Ulster 17 Munster 24
MUNSTER held off a spirited late Ulster comeback at the Kingspan Stadium on Friday evening to secure a vital away win in the URC.
Ulster scrum-half John Cooney opened the scoring with an eighth-minute penalty from 35m but Munster levelled matters just three minutes later with a 22m penalty from out-half Joey Carbery straight in front of the Ulster posts.
Munster scored the opening try of the match in the 22nd minute when tighthead Stephen Archer burrowed over from close range after late replacement second row Jason Jenkins had punctured a hole down the Ulster centre to create the opportunity, and Jack O’Donoghue and John Hodnett had gotten close.
They crossed again in the 27th minute with a scintillating try from Keith Earls in the right corner after some excellent handling from Jenkins, Jean Kleyn, Damian de Allende, Joey Carbery and Chris Farrell had combined to put him in the clear, to give Munster a 3-15 lead at half time.
Munster put themselves three scores in front with another Carbery penalty in the 44th minute from under the Ulster posts after more good pressure, but just two minutes later Stuart McCloskey brilliantly plucked a Carbery kick one-handed from the Belfast sky to instigate an Ulster attack which ended with their maul blasting over, with hooker Rob Herring dotting down for the crucial try.
That score sparked the home side into life and they were confident of scoring again in the 55th minute only for Thomas Ahern to brilliantly steal an Ulster lineout with his first contribution 5m from his own line, and Munster capitalised by marching down the pitch and registering another three-pointer from Carbery in the 59th minute.
Shane Daly was brandished a yellow card in the 75th minute and almost immediately Sean Reidy dived over American Football style to score to make it a four-point game with just four minutes remaining, but Munster controlled the last moments, even adding another Carbery penalty in the 80th minute, to secure the victory.
Cooney (1 pen, 2 cons), Herring, Reidy (1 try each).
Carbery (4 pens, 1 con), Archer, Earls (1 try each).
S Moore, Baloucoune, Hume, McCloskey, McIlroy, Lowry, Cooney; Warwick, Herring, M Moore, O’Connor, Henderson (c), Rea, Murphy, Timoney.
Milasinovich for M Moore (25), Carter for Henderson (41), Doak for Cooney (53), Reidy and Roberts for Rea and Herring (59), O’Sullivan for Warwick (64), Madigan for S Moore (71).
Haley; Earls, Farrell, de Allende, Daly; Carbery, Casey; Loughman, Barron, Archer; Kleyn, Jenkins; O’Donoghue (c), Hodnett, Kendellen.
J Wycherley and Ryan for Loughman and Archer (54), Ahern for Jenkins (55), F Wycherley for Kleyn (59), Murray and Cloete for Casey and Hodnett (64), Buckley for Barron (66).
Jaco Peyper (SARU)