Pro12: Munster v Ulster

Munster can make a giant step towards a home semi, as Ulster look to continue unbeaten run in derby

Eamon Donoghue Sat, Apr 15
LIVE: Pro12: Munster v Ulster

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  • Hello and Welcome . . .  Munster versus Ulster kicks off at 3pm in Thomond Park;  probably the most significant derby of the season to date.

    A win will be a big result for the hosts in their pursuit of a home semi-final, but they meet an Ulster team who are unbeaten in seven Pro12 games.

    We'll keep you updated throughout. Any comments and be sure to get in touch via either the comments section ('Contact Us' tab) or on Twitter (@DonoghueEamon).

  • Team news: Two late changes to the Munster side with Angus Lloyd starting at scrumhalf and Ian Keatley coming in at 10. Duncan Williams ruled out with a tight groin as Tyler Bleyendaal switches to the bench.

    MUNSTER:  Simon Zebo; Darren Sweetnam, Francis Saili, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Ian Keatley, Angus Lloyd; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony (capt), Tommy O’Donnell, Jack O’Donoghue.

    Replacements:  Rhys Marshall, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Dave O’Callaghan, Jean Deysel, Abrie Griesel, Tyler Bleyendaal, Andrew Conway.

    ULSTER:  J Stockdale, A Trimble (capt), L Marshall, S Olding, C Piutau; P Jackson, R Pienaar;  A Warwick, R Best, W Herbst, K Treadwell, A O’Connor, I Henderson, C Henry, S Reidy.

    Replacements:  R Herring,  C Black, R Ah You, R Diack, C Ross, P Marshall, S McCloskey, C Gilroy.

  • Gerry Thornley's Lowdown

    Overall Guinness Pro12 head-to-head:  Played 30, Munster won 16, Ulster won 13, drawn 1.

    Last five meetings:  (2014-15) Munster 21 Ulster 20; Ulster 23, Munster 23. (2015-16) Munster 32 Ulster 28; Ulster 7 Munster 9. (2016-17) Ulster 14 Munster 15.

    Five-game Pro12 form guide:  Munster W L W W W. Ulster W W W W D.

    Leading Pro12 try scorers:  Munster: Ronan O’Mahony 9, Andrew Conway, Dave Kilcoyne, Jaco Taute 5 each. Ulster: Jacob Stockdale 8, Charles Piutau 6, Ruan Pienaar 5.

    Leading Pro12 points scorers:  Munster: Tyler Bleyendaal 115. Ulster: Ruan Pienaar 100, Paddy Jackson 84.

    Betting:(Paddy Power):  4/11 Munster, 19/1 Draw, 23/10 Ulster. Handicap odds (Ulster + 7pts) 16/5 Munster, 19/1 Draw, 9/2 Ulster.

    Referee:  Marcus Mitrea (Italy)

    Forecast:  Munster to win.

  • More news on those two late Munster changes. Blyendaal, who has this week been following the concussion protocols, has been named on the bench. It's reported that he felt unwell this morning.  

    Pressure now on Keatley to capitalise on the work of the Munster pack.  

    It's a strong Munster selection nonetheless. Unlike Leinster who have opted to rest players ahead of their Champions Cup semi-final.  

    When asked why he decided to go pretty much full-strength (minus the injured CJ Stander and Conor Murray), Rassie Erasmus says it will "harden them", and is the "perfect test" ahead of their ECC semi-final against the Saracens.

  • Teams on their way out to the field at Thomond Park!
  • Ulster win the toss and opt to play into the wind
  • Munster 0 Ulster 0 (1') Ian Keatley with the kick off. Piutau gathers and clears. Munster in possession on halfway
  • Early fumble by Angus Lloyd, goes back though. Then Iain Henderson concedes a penalty for a high tackle on Ian Keatley.

