Mark Anscombe had little trouble motivating his men for the visit of Munster, particularly given the weak performance last weekend against Leinster. Back at Ravenhill, they were a different proposition.
Meanwhile, Munster were looking for their 10th win in a row as Rob Penney’s methods continue to bring strong results. Last weekend’s narky victory over Connacht was just a taste of what was to follow in Belfast.
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Ulster 29-19 Munster [Full time]
18.52 – Good evening, and welcome along to our liveblog of the inter-provincial clash between Ulster and Munster at Ravenhill. Mark Anscombe’s side were willing to put their hands up after the defeat to Leinster last weekend and admit that their performance simply wasn’t good enough.
Munster arrive in Belfast on the back of a rich run of results, if not consistently excellent form. An away win would be quite the achievement, especially with such a strong Ulster side out, but winning is exactly what Rob Penney’s men have been doing recently.
How do you see this one going?
18.56 – Here are the teams for this evening’s clash:
Ulster: Jared Payne; Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Luke Marshall, Craig Gilroy; Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar; Tom Court, Rob Herring, John Afoa; Iain Henderson, Dan Tuohy; Robbie Diack (Captain), Chris Henry, Roger Wilson.
Replacements: Niall Annett, Callum Black, Declan Fitzpatrick, Lewis Stevenson, Nick Williams, Sean Doyle, Paul Marshall, Mike Allen.
Munster: Felix Jones; Andrew Conway, Casey Laulala, Ivan Dineen, Ronan O’Mahony; Ian Keatley, Cathal Sheridan; Dave Kilcoyne, Damien Varley, Stephen Archer; Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell; Peter O’Mahony (Captain), Tommy O’Donnell, James Coughlan.
Replacements: Duncan Casey, John Ryan, BJ Botha, Dave Foley, CJ Stander, Duncan Williams, Johnny Holland, Johne Murphy.
19.00 – The first comment of the evening comes from a supporter of the away side, Paul Carey:
Good luck Munster!
19.04 – Not too long until kick-off in what should be a superb Pro12 match. Our man Sean Farrell picked out the three key positional battles in this clash earlier on, and you can have a read of it here.
No surprises that Chris Henry v Tommy O’Donnell is included in there; both opensides will feel they have the ability to start for Ireland in the Six Nations. Where do you see this game being won and lost?
19.05 – And we’ve had a swift response to Paul’s comment earlier from Ulster fan Matt F. Clear and concise!
19.08 – We’re all set for kick-off in this one, with Alain Rolland refereeing. Paddy Jackson to get us underway…
19.11 – 2 minutes – Great atmosphere at Ravenhill, which is beginning to take real shape. Ian Keatley chips in behind the Ulster defence with his first real attack, but Ulster are well positioned to sweep that one up. A bit of ping-pong ensues with the kicking, before a loose one from Andrew Conway gives Ulster good possession in the Munster half.
Penalty to Ulster as a defender comes in from the side of a ruck and there’s a few handbags out early on!
19.12 – 3 minutes – It was the two captains who got to grips there, Peter O’Mahony and Robbie Diack. Anyway, Rolland breaks it up and Pienaar lines up the penalty from around 25 metres out, just to the left…
19.12 – PENALTY! Ulster 3-0 Munster (Pienaar ’4)
19.14 – 4 minutes – Oooh! Ulster nearly got the length of the field to score. Trimble won a high kick and then Jared Payne put in a superb grubber down the left for Gilroy to chase. Ivan Dineen looked to have interfered with the Ulster wing though as he chased down the kick.
Rolland has gone to his TMO to check for a knock-on during Trimble’s catch under an aerial bomb, and also for foul play by Dineen….
19.16 – 5 minutes – It looks like to ball went backwards from Trimble’s hands. That means the TMO is now looking at the potential foul play by Dineen. Gilroy beat everyone for pace to get to Payne’s wonderful grubber kick, and it appears the Munster centre held him back. One more check from the TMO.
19.17 – 5 minutes – It’s just a penalty and there will be no yellow card for Dineen. We feel he’s lucky to get away with that, but the TMO says it wasn’t ‘obvious’ a try would have been scored.
Ulster kick the penalty into the corner.
19.18 – 6 minutes – Looks like a try for Ulster! We’re going to the TMO again, but it looked good on first glance!
19.18 – TRY! Ulster 8-0 Munster (Payne ’6)
19.19 – CONVERSION! Ulster 10-0 Munster (Pienaar ’6)
19.20 – 7 minutes - Phew! Helter skelter opening minutes here. Ulster kicked into the corner and after their forwards were repelled at the maul and in their short phases, Paddy Jackson put a lovely diagnol grubber in behind the Munster defence for Payne to touch down under pressure from Conway.
