Ulster V Munster
Ravenhill, March 23rd
A 76th minute try from debutant Brian Carney sealed a tremendous Munster win at Ravenhill, having fought back from 21 - 3 deficit at half time.
By halftime Ulster seemed a sure bet for a try bonus win. At the end they had to settle for a losing bonus that put them on equal points with Leinster.
An excellent first half from Ulster saw them rack up fourteen unanswered points in twenty minutes. The opening try wasn't long coming, courtsey of Paul Steinmentz on 8 minutes, after Andrew Trimble's perfectly timed pass sent him through the gap and over the whitewash. Humphreys added the conversion to put Ulster 7 - 0 ahead.
Munster prop Tony Buckley was shown the yellow card on the 11 minute mark and Ulster made it count.
Mark McCall's side were awarded a penalty on 19 minutes when Munster were punished for hands in the ruck, but instead of opting for the three points in front of the posts, Ulster kicked to the corner for the line-out, a bonus point win obviously at the forefront of their minds. The Ulster forwards secured ball off the back of the line-out and Roger Wilson drove up the short-side and over the line and Humphreys added the conversion. Ulster 14 - 0 Munster.
Munster notched up their first points of the evening from a penalty kick courtsey of Eoin Hickey after Ryan Caldwell was caught not rolling away but Ulster replied with their third try of the first half when Andrew Trimble raced over the line from deep after a well timed Humphreys pass. The outhalf again added the extras to put Ulster 21 - 3 ahead.
Munster's half time team talk must have been a classic. Within four minutes of the re-start they were back on scoreboard after a well-timed off-load from out-half Eoin Hickey to centre Trevor Halstead who powered through Ulsterâ00s broken defensive line and touched down under the posts. Hickeyâ00s conversion was good. Ulster 21 â00 10 Munster.
Ulster fans thought they had the bonus point try bagged when second row Ryan Caldwell drove over the line on 57 minutes after his own burst up the field and a period of Ulster pressure at the line, but the referee Alan Rolland adjudged it to have been held up.
Ulster looked to have lost some of the edge they had in the first half and some poor defense and a Paddy Wallace fumble on the Munster try-line gave the visitorâ00s a 5m scrum on the 63 minute mark. Big No.8 John Oâ00Sullivan picked the ball up of the base and charged over the line for their second try. Replacement Jeremy Manning added the conversion.
Ulster 21 â00 17 Munster
Ulsterâ00s hopes of winning the match and possibly retaining the title, began to evaporate late in the second half. On 75 minutes, after great patience from the Munster side, the visitors were rewarded when an Alan Quinlan high kick from mid-field found Brian Carney, the rugby league convert playing his first game of union in 13 years, for the touch-down in the bottom right hand corner. Manning's conversion was the nail in the Ulster coffin and as the clock ran down the home side's last ditch attempts to try to secure a win, nevermind a bonus point, proved fruitless.
Tries: Steinmetz, Wilson, Trimble
Cons: Humphreys 3
Tries: Halstead, O'Sullivan, Carney
Cons: Hickey, Manning 2
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Touch Judges: David Keane (Ireland), John Carvill (Ireland)
Assessor: Jim Irvine (Ireland)