A late Rory Scannell drop goal gave Munster a hard-earned win over Ulster in their PRO12 interpro derby at Kingspan Park
The win showed that Munster’s epic performance against Glasgow in the Champions Cup last week was not a once off.
It did not look good for Munster early on however, in fact it looked like Ulster could have maybe gone on to claim the four try bonus point.
After early pressure from Munster resulted in nothing Ulster came away with seven points after their first foray into Munster’s 22.
A cross field kick by Paddy Jackson was expertly tapped down by Craig Gilroy to the onrushing Charles Piutau who finished under the posts.
Munster then began to dominate but sustained periods of territory and possession led to nothing as handling errors and predictable attacking play let Ulster clear their line on multiple occasions.
Munster then looked in real trouble after some terrible tackling allowed Rob Lyttle to squeeze through and score his third try of the season. Jackson added his second conversion of the night and Ulster were 14 points to the good.
A trait of Anthony Foley’s Munster teams when he was a player was that they were a team of leaders; when their backs were against the wall and things seemed to be at their worst they would dig deep and play some their best rugby.
You never really had that Munster team beaten for sure until you were on the bus home. Munster are finally beginning to play with the spirit of that great team of the noughties.
After some more pressure close to Ulster’s try line some good hands from Darren Sweetnam put Scannell over in the corner.
Keatley, who was wayward with the boot all night missed the conversion but Munster now had a glimmer of hope as they went in at half time with the score 14-5 in favour of the Ulstermen.
The second half was very similar to the first Ulster’s back line looked dangerous every time they decided to run but Munster’s defence was strong and generally they were starved of possession.
Munster again found themselves deep inside Ulster territory on numerous occasions and the impressive Jaco Taute eventually broke through ulster’s rear guard to cut the deficit even more.
Scannell, who took over the kicking duties when Keatley was replaced nailed the conversion and now there was just two between the teams coming down the home straight.
Then with minutes remaining on the clock up stepped Scannell to nail a sweetly struck drop goal and give Munster their first lead of the night.
Despite late Ulster pressure including a narrowly missed drop goal attempt from Jackson, Munster held on for a thoroughly impressive win.