David Pollock, one of Ulster Rugby’s rising young stars.
Irrespective of the perceived strength of the Munster side this was a well deserved and welcome win for Ulster Rugby.
Playing into a strong wind, Ulster knew they had to hit the floor running and things looked to be going according to plan when they destroyed the Munster scrum leaving the sloth like and underachieving Buckley disinterested for the rest of the game. Unfortunately, Ulster’s woeful season in front of the posts continued with O’Connor blasting wide. With the Munsters, almost immediately, marching down the field to bag the first three of the game things were looking ominous.
However Ulster knew that nothing short of a win was acceptable and with Fitzpatrick rolling back the years in an impressive front row display and with the back row battering their opponents, Ulster picked up the gauntlet and kept Munster largely pinned in their own half.
At the end of the first quarter O’Connor was replaced by Humphreys and the game started to open up with Ulster making good ground against the wind. Humphreys landed a penalty after about 20 minutes and a few minutes later a rejuvenated Nagusa scored in the corner after an interception from the busy Trimble.
Shortly after, Caldwell took his customary 10 minute break and Warwick slotted the resultant penalty. However the pack battled up field and after some great work from Nagusa, Wallace was unfortunate not to be awarded Ulsters second try after yet more incompetent refereeing from the overrated Roland. Such a thing is confidence that moments later Nagusa sliced through the Munster defence, after a nice show of the ball from Wallace, to score under the posts. With Humphreys slotting the conversion this took the half time score to 15 – 6.
Munster offered little in the second half apart from their usual tactics of taking out players off the ball, tripping players off the ball and a series of high tackles but Ulster were comfortably on top and were pushing for a bonus point.
Boss, on for Willis, showed quick thinking with a break off a scrum to score in the corner with Humphreys converting. Unfortunately the inevitable change out of players throughout the last quarter took some of the momentum out of the game and Ulster were unable to bag that valuable fourth try.
Going into the International break Ulster can be reasonably satisfied with back to back Magners League wins. The team is starting to look settled but there are still issues at scrum half and out half.
At scrum half Willis and Boss are fairly similar with Boss maybe just edging it with his extra power and pace. Both need to work more with the pack to improve the presentation of the ball at the breakdown and whoever manages to control this area should start the rest of the season.
At outhalf it looks like it’s going to be another O’Gara/Humphreys scenario with O’Connor and Ian Humphreys each bringing a different game to the field. Up until now I would have clearly plumped for O’Connor but with the Ulster pack moulding into a formidable unit it may now be time to give Humphreys a bit of a run.
Roll on Connacht at the end of November.