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Munster edge 14-man Bulls in Loftus arm-wrestle

MATCH REPORT: Defending champions Munster overtook the Bulls on the United Championship standings with a 27-22 win in a bruising encounter at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

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Outscoring their hosts by four tries to three, the visitors moved into third place in a very congested table and within striking distance of a top-two finish.

The Bulls’ first URC loss at Loftus against visitors from abroad ended a 21-match victory run.

The crucial moment came in the 54th minute – Bulls flyhalf Johan Goosen was yellow carded for a head-on-head collision with an opponent.

Having come back from trailing 10-17 at half-time, the Bulls held a 22-17 lead in what was an improved second-half performance.

However, they failed to score again and two tries – the match-winner coming from veteran Irish scrumhalf Conor Murray in the final 10 minutes – allowed Munster to secure a bonus-point win.

The Bulls simply made too many errors in a poor first half, often gifting the visitors both possession and territory with some silly errors and sloppy play.

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This was epitomised in the 10 points scored by Munster in the final two minutes of the first half – all coming from Bulls’ errors.

After the break the Bulls showed more intent and intensity, but still made too many costly errors.

* To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!

(The report continues below …)

It was a nervy start, with several Bulls passes going to no one and Munster turning the ball over as well.

The first real scoring opportunity came after 15 minutes – a penalty for a deliberate knock-on. Veteran Irish scrumhalf Conor Murray, aiming from inside his half, hit the upright.

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However, minutes later – after a shockingly badly misguided line-out by the Bulls – Munster set up some phase-play and left wing Shane Daly darted over. Jack Crowley added the conversion – 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.

The Bulls replied with their forwards using brute force for captain Elrigh Louw barging over. Johan Goosen added the conversion – 7-all after 26 minutes.

From the restart the Bulls won a penalty and Johan Goosen punted it 60 metres downfield for a line-out, which resulted in another penalty to the Bulls. The second penalty Goosen slotted for as 10-7 lead.

On the stroke of half-time Munster made the Bulls pay for another sloppy mistake. The turnover allowed the visitors to take it through the phases till double World Cup-winning Springbok RG Snyman barged his way over. Crowley added the conversion 14-10.

Soon afterwards, with time up, Crowley aimed at goal from 45 metres out – after another Bulls transgression – slotting it, to make it 17-10 for the visitors at half-time.

The second half started just as the first finished – the Bulls contributing to their demise with sloppy play.

However, a Munster error – illegally playing the scrumhalf – gifted the Bulls an attacking line-out, Another penalty and a few phases later Kurt-Lee Arendse came off his right wing to burst over on the left. Goosen was wide of the mark with the conversion – 15-17.

Minutes later, with more pressure applied by the Bulls, Munster conceded a penalty in front of their posts. From a tap-and-go hooker, Johan Grobbelaar went over. Goosen slotted the conversion as the Nulls hit the front – 22-17.

In the 54th minute, Goosen collided with replacement Craig Casey, resulting in a red card for the Bulls flyhalf for a head-on-head contact.

Soon afterwards, with the outnumbered Bulls defence exposed, a cross-field kick saw replacement John Hodnett score the visitors’ third try. Crowley hit the upright with the conversion attempt – 22-all.

It now became an arm-wrestle, with both teams making some nervous errors and replacements flooding the game.

With six minutes remaining, following a scrum penalty, Munster took the ball through enough phases to put Conor Murray over in the right corner. Crowley was wide with the conversion attempt – 27-22 for the visitors.

The Bulls now threw everything but the kitchen sink at the visitors,

However, Munster held on for a vital win.

The scorers

For the Bulls
Tries: E Louw, Arendse, Grobbelaar
Cons: Goosen 2
Pens: Goosen

For Munster
Tries: Daly, Snyman, Hodnett, Murray
Cons: Crowley 2
Pens: Crowley

Red card: Johan Goosen (Bulls, 54 – foul play, head-on-head contact)

Teams

Bulls: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Canan Moodie, 12 David Kriel, 11 Sebastien de Klerk, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Elrigh Louw (captain), 7 Reinhardt Ludwig, 6 Cameron Hanekom, 5 JF van Heerden, 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 Mpilo Gumede, 21 Izak Burger, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Devon Williams.

Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Antoine Frisch, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Shane Daly, 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jack O’Donoghue, 7 Alex Kendellen, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 Tadhg Beirne (captain), 4 RG Snyman, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Jeremy Loughman.
Replacements: 16 Eoghan Clarke, 17 Josh Wycherley, 18 Oli Jager, 19 Tom Ahern, 20 Gavin Coombes, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 John Hodnett.

Referee: Adam Jones (Wales)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa) and Dylen November (South Africa)
TMO: Craig Evans (Wales)

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