Ulster fall to close defeat away to Munster

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Ulster have been pipped to the post in their Pro12 match, losing twenty-two twenty away to Munster.

A Dave O'Callaghan try close to the final whistle sealed it for the home side.

Ulster's two tries came courtesy of Rory Best and Luke Marshall.

The game got off to an explosive start, both on the scoreboard and amongst the players as the two sides came together in just the third minute, with Peter O'Mahony flinging Sean Reidy to the floor in the fracas.

A minute later Ulster took the lead - a powerful maul rolled around the side of the Munster defence and Rory Best emerged from the bottom having scored the try.

But that lead lasted all of two minutes as O'Mahony made the surge through the line, with quick hands between Francis Saili and Angus Lloyd setting the scrum-half over.


Ulster retook the advantage when Jackson sent over a 14th minute penalty after Saili was offside, but the visitors were wasteful with possession as Jackson pushed a penalty wide, and then Luke Marshall failed to put Ruan Pienaar away after bursting down the wing.

Instead the final ten minutes belonged to Munster, who first levelled the scoreline through a Keatley kick and then laid siege to the Ulster line looking for a go-ahead try, with Saili coming closest at the end of the half when he was held up over the line.

Five minutes after the restart and Ulster thought they had a second try when Jacob Stockdale was set away by Marshall, only for the TMO to correctly rule it out for a forward pass from the centre.

They did get a 53rd minute penalty from Jackson, however it could have been more after Andrew Trimble was set through by a great pass from Pienaar, only to be caught at the last minute by Simon Zebo and Earls.

And it was Earls who got the next score, benefitting from Saili's great hand-off and burst through, showing good strength to brush off his man at the line to get the ball down for the try.

Their lead lasted three minutes: the hosts failed to clear from the kick-off and, after going through the phases, a short pass from Jackson sent Marshall over unopposed as the lead switched hands again.

But once more the Ulstermen could not hold their advantage as Munster kicked into the corner and, despite the maul being sacked, the Limerick side stayed patient and eventually Dave O'Callaghan battered his way over.

Ulster could have snatched it at the death as Jackson put up a drop goal, but the kick skewed wide, and they now need two big performances to end the year to salvage their season.

The scorers

For Munster

Tries: Lloyd, Earls, O'Callaghan

Cons: Keatley, Bleyendaal

Pen: Keatley


For Ulster

Tries: Best, L Marshall

Cons: Jackson (2)

Pens: Jackson (2)



(15-9) Simon Zebo, Darren Sweetnam (Andrew Conway 2), Francis Saili, Rory Scannell (Rhys Marshall 67), Keith Earls, Ian Keatley (Tyler Bleyendaal 44), Angus Lloyd (Abrie Griesel 51); (1-8) Dave Kilcoyne (James Cronin 57), Niall Scannell, John Ryan (Stephen Archer 67), Donnacha Ryan (Dave O'Callaghan 61), Billy Holland, Peter O'Mahony, Tommy O'Donnell, Jack O'Donoghue (Jean Deysel 45).



(15-9) Jacob Stockdale, Andrew Trimble, Luke Marshall, Stuart Olding (Stuart McCloskey 51), Charles Piutau (Craig Gilroy 61), Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar; (1-8) Andy Warwick (Callum Black 63), Rory Best (Rob Herring 51), Wiehahn Herbst (Rodney Ah You 72), Kieran Treadwell, Alan O'Connor, Iain Henderson, Chris Henry (Clive Ross 28 (Robbie Diack 70)), Sean Reidy.


Sub not used: Paul Marshall.


Man of the Match: Keith Earls (Munster)

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)

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