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Dublin: 9 °C Saturday 23 March, 2019
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Good evening and welcome along to our live coverage of the first Guinness Pro14 inter-pro of the festive period, as Ulster host Munster under the Friday night lights at Kingspan Stadium.

Dan McFarland’s side have injected momentum into their season with crucial back-to-back European wins over Scarlets, and now their attention reverts back to Pro14 matters for the next couple of weeks.

The northern province have lost just one of their last six games in all competitions and with a fully stocked side out tonight, will fancy their chances of extending their strong form in Belfast. 

Munster, meanwhile, arrive at Kingspan hoping to bounce back from last week’s defeat in Castres and make it five straight Pro14 wins to close the gap on Glasgow Warriors at the top of Conference A.

Kick off is at 7.35pm and we’ll have all the build-up here between now and then. 

The teams have arrived at a rather wet and windy Kingspan Stadium.

A view of a Munster jersey and match programme ahead of the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Stuart McCloskey arrives

Johann van Graan arrives

TEAM NEWS: Coming off the back of the December double-header, this Christmas and New Year period is always a tricky time for head coaches as they look to shuffle their resources while remaining competitive.

Dan McFarland has declared his intentions, however, by naming a near full-strength team for tonight’s round 11 clash, with Jacob Stockdale the only notable absentee from Ulster’s matchday 23.

Will Addison, Stu McCloskey, John Cooney, Marty Moore and Jordi Murphy all start, while Rory Best is held in reserve.

Ian Nagle, who recently joined on loan from Leinster, makes his first start for the northern province.

Ulster:

15. Louis Ludik
14. Henry Speight
13. Will Addison
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. Robert Baloucoune
10. Billy Burns
9. John Cooney

1. Eric O’Sullivan
2. Rob Herring (captain)
3. Marty Moore
4. Ian Nagle
5. Kieran Treadwell
6. Sean Reidy
7. Jordi Murphy
8. Marcell Coetzee

Replacements:

16. Rory Best
17. Kyle McCall
18. Ross Kane
19. Clive Ross
20. Nick Timoney
21. Dave Shanahan
22. Johnny McPhillips
23. James Hume.

TEAM NEWS: Johann van Graan, meanwhile, has rung the changes for his side’s trip north, with most of Munster’s frontline internationals given the week off ahead of the showdown with Leinster after Christmas.

It’s a much-changed Munster side tonight but there is no shortage of quality and experience, with Ireland internationals Darren Sweetnam and Sammy Arnold named in the starting XV.

Jaco Taute captains the side, with JJ Hanrahan and Alby Mathewson forming the half-back pairing.

In the pack, there are big opportunities for Jeremy Loughman, Conor Oliver and Fineen Wycherley. 

Munster:

15. Mike Haley
14. Darren Sweetnam
13. Sammy Arnold
12. Jaco Taute (Captain)
11. Alex Wootton
10. JJ Hanrahan
9. Alby Mathewson

1. Jeremy Loughman
2. Kevin O’Byrne
3. Stephen Archer
4. Jean Kleyn
5. Darren O’Shea
6. Fineen Wycherley
7. Conor Oliver
8. Arno Botha

Replacements:

16. Mike Sherry
17. Dave Kilcoyne
18. Ciaran Parker
19. Gavin Coombes
20. Tommy O’Donnell
21. Neil Cronin
22. Bill Johnston
23. Shane Daly.

Ulster have hit a rich vein of form in recent weeks and, as previously mentioned, have won five of their last six matches and will be out to avenge their record 64-7 defeat to Munster in Limerick earlier this season.

The northern province lie third in Conference B, 15 points behind pacesetters Leinster, but are only behind second-placed Scarlets — who they beat twice in Europe this month — on points difference.

Furthermore, Ulster have lost only once in Belfast since February, when they were beaten 22-15 by Connacht in round six, but have won just one of their last seven inter-pro derbies. 

Which way do you see this one going?


Poll Results:

Munster  (192)
Ulster (132)
Draw  (10)



Despite the wet conditions, a sell-out crowd is expected at Kingspan Stadium tonight.

Billy Burns during the warm up Billy Burns during the warm-up. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Munster have lost just one of their last ten fixtures against Ulster — a sequence which
also includes two draws.

ohann van Graan and Jerry Flannery before the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The rain has relented just in time for kick off, and here come the teams. Munster, led by Jaco Taute, are first out before Rob Herring leads the hosts out. Sean Gallagher is tonight’s referee, by the way. 

1Mins

1 mins — Robert Baloucoune is in serious trouble here. The young winger cleans Darren Sweetnam out in the air as he gathered Burns’ kick off and the referee is going upstairs to have a look at this. It could very easily be a red…

1Mins

1 mins — Yellow card! Baloucoune is very, very fortunate to escape with a yellow card there. Just 11 seconds on the clock and Ulster are temporarily down to 14. 

