Ulster get revenge over Munster
PRO14 MATCH REPORT: Ulster claimed PRO14 bragging rights and moved back to second in Conference B with a bruising 19-12 victory over rivals Munster at the Kingspan Stadium.
Munster had prevailed with a record 64-7 win when the two last met but this was to be no repeat, Rob Herring scoring the only try of the first half.
The visitors powered back but Robert Baloucoune crossed after the break before David Shanahan wrapped up the win with just three minutes left on the clock.
Defeat keeps Munster second in Conference A after a tough encounter, with the festive feast of derby clashes only just beginning in the PRO14.
Baloucoune saw yellow for a dangerous tackle from the kick-off but the hosts held firm until JJ Hanrahan kicked a simple penalty from in front of the posts.
Ulster came back as both sides took stock of the conditions but were unable were to find the breakthrough, a busy Munster defence keeping them honest as the first half developed.
Finally Ulster did get their breakthrough and it came down the left hand side, a dominant drive from the pack giving Herring a chance to break off the side to power over for the game’s first score.
Billy Burns added the extra two points with five minutes until the break and that brought an end to the first-half scoring, with Ulster leading 7-3 in their bid to climb Conference B.
But that ambition was somewhat dented when their lead was reduced to one point, Hanrahan making no mistake with a penalty following a high tackle.
That prompted the hosts to bring Rory Best on to the field to great acclaim – and it wasn’t long before he played a part in Ulster’s second try.
The front row’s top offload saw James Hume make a break, with Shanahan offering vital support in the 22.
His pass then found Baloucoune who had the simple task of crashing over, with Burns’ conversion extending the lead to eight points.
With Ulster losing just once at the Kingspan since February, Munster needed to produce something special to snatch the points against a side that had won five from six in all competitions.
Bill Johnston’s penalty 15 minutes from time aided that cause to make it 14-9, with a grandstand finale in store at the Kingspan.
And it was Ulster who wrapped up the win four minutes from time, another superb offload from Best allowing Shanahan to crash over for the third and final try of the game.
Munster had the muted final say though, Johnston’s penalty giving them a potentially-vital losing bonus point.
Tries: Herring, Baloucoune, Shanahan
Cons: Burns 2
Pens: Hanrahan 2, Johnston 2
Yellow card: Robert Baloucoune (Ulster, 0)
Ulster: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Will Addison, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Robert Baloucoune, 10 Billy Burns, 9 John Cooney, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Sean Reidy, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Ian Nagle, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Rob Herring (captain), 1 Eric O’Sullivan.
Replacements: 16 Rory Best, 17 Kyle McCall, 18 Ross Kane, 19 Clive Ross, 20 Nick Timoney, 21 David Shanahan, 22 Johnny McPhillips, 23 James Hume.
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Sammy Arnold, 12 Jaco Taute (captain), 11 Alex Wootton, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Fineen Wycherley, 5 Darren O’Shea, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Kevin O’Byrne, 1 Jeremy Loughman.
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.
Referee: Sean Gallagher (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Nigel Correll (Ireland), Leo Colgan (Ireland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)
In other news:
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