Fielding a near full strength side, Ulster defeated Munster 51-24 in front of 7000 spectators at a bitterly cold Ravenhill.
Fielding a near full strength side, Ulster defeated Munster 51-24 in front of 7000 spectators at a bitterly cold Ravenhill. Ulster started with 14 of the 22 who were involved against Munster in the Celtic League semi-final – a game Munster won 15-9 – and against that quality Munster can be more than happy with their performance.
With the game approaching the final quarter Ulster held a slim 30-24 advantage before a second try from Ryan Constable, and ones from David Humphreys and Tyrone Howe gave the final scoreline a hue more in keeping with the relative strengths of the opposing sides.
Only Dominic Crotty (playing in the centre), Jason Holland (playing at out-half) and forwards Marcus Horan and Jim Williams remained in the Munster side from the Celtic League semi-final, with Declan Kidney using this game to give, what might be termed, the lesser lights a chance to shine. And of the two coaches Kidney probably had more to pleased about at the end. Jeremy Staunton missed an early penalty opportunity to put his side in front before a Neil Doak block-down on a Jason Holland clearance led to the opening try for Ulster which David Humphreys converted.
In the space of six minutes a Jason Holland penalty (taken by the Midleton man when Staunton was down injured) and two from Staunton, with one reply from Humphreys and Munster were very much in the hunt (10-9) before Ulster centre Adam Larkin scored his side’s second try. After another Staunton penalty Humphreys again added the points to a Ryan Constable try as Ulster threatened to race clear leading at this stage by twelve points (24-12).
However, Marcus Horan pilfered a ball from a ruck and ran from the 22 to score a try to the left of the posts which Staunton converted to leave just five points separating the sides at half time.
Humphreys stretched the lead with a 46th minute penalty but Munster replied with a try from Staunton. The effort of keeping pace with the home side saw errors creep into the Munster game and in the final stages of the game Ulster managed three converted tries to seal a victory that was celebrated with all the gusto normally reserved for a European Cup setting.