2Mins

2 mins – Big defensive set from Ulster as Jordi Murphy forces the turnover, and then tempers flare between both sets of players after O’Byrne takes out Cooney. Penalty to the hosts. It’s bubbling nicely in Belfast. 

6Mins

6 mins – Ulster looking to stretch Munster in the outside channels as Addison glides over the turf and offloads for Ludik — but the visitors are up hard and fast and they shut the door. 

7Mins

7 mins – Ulster have managed this sin-bin period brilliantly, as one-off runners has seen them go through the phases and retain possession. A good start from the hosts despite that reckless tackle by Baloucoune. 

10Mins

10 mins – First opportunity for Munster to enjoy some territory after winning a scrum penalty, and then Addison is pinged for being offside and JJ Hanrahan will have the chance to open the scoring. 

11Mins

11 mins — Penalty! Ulster 0-3 Munster (Hanrahan)

JJ Hanrahan makes no mistake from the tee and the visitors lead. Baloucoune is back on, by the way. 

14Mins

14 mins – It’s all a bit predictable from Ulster at the moment, and Munster’s aggressive linespeed is ensuring the visitors are winning all of the big midfield collisions. Hanrahan launches a perfectly-weighted kick into touch on this near side. 

19Mins

Here’s the Robert Baloucoune tackle from the kick off.

20Mins

20 mins – Munster steal possession back and the visitors will be happy with how they’ve started here. It has been real arm-wrestle so far with both sides bringing huge physicality in the contact areas and around the fringes.

 

Ulster, meanwhile, are pinged for not rolling away — Burns the guilty party on this occasion — before Munster’s latest attacking move breaks down due to a Hanrahan handling error.

22Mins

22 mins – The heavy Belfast rain has made it a very greasy surface, so handling mistakes are going to be par for the course tonight, but Henry Speight does well to safely gather a Hanrahan steepler.

The Australian — who plays his last home game for Ulster tonight — then turns defence into attack with a rampaging run out of his 22, but his kick is blocked down and the hosts will have the lineout on the far side. 

24Mins

24 mins — John Cooney has trudged off for a HIA and is replaced by Dave Shanahan. 

25Mins

25 mins – TV replays show Cooney getting his head on the wrong side of Jean Kleyn and he was knocked backwards by the Munster second row. Losing the scrum-half would be a big blow for Ulster.

26Mins

26 mins – Another stoppage in play as Darren O’Shea receives treatment, and from the next phase of play, the big second row forces a big turnover inside Munster’s 22. The visitors really mean business tonight.

29Mins

29 mins – Munster are flying into the tackles and really suffocating Ulster, with the hosts unable to find any space or hole in the red wall. Shanahan then kicks it out on the full, handing possession back to the southern province. 

30 mins – Despite the low score, it has been a compelling inter-pro contest so far. 

31Mins

31 mins — Superb break from Will Addison, as he slaloms through after Ulster look to strike from deep, but Munster are able to scramble back and shut the door as Oliver makes a try-saving tackle on Shanahan. The hosts win a penalty and they’re going for the corner.

Flag 33Mins

32 mins — TRY! Ulster 7-3 Munster (Herring)

And they’re over! From the lineout, Nagle takes Herring’s throw and they have huge momentum in the maul for the hooker to crash over from close range. Burns adds the extras from the left. 

35Mins

35 mins — A pivotal score just before the break for McFarland’s side and Kingspan Stadium comes alive. There was no stopping Herring there, but that all came from Addison’s blistering break. 

38Mins

38 mins – Frustration for Munster as Kleyn’s knock on in contact sees a patient multi-phase passage break down in opposition territory. 

Flag

Half-time! Ulster 7-3 Munster

And that’s it for a fascinating 40 minutes of inter-pro rugby. Ulster take a slender advantage into the break after Rob Herring’s try just before the interval, but the visitors have brought huge physicality and intent to the occasion and it has been a real arm-wrestle so far.

41Mins

What did you make of that first half? 

41Mins

KICK OFF! We’re back underway in Belfast. 

42Mins

42 mins – Bright start to this second period from Munster. Fineen Wycherley wins lineout ball for the visitors and then Ulster infringe at the set-piece, allowing Hanrahan to bring play up to the home side’s 22. 

43Mins

43 mins – Strong defensive set from Ulster as they get through huge work at the start of this second period, before forcing the mistake and Herring breaks upfield to relieve the pressure. 

47Mins

47 mins – Munster have shown more ambition in attack in the opening exchanges of this half, pushing and probing in the Ulster 22, but they’ve been guilty of making too many poor decisions and handling errors. A misplaced Hanrahan pass leads to more frustration. 

