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A lacklustre Ulster coughed up a win to a harder working Munster in the PRO12 at Ravenhill on a damp and dreary Saturday afternoon.

Ulster (7) 7
TRY: Louis Ludik. CON: Paddy Jackson.
Munster (3) 9
PEN: Ian Keatley (2). DG: Ian Keatley.

I’d predicted an Ulster win in my Preview, mainly because Munster have been so poor of late, but I’d stated in my Review of the Connacht game, “With Munster, Oyonnax (x2), Saracens and Treviso up in January we expect four wins out of five, and yes, one of those wins is Saracens away!” And at the time of writing this was the game that I expected Ulster to lose. However I’d expected more from both sides and this was a disappointing loss. (If Ulster do go on to win the next five I don’t think that there will be too many people disappointed! )

There’s really not a lot to report on the actual match, it was another of those games full of mistakes, with defences dominating. The visitors put in a big shift in the opening quarter and took a 0 – 3 lead through an eighth minute penalty by Ian Keatley. Ulster hit back on the 23rd minute with a well taken try by Louis Ludik which was converted by Paddy Jackson to give Ulster a 7 – 3 lead.

At the time it looked as though Ulster would pull clear but the Munster men dug in, poked and agitated their opponents, and the Ulster men bumbled and fumbled and lost their concentration. Neither side troubled the score board further before the break.

The second half didn’t add much to proceedings. Keatley knocked over a drop goal on the 57th minute and followed it up three minutes later with his second penalty which gave Munster a 7 – 9 lead with twenty minutes to go.

Ulster had enough opportunities to win the game but two penalty misses from Jackson sealed their fate and Munster held on for a deserved win.

Final Score: Ulster 7 Munster 9. 

Ulster: Louis Ludik, Andrew Trimble, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Rory Scholes, Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar, Kyle McCall, Rory Best, Wiehahn Herbst, Lewis Stevenson, Franco vd Merwe, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Nick Williams. Replacements: Rob Herring, Calum Black, Ricky Lutton, Alan O’Connor, Roger Wilson, Paul Marshall, Ian Humphreys, Sam Arnold.

The last two games have somewhat stalled Ulster’s mid season momentum but there is still plenty of time to get things right and make something of this scrappy season.  Stuart McCloskey and Nick Williams have been marked out of the last two games and Ulster have failed to take advantage of the space created elsewhere, kicking the ball away too frequently. I look forward to seeing what Kiss and his team come up with to counteract this.

In fairness, Ulster’s plight hasn’t been helped by quite liberal refereeing of offside by two Irish referees in the Inter Provincials but it’s something that they have to learn to cope with if they are going to beat Saracens, the “offside” grand masters!

Images courtesy of Ian Humes Photography


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