Bounced up perfectly for the fullback, but just reward for an excellent start by the home side.
19.22 – 9 minutes – Ian Keatley has missed a very straightforward attempt at the posts there. Munster won a scrum from kick off thanks to a superb choke tackle turnover, before Stephen Archer won a penalty at the set-piece. Really poor connection from the out-half though and Ulster get a chance to clear the ball out of their 22.
19.24 – 11 minutes – Munster enjoyed sustained possession there, with Dineen making a few strong surges. However, Ulster’s defence looked well up to the task and the passage ended with Ronan O’Mahony going off his feet to concede the penalty.
Poor from Jackson though, as his kick to touch sails out of play beyond the try-line and Munster get a scrum back on the half-way line.
19.26 – 13 minutes – Another frustrating end to that Munster attack as O’Mahony’s poor pass leads to Donnacha O’Callaghan in the wide right channel. That was a little better from the away team though, with some sharp handling by Peter O’Mahony in particular.
19.30 – 15 minutes – Ulster’s defence commits its first real error of the night as Chris Henry gets caught well offside. Keatley has kicked that on to touch just outside the Ulster 22, but then the line-out malfunctions and Ulster steal possession.
Payne grubbers the ball in behind Munster yet again, and this time it’s Trimble who very nearly wins the race to regain possession. The ball rolls into touch though and Munster go back on the attack. However, O’Donnell is pinged for catching Keatley’s inaccurate garryowen in an offside position. Pienarr will have a go from the halfway line…
19.30 – PENALTY! Ulster 13-0 Munster (Pienaar ’18)
19.32 – 19 minutes – Munster lose possession with a turnover penalty again. They worked their way into Ulster’s 22, but Herring won the penalty superbly. Penney will not be happy with his men’s support play so far; they’ve been beaten to all the important rucks in the opening 19 minutes.
19.34 – 20 minutes – Dave Kilcoyne has been putting himself about early on at Ravenhill.
19.35 – 22 minutes – Keatley has missed another very kickable penalty, from just to the left of the posts. Dan Tuohy had conceded after coming in from the side of a maul, but the Munster out-half pushed his effort to the right this time. The Ravenhill crowd took great pleasure in that miss.
19.37 – 24 minutes – Luke Marshall is the latest to win a turnover penalty for Ulster. Penney’s men need to sort that out as soon as possible. The home side have been superb at recognising isolated attackers, of whom there are too many for Munster.
19.38 – TheScore.ie reader Eddie Barrett has a bad feeling abut Munster’s out-half situation:
Munster – why no JJ Hanrahan tonight – Keatley a disaster so far ?
19.39 – 25 minutes – A shot from immediately after Jared Payne dotted down thanks to Jackson’s grubber kick.
19.41 – 28 minutes – Interminable scrum setting and re-setting for at least 2 minutes here. Alain Rolland seems to be frustrating the players with his calling at the set-piece. Cathal Sheridan was penalised for not feeding the ball quickly enough there, but the scrum appeared to have already collapsed.
The result is a turnover of possession, with Ulster now in a strong attacking position outside the Munster 22…
19.44 – 30 minutes – Galling lack of discipline from Roger Wilson, who dives right off his feet at an attacking ruck to concede a penalty. Ulster had worked their way up to the Munster try-line, so that was not the place to lose one’s feet in attack. Something of a let-off for Penney’s side there after some powerful Ulster attack.
Dave Foley is on the pitch now to replace the injured Donncha O’Callaghan. Keatley misses touch from that penalty.
19.47 – 32 minutes – One of Ulster’s main attacking tactics so far has been to look for small pockets of space in behind Munster’s defensive line. They’re finding those gaps with little grubbers and chips, sending Penney’s side into immediate scrambles.
As for their defence, we’ve already touched upon their breakdown turnovers of well-identified one-off runners. Munster really need to tighten things up at Ravenhill.
19.51 – 34 minutes – Wow! Some last-gasp defending helps Munster just hang on as Ulster nearly, nearly score a second try. The first thrust came as Andrew Trimble broke through after a loose Munster kick. The wing broke from his own half to feed Luke Marshall, but he was dragged down inches short.
Peter O’Mahony won a brilliant turnover, but the clearing kick was won back and Paddy Jackson nearly got over out on the right. A brilliant tackle from Dave Foley saved the day, before John Afoa almost got in in the corner, but his foot was in touch.
Keatley has just missed another kick to touch, and now Paul O’Connell has been reprimanded for speaking to Alain Rolland too often.
