Ulster outplay Munster to book URC semifinal spot
URC REPORT: Ulster produced a powerful performance to thump Munster 36-17 in their United Rugby Championship quarterfinal in Belfast on Friday.
The home side outscored their opponents by five tries to three with fullback Stewart Moore getting a brace in the first half.
Ulster’s accuracy and skills gave them the result as 100-cap man John Cooney, Nick Timoney and James Hume also touched down in an interprovincial clash, which Ulster led 19-7 at half-time.
Cooney kicked three conversions and a penalty as the hosts avenged losing to Munster in Belfast during the regular season.
Ulster will now face either the Stormers or Edinburgh in the semifinals, while Munster’s season is over after another quarterfinal exit, with Johann van Graan’s tenure coming to a disappointing end.
Nine minutes in, Cooney got on the end of a pass from Hume to score and convert his own effort.
Munster struck back on 18 minutes after the visitors launched a multi-phase attack which ended up with Gavin Coombes held short, before Jean Kleyn collected the ball off his boot to score. Joey Carbery converted and the scores were level.
Ulster then scored a superb try off a line-out when Robert Baloucoune – who had previously landed a try-saving tackle on Carbery – was put through and Ethan McIlroy then offloaded for Moore to touch down after 23 minutes. Cooney again converted.
Moore scored his second after 32 minutes following a strong Iain Henderson carry which prompted Ulster to again put pace and width on the ball. Hume’s long pass gave Moore his chance and he made the corner with the TMO awarding the effort. Cooney missed the extras.
Two minutes into the second half Ulster had their fourth try, Hume bursting through and drawing the cover before hitting Nick Timoney, whose pace took him clear. Cooney’s conversion made it 26-7.
Coombes then had a charge-down score ruled out by the TMO, but Munster did get on the scoreboard in the 51st minute through a spectacular finish in the corner from Keith Earls, though Carbery failed to convert.
A Henderson turnover gave Cooney a penalty shot which he slotted after 56 minutes. Four minutes later, Hume made his way over the line, with substitute Nathan Doak converting.
Earls ran in for a second with 11 minutes remaining, but the conversion was missed and the game had already got away from Munster.
Player of the match
Ulster centre James Hume had an outstanding game in terms of putting others into space.
He created Cooney’s try and was involved in setting up both of Moore’s.
Hume also provided an assist for Nick Timoney before claiming his own touchdown.
Play of the match
Ulster’s second try was a stunning attack off a line-out take, with the home side giving width and pace to the ball.
Baloucoune entered the line on an angle as the extra man before McIlroy fixed the defence and threw an offload inside to Moore, who took the ball at pace and surged over.
Tries: Cooney, Moore 2, Timoney, Hume
Cons: Cooney 3, Doak
Tries: Kleyn, Earls 2
Ulster: 15 Stewart Moore, 14 Rob Baloucoune, 13 James Hume, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Ethan McIlroy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 John Cooney, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Nick Timoney, 6 Marcus Rea, 5 Iain Henderson (captain), 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Tom O’Toole, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Andrew Warwick.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Eric O’Sullivan, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Matty Rea, 21 Nathan Doak, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Ben Moxham.
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 Alex Kendellen, 6 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 5 Fineen Wycherley, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Josh Wycherley.
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 John Ryan, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Thomas Ahern, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Ben Healy, 23 Chris Cloete.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Hollie Davidson (Scotland), Ben Blain (Scotland)
TMO: Marius van der Westhuisen (South Africa)