Conway stunner decides Irish derby
PRO14 REPORT: Ireland wing Andrew Conway returned from World Cup duty in stunning style as his second-half scorcher edged Munster past Ulster (22-16) in a gripping Irish derby.
The two sides were well-matched at Thomond Park and Ulster led 16-15 midway through the second half, but Conway seared home to keep Munster top of Conference B heading into the European break.
* Did you miss any of the drama? To recap all the action, CLICK HERE!
An even opening saw Cooney get the first points of the match through the boot, before a spell of pressure on 15 minutes resulted in Christiaan Stander five metres out with ball in hand – no stopping the big man from there.
With international stars returning to both sides JJ Hanrahan converted for a 7-3 lead but Ulster showed they were up for the fight with another Cooney three-pointer before Munster took over for the rest of the half.
That control showed itself on the scoreboard as Hanrahan got a penalty and centre Rory Scannell grabbed a try for a 15-6 half-time lead.
Ulster was rocking at the start of the second half and the crowd sensed another home score might end the contest, but up popped hooker Rob Herring with his second of the season as he fought off defenders to reach the line.
Cooney converted and added another penalty for a 16-15 lead, but then missed the chance to extend the lead before Conway sped through the defence to make the visitors pay.
At 22-16 Ulster continued to fight to get the lead back but the Munster defence held firm, edging home despite a late penalty miss from Tyler Bleyendaal.
Is he on a tryscoring bonus this lad?!🤷♂️
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) November 9, 2019
Man of the Match – Rory Scannell
One try, 11 carries and 36 metres made, inside centre Scannell was crucial to everything good Munster did on the night.
As any good No.12 does Scannell stood out with a number of nice touches and telling plays, leading the defence and making six important tackles to hold Ulster at arm’s length.
Play of the Day
No doubt about this one, Conway’s second-half score was worthy of winning any interprovincial contest.
Attacking from their own half Bleyendaal slipped a gentle pass inside to the wing, who blazed a trail through the middle of the pitch before scrambling over as defenders clawed to stop him.
Tries: Stander, Scannell, Conway
Cons: Hanrahan, Bleyendaal
Pens: Cooney 3
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Liam Coombes, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Christiaan Stander, 7 Chris Cloete, 6 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 5 Billy Holland, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 James Cronin.
Replacements: 16 Jeremy Loughman, 17 Kevin O’Byrne, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Fineen Wycherley, 20 Jack O’Donoghue, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Arno Botha.
Ulster: 15 Matt Faddes, 14 Rob Lyttle, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Angus Curtis, 9 John Cooney, 8 Nick Timoney, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Sean Reidy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Rob Herring (captain), 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Adam McBurney, 17 Eric O’Sullivan, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Matthew Rea, 21 David Shanahan, 22 Bill Johnston, 23 Robert Baloucoune.
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Robert O’Sullivan (Ireland), Paul Haycock (Ireland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)