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Dublin: 5°C Tuesday 2 March 2021
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Hello, Happy New Year and welcome along to our liveblog of tonight’s Pro14 clash between the leaders of Conferences A and B, Ulster v Munster.

Kick-off is not until 17.15 (eir Sport 1), so you have time to get the dinner on before settling in for a double inter-pro night on the couch.

We’ll guide you all the way through the contest in Ravenhill and then Connacht’s visit to face Leinster at the RDS (19.35).

But for now, here are the teams named to run out in Belfast.

Ulster:

15. Jacob Stockdale
14. Matt Faddes
13. James Hume
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. Ethan McIlroy
10. Billy Burns
9. John Cooney

1. Eric O’Sullivan
2. Rob Herring
3. Marty Moore
4. Kieran Treadwell
5. Sam Carter (captain)
6. Matty Rea
7. David McCann
8. Nick Timoney

Replacements:

16. Adam McBurney
17. Callum Reid
18. Tom O’Toole
19. David O’Connor
20. Marcell Coetzee
21. Nathan Doak
22. Ian Madigan
23. Ben Moxham

Munster:

15. Shane Daly
14. Calvin Nash
13. Dan Goggin
12. Rory Scannell
11. Liam Coombes
10. Ben Healy
9. Craig Casey

1. Liam O’Connor
2. Niall Scannell
3. John Ryan
4. Fineen Wycherley
5. Billy Holland (captain)
6. Jack O’Donoghue
7. Chris Cloete
8. Jack O’Sullivan

Replacements:

16. Rhys Marshall
17. Dave Kilcoyne
18. Roman Salanoa
19. Thomas Ahern
20. Tommy O’Donnell
21. Nick McCarthy
22. Jack Crowley
23. Darren Sweetnam

Referee: Mike Adamson [SRU].

Here we go then, kick-off in Kingspan and it’s the hosts who get us under way against the under-strength Munster.

2 min: Jack O’Donoghue knocked on from the kick-off and so Ulster had a scrum platform to attack off early.

Nick Timoney makes an impressive big carry, not exactly what he’s known for, to get Ulster over the gainline, but they run out of road on the right wing as the 8 gets his second possession only to be bumped over the sideline.

6 mins: Ulster force a penalty on their next attack, it’s central and close-range but Burns kicks for the corner to let his pack push for 7.

The maul goes awry on the second surge for Ulster, Munster offer a stout defence and Ben Healy knocks clear.

A gorgeous try from Ulster. This time the line-out offers up a strike play as Ulster move the ball quickly left to right. Hume hits Jacob Stockdale on an utterly sublime line and he in turn delivers a seamless pass to invite Faddes into the corner.

Cooney can’t hit the touchline conversion, but an excellent start from the home side.

Penalty! Ulster 5 Munster 3 (Healy ’13)

Munster crank up the pressure in response and build up a good head of steam within 10 metres of the Ulster try-line.

The hosts are happy to concede a penalty, which Healy duly knocks over.

TRY Ulster 12 Munster 3 (McIlroy ’16)

Clinical execution from Ulster’s attack again as Billy Burns chips to the left wing this time, and the ball is collected by Ethan McIlroy at full tilt on his way to the corner.

The conversion is as crisp as the night air too.

21 mins: McIlroy making big plays on both sides of the ball.

Munster respond well again after conceding and set up a good attacking platform five metres out.

As Munster stretch across the 22, McIlroy shoots out of the line and grasps a hold of Shane Daly before he can get a pass or a break. Munster really need a maximum score from their next visit to stay in this game.

PENALTY: Ulster 15 Munster 3 (Cooney ’29)

35 mins:

Apologies for a few gaps in our match updates here, folks. Your humble liveblogger is experiencing some Wifi connectivity issues and is endeavouring to restrain himself from doing damage to hardware in his vicinity. We’ll be back in the serene surrounds of the office soon, right?

39 mins: Ulster firmly in control of this one entering half-time, but Munster have at least laid down a marker at the scrum as they force a relieving penalty.

Here comes the second half. Munster’s bright young things have a job on their hands to get back in the game.

Ben Healy gets the contest back underway, putting Ulster in possession in their 22.

The visitors get a chance to attack again as they field the clearance on halfway, but the set of phases comes to nought as the experienced man in the back-line, Rory Scannell, pumps the ball out on the full.

42 mins: Munster look to attack off turnover ball thanks to an excellent poach from O’Sullivan.

It’s short-lived again though as Rea forces his way over the ball and makes the steal for the hosts. Ulster make a better fist on the counter as Cooney gets away, but Healy makes a clean tackle and the scramble defence is good.

48 mins: Ulster still not quite turning the screw towards a bonus point. They’re fully in command, but the attacks just lack a clinical edge in the second half. Plenty of time to grab two more scores, of course.

51 mins: Another chance goes begging for the hosts. They inject pace into their one-out carries, but the ruck gets sloppy and Shane Daly is able to steal the ball and clear.

56 mins: Coetzee is on and making a difference for Ulster at the pointy end. The outgoing back row’s big carries lay the platform, Stuart McCloskey’s reverse pass to Billy Burns turns the key and Kieran Treadwell just falls short of the the threshold as he knocks on trying to plant the ball on the line.

SIN-BIN: Billy Holland (58 mins) pays the cost of persistent penalties as Munster defend their line.

Ulster pass up the kickable option and keep pushing for another try.

60 mins: The score remains Ulster 15 Munster 3.

Munster are doggedly defending here and force a penalty to work their way clear and further frustrate their hosts. If Ulster don’t put this one to bed soon, Munster will soon start to expect another shock comeback win.

64 mins: Healy takes on a pot-shot penalty. He succeeds in taking some time off the clock, but misses the target right.

67 mins: Ulster are celebrating, but it’s on a defensive set as they take a turn thwarting a stuttering attack in the 22.

Both sides have introduced their next layer of exciting half-backs, Nathan Doak, son of Neil, is on for Ulster while Jack Crowley is at the helm for Munster.

70 mins: Crowley is directing traffic now as Munster, back to 15 men, earn a penalty and head for the corner. A score here could really rattle Ulster.

71 mins: The maul defence stands firm. Ulster keep their try-line unbreached and celebrate the turnover and then a penalty on the resulting scrum.

73 mins: Ian Madigan is on and his first act to attempt a cross-field kick to McIlroy. The execution isn’t bad, but Nash does well enough to disrupt the young wing and force a knock on.

76 mins: Roman Salanoa makes a big burst for the line with white shirts being skittled along the way. Big Thomas Ahern is next on the carry and comes oh, so close to the Ulster line.

It’s ruled held up, but it must have been mighty close.

Munster keep piling on the pressure with the clock gone red.

Sin-bin: Callum Reid.

It should really be a penalty try at this stage with the scrum walking under the posts, but we play on and Munster must keep driving to earn a point from this contest.

TRY! Ulster 15 Munster 8 (Sweetnam ’83)

Flag

Munster rolled the dice, going away from their pack. It almost went awry as Tommy O’Donnell appeared to knock on the ball that fell to Sweetnam, but TMO Joy Neville ruled nothing clear or obvious to overturn.

Jack Crowley steps up and nails a tricky late conversion to bring Ulster within five at full-time.

FULL-TIME: Ulster 15 Munster 10

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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