4 Dec, 10:19
Grand Slam winners Fiona Coghlan and Nora Stapelton have returned the Women's RBS 6 Nations trophy to Chief Executive John Feehan at the Six Nations offices in Dublin.
Munster cruised to victory in their Celtic league match against Ulster to claim only their second win in the north since 1979. Paul Burke was the main tormentor with 14 points coming from his boot to consign Ulster to their fifth defeat in the Celtic League, leaving them second from bottom in the table.
Although the crowd of over 6,000 gave proceedings their usual Ravenhill reception in the beginning, the first half was not exactly a pretty sight. Both sides lacked any cohesion for the first half an hour, with the only moments of excitement coming when Johnny Bell, restored to the side following injury, nailed opposite number James Storey in a tackle and Burke opened the scoring in the 15th minute with a penalty.
The majority of the half was played between both 22's, with neither side making any serious inroads or controlling the game. The format seemed to be Ulster take the ball into contact, turn it over and Burke would turn them on the heels with a deep kick. Ulster's defence stood firm to this pressure, limiting Munster to the one penalty, who managed with the loss of Alan Quinlan to an ankle injury after only 10 minutes, with Stephen Keogh coming on to have a good game.
But Ulster finally cracked at the very end of the half when a lateral attack by Ulster saw a risky pass by Adam Larkin picked off by Mossie Lawlor, who showed impressive pace to score in the corner. With Burke missing the conversion, the end of the half finally saw Ulster put real pressure on the Munster line.
The forwards battered at the line, taking it through several phases but when it eventually was put through the hands to find Andy Ward on the stand touchline, he has forced into touch by Shaun Payne.
The second half was a vast improvement on the first, but again it was the visitors who played the majority of the rugby. Larkin did put Ulster on the scoreboard with a penalty, but this was wiped out by three further penalties due to Ulster indiscipline to make the game safe at 3 - 17 with 15 minutes remaining. Ulster failed to make any serious inroads in the remaining game time and it was man of the match Burke who put the cherry on the performance by floating a beautiful cross kick for Payne to catch and score deep in injury time, with Burke adding the conversion.
Ulster coach Mark McCall was bitterly disappointed by the performance and said The one thing that the Ravenhill crowd can expect is for us to show appetite, enthusiasm, energy and certainly in the first half hour it wasn't there. He added, We've now got to start winning some rugby matches. Ulster will get their chance against the borders next Friday.
Scoring Sequence: 15 mins: P Burke pen, 0-3; 40 mins: M Lawlor try, 0-8; half-time: 8-0; 49 mins: A Larkin pen, 3-8; 51 mins: Burke pen, 3-11; 62 mins: Burke pen, 3-14; 64 mins: Burke pen, 3-17; 80+5 mins: S Payne try, Burke con, 3-24.
15 - B Cunningham 14 - T Bowe 13 - J Bell 12 - P Steinmetz 11 - T Howe 10 - A Larkin 9 - N Doak 1 - S Best 2 - P Shields 3 - R Moore 4 - R Frost 5 - M McCullough 6 - A Ward 7 - N Best 8 - C Feather
Replacements: G Brown for Feather (59 mins), A Maxwell for Howe (65 mins), S Mallon for Bell (72 mins), K Campbell for Doak (75 mins), R McCormack for Moore (75 mins), R Best for Shields (78 mins).
15 - C Cullen 14 - S Payne 13 - J Storey 12 - J Holland 11 - M Lawlor 10 - P Burke 9 - M Prendergast 1 - F Roche 2 - J Flannery 3 - G McIlwham 4 - D O'Callaghan 5 - T Horgan 6 - A Quinlan 7 - D Leamy 8 - D Wallace
Replacements: S Keogh for Quinlan (10 mins), J Kelly for Holland (75 mins), T Bowman for Horgan (80 mins).