51Mins

51 mins — Penalty! Ulster 7-6 Munster (Hanrahan)

 

We’re back to a one-point game as Hanrahan’s second penalty of the evening gives Munster some reward for their territory. 

53Mins

53 mins – Ulster make a double change. Rory Best and Johnny McPhillips are on for Herring and Ludik. 

55Mins

55 mins – Indiscipline from Munster this time allows Ulster kick for the corner. The visitors, meanwhile, have made changes of their own, with Tommy O’Donnell and Neil Cronin on for Oliver and Mathewson. 

55Mins

55 mins — Plenty of errors from both sides now. Ulster move within striking distance but Marty Moore knocks on, and that’s his last act as the prop is replaced by Ross Kane.

Dave Kilcoyne is on for Loughman in the Munster front row. 

59Mins

59 mins – Munster look to have stretched Ulster on the left but the hosts stand firm again and there’s a huge roar when Kyle McCall comes up trumps with a crucial turnover. 

59Mins

59 mins – Sean Reidy makes way for Nick Timoney. Bill Johnston is on for Munster, too. This one is on a knife-edge as we enter the final 20 minutes.

Flag 61Mins

61 mins — TRY! Ulster 14-6 Munster (Baloucoune)

The roof comes off Ravenhill as Ulster cut through the Munster defence for young Baloucoune to dot down for a huge seven-pointer. A brilliant offload from Rory Best in midfield set the wheels in motion and then Shanahan showed great footwork and pace to streak around the outside and through the gap, before releasing the winger. 

63Mins

63 mins – Munster looking for an instant reply as Shane Daly comes on. The visitors have an advantage for a high tackle by McCloskey and Johnston is going for the posts. 

65Mins

64 mins — Penalty! Ulster 14-9 Munster (Johnston)

Good response from Munster as they cut the deficit to five points through the boot of Johnston, who drilled it low between the posts. 

66Mins

66 mins – More changes from van Graan. Kleyn is replaced by Gavin Coombes and Ciaran Parker is on too. Fascinating finale in store in Belfast. 

70Mins

70 mins – Into the final 10 minutes at Kingspan Stadium. All a bit scrappy at the moment but this game is still very much in the balance. Ulster lead by five as it stands.

73Mins

73 mins – Munster not happy with the referee’s decision as Botha is penalised for coming through on Shanahan when the ball appeared to be out. Ulster kick for the corner and are just taking the sting out of the contest.

74Mins

74 mins – Kyle McCall has been forced off for a HIA so Eric O’Sullivan is back on. Best finds Murphy at the lineout and the rolling maul is rumbling on again. 

74Mins

74 mins – Munster penalised for side entry but Ulster play on and have front foot ball. Coetzee brings them within striking distance…

75Mins

75 mins – But there’s no way through, and we’re going back for that penalty on the far side. Huge defensive effort from Munster but time is running out for them. 

76Mins

76 mins – Ulster kick for the corner and Coetzee has the ball at the back of a maul. 

Flag 77Mins

77 mins — TRY! Ulster 19-9 Munster (Shanahan)

And that’s game, set and match. The maul powers forward, Best peels around the back and a silky offload releases Shanahan for the corner. Burns is unable to add the extras but Ulster have a 10-point lead with two minutes to go. 

79Mins

78 mins – Brilliant again from Best and the Ireland captain has made two important contributions since his introduction to settle the game in his side’s favour. Ulster now chasing a bonus point.

79Mins

79 mins – Munster looking to salvage a losing bonus point out of their trip north as the clock strikes red. 

80Mins

80 mins – And it looks like the visitors are going to get the chance to leave with a losing bonus point, as we’re brought back for a breakdown penalty. Johnston calls for the tee.

80Mins

80 mins – As Johnston lines this kick up from the left side, Marcell Coetzee has been named man of the match for a trojan shift. 

Flag 80Mins

80 mins — Penalty! Ulster 19-12 Munster (Johnston)

And the young out-half holds his nerve to send his second penalty between the posts. Munster lose but head back south with a point for their efforts.

Flag

Full-time! Ulster 19-12 Munster 

So it’s Ulster who earn the inter-pro bragging rights but Bill Johnston’s late penalty salvages a losing bonus point for the visitors, who fronted up well and brought huge physicality to the contest.

The hosts were full value for their win as second-half tries from Robert Baloucoune and Dave Shanahan settled the game in the northern province’s favour. 

80Mins

Thanks for joining us this evening, we’ll have a full report and reaction from Belfast on The42 shortly. Until tomorrow’s clash between Leinster and Connacht at the RDS, goodbye!

Dave Shanahan scores a try Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Murray Kinsella, Gavan Casey and Andy Dunne preview another big weekend of rugby action and dissect the week’s main talking points.


Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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