Ulster sign off for Christmas with a 19-12 victory over Munster in a feisty affair at Kingspan tonight thanks to tries from Rob Herring, Robert Baloucoune and Dave Shanahan.

From the kick off Ulster found themselves on the back foot when Robert Baloucoune left a little too much in on his opposite number and was sent to the sin bin for taking Darren Sweetnam in the air.

I think he can count himself lucky that it was only a yellow, as on replay the landing looked like it warranted a red card but perhaps landing on his side saved Baloucoune.

Ulster only sacrificed three points in the time that they were down a man  thanks to a JJ Hanrahan penalty. The home side controlled the ball in the first six minutes of the match which used up most of the man deficit.

Munster set their defence at a fast pace forcing Ulster to work extra hard in order to break the gain line. On his last appearance, Henry Speight had a couple of opportunities but for the bounce of the ball. The confidence gained after the last two matches told as Ulster turned down a kickable opportunity in order to go for the corner and the pack rumbled over with Rob Herring emerging with the ball.

Ulster offered a little more than Munster in the first half but defences were certainly on top with only two linebreaks in the whole half. Still, Ulster attempted a few moves off set piece and while they may not have ended in a score, it had Munster’s defence scrambling.

Hanrahan knocked over his second penalty and the first points of the second half to bring the visitors to within one point. Ulster continued to turn down kicks at goal in search of a try but they weren’t to as good effect as for the first try.

While UIster looked the more likely to cross the whitewash, Munster’s defence held strong and kept them in the game. The second try did follow and it was a first try in an Ulster jersey for Rob Baloucoune. The backline thrived off of broken play and James Hume worked some space. Dave Shanahan ran a great support line before finding the Enniskillen man who finished under the sticks.

Munster returned with a Bill Johnston penalty to make the leave only five points between the sides with 14 minutes left in the match.

Dave Shanahan gave Ulster a shot a bonus point when he crossed with three minutes left. Ulster had a dominant scrum which worked it’s way infield creating space allowing Rory Best to break off and pop to the Dublin native who crossed in the corner.

A late Bill Johnston saw Munster walk away with a losing bonus point. While Ulster will be delighted with the win, I can’t help but feel that there was a bonus point there left out on the pitch.

Munster really struggled to threatened the Ulster line and were restricted to just the solitary line break made by Alex Wootton. The home side dominated the possession (63%) and territory (58%).and if I’m honest, never looked like losing the game despite inaccuracies with the ball in hand.

6.9 Performance

Henry Speight signed off his rugby at Kingspan with another great performance charting 54 metres off nine carries.
Marcell Coetzee deservedly was awarded man of the match and was Ulster’s main threat over the ball as well as top tackler with 14.
Munster didn’t let Will Addison have as much space as Scarlets did the week before however he always made gains when he ran at Sam Arnold’s outside shoulder.
The statistics may say that Rory Best only registered one assist however he freed his arms to keep the ball alive which resulted in Baloucoune’s try.
Lastly James Hume and Johnny McPhillips made an impact off the bench. Hume made 42 metres off three carries, defeating three defenders and making one clean break in the process while McPhillips looked assured when he slotted in at full back to replace Louis Ludik.

  • Eric O'Sullivan 7
  • Rob Herring 7
  • Marty Moore 7
  • Ian Nagle 6
  • Kieran Treadwell 6
  • Sean Reidy 7
  • Jordi Murphy 7
  • Marcell Coetzee 9
  • John Cooney 6
  • Billy Burns 7
  • Robert Baloucoune 7
  • Stuart McCloskey 6
  • Will Addison 8
  • Henry Speight 8
  • Louis Ludik 6
  • Rory Best 7
  • Kyle McCall 6
  • Ross Kane 6
  • Clive Ross N/A
  • Nick Timoney 6
  • Dave Shanahan 7
  • Johnny McPhillips 7
  • James Hume 8
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