Match Report: Ulster Rugby 14-15 Munster Rugby

Charles Piutau scored his first Ulster try but couldn't help them to a win

Charles Piutau scored his first Ulster try but couldn’t help them to a win

In a finish that was remarkably similar to last week’s win over the Exeter Chiefs, Munster took victory from the Kingspan Stadium after a late Rory Scannell drop goal handed them a 14-15 win over Ulster.

Despite leading at half-time courtesy of a first try for Charles Piutau and a further effort by Rob Lyttle, the home side couldn’t hold onto their advantage, and missed a chance to steal the win at the end when Paddy Jackson pushed a drop goal of his own wide.

Man of the Match Scannell added a try of his own just before the break, with centre partner Jaco Taute also crossing before the winning kick five minutes from time.

The game could not have got off to a better start for the hosts, who had a long spell of possession to begin the game, eventually leading to a speculative crossfield kick from Jackson, which was fielded by Craig Gilroy, with Piutau scooping up the loose ball and scampering over.

In the balance of the first half, that was completely against the run of play, as Munster repeatedly assaulted the Ulster line throughout the opening 40, but they were always repelled by a white wall in defence.

Try as they might, the men from Limerick couldn’t find that opening to get over, with the hosts forcing them into frustrating errors in the red zone.

Even more frustrating then for the visitors was when Ulster went up the other end they immediately scored, substitute Rob Lyttle shaking off two poor efforts at tackles to go in under the posts.

To most teams that would be a sucker punch, but Munster, to their credit, struck back on the stroke of half time as good hands in the corner finally gave them the try they deserved, centre Rory Scannell finishing the move off.

They should have been back within a converted score just after the break when Keatley remarkably missed a simple penalty off the restart, but the visitors’ defence came to their rescue when they held out an extended spell of Ulster possession within their own 22.

Even though Ulster were competing more it was still Munster who were the more threatening, and their danger was finally converted into more points when Jaco Taute burrowed his way under his tackle to score from close range just after the hour.

With only two points between the teams, Jackson then got the chance to take it beyond a penalty with one of his own, but bizarrely a firework went off as he struck the ball and he pushed it wide.

It was funny at the time, but less so when Scannell popped up with five minutes to go and sent over a drop goal that gave the visitors the lead for the first time in the game.

It was hauntingly reminiscent of last week’s win over Exeter, only this time when Jackson hit his drop goal it went agonisingly wide of the posts, handing a deserved victory to the visitors.

The scorers

For Ulster
Tries: Piutau, Lyttle
Cons: Jackson (2)

For Munster
Tries: R Scannell, Taute
Con: R Scannell
DG: R Scannell

ULSTER RUGBY
(15-9) Charles Piutau, Tommy Bowe, Luke Marshall, Darren Cave (Rob Lyttle 8), Craig Gilroy, Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar (Paul Marshall 75); (1-8) Callum Black (Kyle McCall 57), Rob Herring, Wiehahn Herbst (Andy Warwick 64), Dan Tuohy, Franco van der Merwe, Robbie Diack (Conor Joyce 70), Sean Reidy, Roger Wilson (Clive Ross 28).

Subs not used: John Andrew, Brett Herron.

MUNSTER RUGBY
(15-9) Andrew Conway (Alex Wootton 60), Darren Sweetnam, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Ronan O’Mahony, Ian Keatley (Dan Goggin 69), Duncan Williams; (1-8) Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan (Stephen Archer 70), Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland, Peter O’Mahony, Tommy O’Donnell (Robin Copeland 60), Jack O’Donoghue.

Subs not used: Vincent O’Brien, Brian Scott, Darren O’Shea, Abrie Griesel.

Man of the Match: Rory Scannell (Munster)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)