19.52 – 36 minutes – Keatley is looking like his confidence has drained away this evening. Worrying for Munster without JJ Hanrahan on the bench. Duncan Williams is on for the injured Cathal Sheridan at scrum-half.
19.53 – TRY! Ulster 18-0 Munster (Cave ’37)
19.54 – 37 minutes – What a magnificent try from Ulster! Textbook counter-attacking from Jared Payne as he targets the isolated Paul O’Connell to break from his own half, feeding Trimble wide on the right. The wing cut inside before popping out to the supporting Cave, who touches down after a scintillating attack.
19.54 – CONVERSION! Ulster 20-0 Munster (Pienaar ’38)
19.56 – 39 minutes – More injury worries for Munster as Damian Varley gets withdrawn with what looked like a hamstring tear. Duncan Casey is on at hooker. Very concerning indeed, particularly with Mike Sherry already out.
Munster are on the attack here in the closing seconds of the half…
19.56 – TRY! Ulster 20-5 Munster (Dineen ’40)
19.57 – 40 minutes – There’s the character we know this Munster side has. An intelligent pass from Duncan Williams put Keatley into space, and the out-half was able to serve away from a defender to give Dineen a 2-on-1 situation. The centre backed himself and got over powerfully.
However, Keatley has again missed the kick.
19.58 – HALF TIME: Ulster 20-5 Munster
20.01 – So what were your thoughts on that breathless first-half? Are Munster still in this game or do they have little hope of a comeback? What should Rob Penney change at half time?
And most importantly – how good is Jared Payne?
20.03 – Munster centre is getting some well-deserved love on Twitter. He has possibly been the pick of the bunch for the away team so far.
20.06 – Two missed penalties and one failed conversion for Ian Keatley so far. Young Johnny Holland is on the bench, but his lack of experience may be a deterrent for Penney.
20.07 – TheScore.ie reader Andrew Fitzsimons feels this game is proof that Ulster’s players are being short-changed when it comes to international selection:
I know it’s biased but I think there should be a few more Ulster players in the Ireland team. Also I think Tuohy is now ahead of McCarthy and Ryan but level with Toner vying for the second row.
20.09 – If you missed those two Ulster tries, here’s the link to watch both. The second one in particular is well worth a viewing.
20.11 – Both teams are back on the pitch and it’s Munster’s turn to drop-off…
20.13 – 41 minutes – A clearing kick form Payne hands possession to Munster and they need to be far more decisive with it. Accuracy at the breakdown is the key attacking element Penney will be looking for in this second half; there was far too much detachment between ball carrier and support player in the first 40.
Ian Keatley has a penalty with which to vanquish his first half demons. He’s 43 metres out, but straight in front…
20.14 – 43 minutes - Ooof, he’s hit the left post with that one. Keatley shakes the head after his latest miss. 11 points left behind from the tee now for Munster.
20.16 – 44 minutes – That grubber in behind the Munster defence has worked out once again for Ulster, this time due to a Ronan O’Mahony knock-on as he scampered to cover. Duncan Williams is getting treatment on a bang to the neck, but he appears to be ok to continue.
Scrum for Ulster in the middle of the pitch, 10 metres inside the Munster half. More troubles at the scrum as Rolland allows the packs to re-set…
20.18 – 46 minutes – And Tom Court concedes another penalty to Stephen Archer, folding in immediately on the ‘set’ call. Keatley knocks the penalty into touch right on the Ulster 22, and Peter O’Mahony wins Duncan Casey’s throw…
20.19 – 47 minutes – John Afoa decides to cut Ulster’s losses and drags down Munster’s advancing maul. The visitors go back into the corner for another maul…
20.20 – TRY! Ulster 20-10 Munster (Kilcoyne ’48)
20.22 – CONVERSION! Ulster 20 -12 Munster (Keatley ’49)
The Munster out-half gets his first kick in five attempts and Munster are right back in this. The maul was organised and patient, with Kilcoyne the man getting the rewards for a wonderful pack effort. Penney will hope that kick settles Keatley down.
20.25 – 51 minutes – Johne Murphy has just replaced Ronan O’Mahony. He’s been in excellent form so far this season and might just have an important part to play this evening.
Munster have just won a superb scrum penalty as Archer again takes Court apart. The pack is really turning up the physicality levels for the away team. Ulster have certainly eased off in this second half.
20.26 – Great shot of Felix Jones tackling Craig Gilroy:
20.29 – 54 minutes – It’s Court who has come out on top of his latest mini-duel with Stephen Archer. The Ireland international popped the tighthead up, with Kilcoyne retreating on the loosehead side too.
