in a scrum on the halfway line but John Afoa emerges with the ball. Jared Payne makes a fantastic break, beating three Munster men in the process and feeds Andrew Trimble. The winger tees up Paul Marshall for what should be a simple try but the scrum-half spills the opportunity. Munster clear.

The home support are apoplectic here as Munster’s O’Dea bursts past Stevenson but is then held up, only to pass, clearly forward, to Howlett. The officials wave play on but Ulster eventually clear their lines.

James Downey and Casey Laulala show some menace up the left flank and Trimble is once again gobbled up as he fields a ball in his ’22. Ulster have a defensive line-out on their five metre line and secure possession before Jackson boots them 40 metres from the tryline. The game is settling down.

Darren Cave shows strength to bundle the charging Luke O’Dea off the ball. It breaks to Payne, who has started superbly, and he sprints clear down the right wing only to be held up 20 metres from the tryline by Ian Keatley. The home side coming right back into this and they have an attacking scrum out right.

O’Dea’s evening is over after a promising start. We say a ‘Happy 2012/13′ to Keith Earls, his replacement. Great Ulster shove in a re-set scrum and Jackson can make it a three point game.

Not the best of penalties from the young out-half as it drifts and strikes the outside of the left post. 27 minutes gone.

James Coughlan juggles then gathers the ball as Munster press the home side and cut out attacking space. Line-out to Ulster on the ’22, which they gather. Nick Williams spills it on the charge and Munster hoof clear.

Billy Holland has a brain-freeze and plays out-half only to see his kick go out on the full. Ulster have a good attacking platform to take into the final five minutes of the half.

The platform wields three points as Munster are penalised for offside and Jackson makes a better job of a 30-metre penalty in front of the posts. 9-6.

TRY! Keith Earls finishes the move, after featuring in it twice but that was all down to Casey Laulala as he delivers a great, flicked pass to Denis Hurley. The full-back found Earls on his inside shoulder and he touched down unopposed.

Keatley adds the extras to make it 16-6. O’Donnell on for Munster as Coughlan comes off.

Looks like Ulster will get some points back before the break as, by the looks of it, openside flanker Sean Dougall is penalised for not releasing. Jackson’skick is five metres in from the left flank and 30 metres again. He lands it.

HALF-TIME: Ulster 9-16 Munster

It is 61-12 five minutes into the second-half as Jackson added a penalty. O’Donnell was the guilty party. The Ulster backline is looking very dangerous. Conor Murray warming up for the visitors.

BTW, the WiFi in Ravenhill is woeful.

TRY! Allen does well to retain possession on the left and Trimble almost botches a two-man advantage out wide by cutting inside. He gets his pass away and Payne, wide right, does the rest. He shows great strength to dive over in the corner. Jackson’s conversion is narrowly wide. 17-16 Ulster.

Payne then needs to keep his defensive wits about him as he touches down behind his tryline with Earls close by. Hurley’s bounding run had led to the Munster attack. Murray and Sherry replace Williams and Varley. 53 minutes gone.

Craig Gilroy comes on for Cave. Ulster with a great chip through and an attacking line-out after Murray is forced to clean up. Penalty awarded and Sean Dougall gets a yellow card for deliberately bringing down the attacking maul.

Gilroy takes a pass from Ferris and bounces off a couple of tackles but is brought down just shy of the tryline. Ulster twice in great attacking positions but Munster somehow scramble the ball back on Murray clears.

A mess-up of a quick throw puts Munster in heaps of trouble moments later and the ball is booted away in frustration. It nearly lands in Declan Kidney’s lap. Cue a wry smile from the Irish head coach.

Attendance for tonight’s game is 10,397. Ulster on the Munster ’22 but some dogged defence on show. Penney’s men need an attacking outlet with 20 minutes left on the clock.

Ulster are called for spinning the scrum and Munster get relief. With Dougall still in the sin-bin they have weathered a massive storm, so far.

With Stefan Terblanche off the scene this season, the Ulster Number 15 jersey is up for grabs and Jared Payne has done his chances no harm at all with a marvellous display.

Keatley adds a penalty, much to the disgust of the home fans, to make it 19-17 to Munster.

Sherry intercepts an Ulster attack and is a hair’s breadth away from getting a yellow, moments after Dougall rejoined the fray, for an deliberate knock-down. Scrum Ulster. Just over 10 minutes to go.

Munster’s turn to be penalised as they lose control of their scrum. The away bench are not pleased but Jackson now settles himself and sizes up the posts. His penalty is on the money and Ulster lead 20-19.

O’Gara, playing in the full-back role for Munster, takes a high ball and kicks midway into the Ulster half. The home side secure the line-out ball but punt away and Munster have attacking possession.

Sloppy stuff from Munster as a 22 drop-out attempt gets butchered and Ulster are gifted an attacking scrum on ’22 with five minutes left on the clock.

Fantastic defence from Munster as they thunder into Ulster and force play beyond the halfway line. Could they graft an opening for an O’Gara drop goal attempt?

Great crash-ball from Downey and Munster are 35 metres away from the home posts. The ball gets spun wide left but a misplaced pass goes out of play and with it, perhaps, the game.

MINI BRAWL! We’ve got a sideline dust-up after Andrew Trimble runs Hurley out of play and grapples with him on the sidelines. 14 players pile in but no punches thrown. Lots of frayed and stretched collars after that. Correction on O’Gara, he is operating in the midfield.

Trimble is punished for his over-eagerness and Munster get a line-out deep in enemy territory.

O’Gara can’t get the space for a drop goal. Paul Marshall chases him down twice. Getting tense!

They can’t fashion another opportunity and Ulster smother the final attack to close it out. A great win.

FULL-TIME: Ulster 20-19 Munster

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