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Ulster Hit The Summit

Ulster Hit The Summit

Ulster took over at the top of the Celtic League as they scored five tries in a commanding 27-3 win over previous leaders Munster on Friday night.

…Ulster and Ireland fly half David Humphreys tackles Munster’s Trevor Halstead at Ravenhill…

Ulster took over at the top of the Celtic League as they scored five tries in a commanding 27-3 win over previous leaders Munster on Friday night.

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CELTIC LEAGUE: Friday, March 3

Ulster 27 Munster 3, Ravenhill (Att: 12,300)
Scorers: Ulster: Tries: Tommy Bowe, Roger Wilson, Paul Steinmetz, Justin Harrison, Neil McMillan; Con: David Humphreys
Munster: Pen: Paul Burke

Ulster are now two points clear at the summit after recording their second win of the season against their rivals from the south. Mark McCall’s side were dominant throughout and the injury-hit visitors struggled to get into the game.

In a game built on forward power, ex-Wallaby lock Justin Harrison was outstanding, both in the loose and at the set piece where he supplied a steady stream of quality lineout possession.

From there, Ireland fly half David Humphreys was able to direct traffic, which was to be honest, all one-way.

Ulster scored five tries and the result, with the visitors missing nine first choice players who had been on Ireland duty last week, never looked in doubt despite a rusty performance from the home outfit in the opening 40 minutes.

Munster’s hopes – they failed to register any points after the first quarter – were further hit by the loss of centre Barry Murphy with a suspected broken ankle in the first half, and then the sin binning of full-back Shaun Payne which saw the visitors finish the game with 14 men.

After Humphreys saw a seventh-minute penalty sail wide, Leicester-bound Paul Burke opened the visitors’ account with a well struck effort from 45 metres.

However, a minute after the half hour, Humphreys put in a super cross-field kick which Tommy Bowe snatched from Payne for the opening touchdown in the left corner. It was winger Bowe’s sixth try of the league campaign.

Humphreys was wide with the difficult conversion and the game became a fairly dull and scrappy stalemate until two minutes from the end of the first half when Ulster number eight Roger Wilson barged over from a Paul Steinmetz pass in the same corner as Bowe’s try.

Three minutes after the restart, Steinmetz ghosted over after some great approach work from Stephen Ferris and Humphreys added the extras. The bonus point nearly arrived courtesy of Jonny Bell, but referee Alain Rolland adjudged that the former Ireland centre had been put in touch in goal.

Maximum points duly came three minutes after the hour when Harrison got the score from a driving maul off a lineout. Replacement flanker Neil McMillan rubbed further salt into Munster’s wounds with Ulster’s fifth try, two minutes from time.

TIME LINE: 13 minutes – Munster penalty: Paul Burke – 0-3; 17 mins – Ulster try: Tommy Bowe – 5-3; 39 mins – Ulster try: Roger Wilson – 10-3; Half-time – Ulster 10 Munster 3; 44 mins – Ulster try: Paul Steinmetz – 15-3; conversion: David Humphreys – 17-3; 62 mins – Munster yellow card: Shaun Payne; 64 mins – Ulster try: Justin Harrison – 22-3; 79 mins – Ulster try: Neil McMillan – 27-3; Full-time – Ulster 27 Munster 3

ULSTER: Bryn Cunningham; Tommy Bowe, Jonny Bell, Paul Steinmetz, Andew Maxwell; David Humphreys, Isaac Boss; Bryan Young, Rory Best, Simon Best (capt), Justin Harrison, Matt McCullough, Neil Best, Stephen Ferris, Roger Wilson.

Replacements used: Kieran Campbell for Boss (33 mins), Justin Fitzpatrick for Young (57), Neil McMillan for Ferris, Kevin Maggs for Bell (both 67), Adam Larkin for Humphreys (71), Ryan Caldwell for Harrison, Nigel Brady for R Best (both 74).

MUNSTER: Shaun Payne; Ian Dowling, Barry Murphy, Trevor Halstead, Anthony Horgan; Paul Burke, Tomas O’Leary; Frankie Roche, Denis Fogarty, Federico Pucciariello, Brian Madigan, Stephen Keogh, John O’Sullivan, John O’Connor, Anthony Foley (capt).

Replacements used: Gary Connolly for Murphy (26 mins), Mossie Lawlor for Dowling (42), Mark Melbourne for O’Connor (53), Mike Prendergast for Burke (68), Eugene McGovern for Roche (73), Mike Ross for Madigan (74). Not used: Tony Buckley.

Referee: Alain Rolland (IRFU)