Pienaar is having a go from wide on the right, around 45 metres out. Difficult position…
20.31 – 57 minutes – And he’s missed it badly, scuffing it to the left. Munster are then nearly punished for their attempt to counter-attack out of their own 22, with Ulster turning them over. However, the home side go for a quick-tap penalty and cough up the ball again.
Casey finds his man after Keatley kicks to touch, and Munster are on the attack again… But another turnover as Ulster counter-attack…
20.31 – 59 minutes – Darren Cave breaks through the Munster line…
20.33 – 60 minutes – Munster have recovered the ball just as it looked like Pienaar could provide a scoring offload. Johne Murphy managed to dive in to win the loose ball and they have survived the latest scare. Ulster back on the attack as they win the line-out, and there is advantage being played now…
20.35 – 62 minutes – Casey Laulala gives away the penalty and Rolland gives O’Mahony a team warning for their concession of penalties in their defensive area of the pitch. Pienaar should kick this from straight in front of the sticks…
20.35 – PENALTY! Ulster 23-12 Munster (Pienaar ’62)
20.37 – 63 minutes – Nick Williams is on the pitch. Munster beware. Roger Wilson called ashore for the powerful No. 8.
20.39 – 65 minutes – Munster get a penalty there, and a lucky one at that. Ivan Dineen has knocked on a phase earlier, but Rolland missed it on that occasion. A late tackle on O’Mahony by Tuohy was the infringement, and Munster have gone to touch and surely another maul here…
20.40 – TRY! Ulster 23-17 Munster (Coughlan ’66)
20.41 – CONVERSION! Ulster 23-19 Munster (Keatley ’67)
20.43 – 69 minutes – Munster’s maul is just unstoppable at the moment, and Keatley should be looking to find touch inside Ulster’s half with every penalty they get. Just four points in this now, and the Ravenhill crowd is suddenly quiet.
Some huge tackles flying in, with Laulala continuing to stand out in that regard. Can Munster pull this off? Nick Williams on the charge now as Ulster surge forward…
20.45 – 71 minutes – Rolland has gone to the TMO to see which player will be sin-binned for hands in the ruck inside their own 22. It proves inconclusive though, and the footage doesn’t provide a tell-tale sign that one particular player was guilty.
Bizarrely, Peter O’Mahony admits it was him, but Rolland allows him to stay on the pitch. Pienaar with the gimme…
20.46 – PENALTY! Ulster 26-19 Munster (Pienaar ’71)
20.47 – This is an absolutely superb game at Ravenhill. Here’s the moment Coughlan touched down for Munster:
20.49 – 74 minutes – Murphy juggles the ball, but hangs on. Munster continue to build an attack here, with Keatley looking far more confident. Ulster need to be disciplined. Murphy puts an intelligent grubber in behind, and Payne is forced to rush his clearing kick.
Line-out for Munster now inside the Ulster 22 and they will surely maul this…
20.51 – 75 minutes – Munster were heading for the try-line there, and Dan Tuohy has been penalised for dragging down one of the original lifters. Munster go back to touch, five metres out from the try-line. Duncan Casey’s throwing has been excellent. Here Munster go…
20.52 – 76 minutes - Munster drive a full five metres over the line, but Rolland says it’s ‘inconclusive’ and awards a five metre scrum. No TMO there, why not have a check at least? Munster with another chance now…
20.53 – 77 minutes – Ulster have driven Munster right off that scrum! They win the penalty and Pienaar clears the ball away from the Ulster 22. It was Callum Black who looked to get on top of BJ Botha in that scrum, the battle of the replacements won by Ulster.
20.55 – 78 minutes – Munster get possession back and they being their attack just outside their own 22.. But O’Connell knocks-on as they attempt to move the ball wide to the left. O’Connell then picks up a yellow card as he attempts to win possession back at the ruck!
20.55 – YELLOW CARD! Paul O’Connell (’79)
20.56 – PENALTY! Ulster 29-19 Munster (Pienaar ’80)
20.57 – 80 minutes – Pienaar puts Munster out of bonus point territory there. Dineen does wonderfully to re-win the kick-off, but then Keatley kicks the ball into touch with an ill-judged grubber.
20.57 – FULL TIME: Ulster 29-19
20.59 – A really excellent, entertaining game between the two Irish provinces. Far from perfect in terms of skills and breakdown work, but there was lots of physicality and attacking ambition. Ulster deserved their victory thanks to their attacking ambition in the first-half.
Munster’s pack rolled up the sleeves after the interval and their maul was a lethal weapon. However, they had left themselves with too much to do. Ian Keatley will rue his missed 11 points from the tee.
What did you think of the game?
21.01 – That’s all we have time for this evening, but thanks for joining us for a superb game. As always, your comments and opinions are greatly appreciated, so keep them coming. Cheers.