    Andrew Conway comes on for the injured Darren Sweetnam who picks up an early knock

  • Munster 0 Ulster 0 (3') Kick tennis ends in an Ulster penalty in the Munster half. For holding on. Followed by some afters between Peter O'Mahony and Reidy
  • Munster 0 Ulster 7 (5') Lineout maul can't be stopped as Rory Best scores the game's first try. Jackson converts. Ulster have brought a physical edge here and made a great start to the contest
  • Munster 7 Ulster 7 (8') Great support lines by Munster. O'Mahony breaks. Keith Earls is on his inside. It comes back to him and he finds Lloyd out wide. Lloyd jinks back inside and squeezes over. End to end. Keatley converts.

    Great reaction from the hosts

  • Munster 7 Ulster 7 (10') Simon Zebo clears his lines to give Ulster the lineout on halfway. It's been a frantic start here. Ulster really targetting Lloyd early on, that try will do him the world of good.  

    Meanwhile Seeetnam fails his HIA and will not return

  • Munster 7 Ulster 7 (12') Ulster going through the phases, they work it inside the Munster 22. Piutau to the fore. Francis Saili intercepts but he is offside and concedes the penalty
  • Munster 7 Ulster 10 (13') Jackson converts the penalty. The Ulster backline looking very dangerous early on
  • Munster 7 Ulster 10 (16')  Munster fans unhappy. Ulster awarded a lineout but Earls' kick looked to come off an Ulster player last.

    Clean lineout and Luke Marshall clears his lines with an excellent kick down the line

  • Munster 7 Ulster 10 (18')  Billy Holland claims the Munster lineout in his own 22. Iain Henderson gives away a soft penalty coming in from the side. Munster clear their lines. Then from the lineout, Lloyd puts Munster deep inside the Ulster half
  • Holland gets a hand to the Ulster lineout but a misplaced Niall Scannell pass falls to Jackson who makes yards. Ulster in possession just past halfway
  • Munster 7 Ulster 10 (21') High tackle from Holland. Gives Jackson another chance to add to the Ulster lead with a penalty . . . but he doesn't take it
  • Poor knock on my Piutau from the restart. Munster have the put in to the scrum just inside their half
  • Munster 7 Ulster 10 (23') Great break by Paul Marshall out wide on the left. His offload is too short but it comes back for a penalty for a Munster knock on.  

    Ulster have a lineout in the corner, going for it

  • Munster hold the maul up. And win a penalty with Peter O'Mahony in the thick of it. A significant moment. Excellent defence
  • Munster win a penalty from the scrum in their own 22. Keatley clears his lines.

    Munster win the lineout and Keatley kicks again, and Stockdale knocks on.

    Chris Henry limps off, replaced by Clive Ross

  • Munster 7 Ulster 10 (30') Munster go through the phases and Earls kicks in to the corner. Big pressure on the Ulster lineout from O'Mahony and Ross knocks on.
  • Munster attack off the lineout is flat and Jackson rips the ball and clears his lines. Munster come again but Lloyd knocks on
  • Munster 7 Ulster 10 (35') Choke tackle on Keith Earls but Munster turnover from the scrum. Keatley takes the chance to go for the posts. Great work from John Ryan to pull down the scrum
  • Munster 10 Ulster 10 (37') Keatley makes no mistake to make it a level game. Jack O'Donoghue claims the restart
  • Munster 10 Ulster 10 (39') Stuart Olding takes his eye off the ball and knocks on, another costly Ulster error. O'Donoghue and then Conway make breaks off the scrum. Then Saili makes yards before Niall Scannell is held up on the line.

    Another Munster scrum to come

  • HT Munster 10 Ulster 10  Munster scrum is messy and then O'Donoghue knocks on. Opportunity wasted. Half time whistle follows
  • Ulster giving up territorial advantage at crucial times in the first half with sloppy mistakes. An error-ridden one, but plenty of excitement all round. Munster are level game without getting going yet at all. Ulster taking Munster on up front and getting plenty of change for it. They'll have the wind in the second half.

    All to play for still!

  • Teams back out for the second half
  • Munster 10 Ulster 10 (41') Jackson gets the second half underway. Kick tennis ends in a Munster lineout, claimed by Holland.  

    More kick tennis follows, before Munster move into the Ulster half

  • Stockdales gets on to a loose pass and hacks it ahead of him, but he's undecided whether to repeat the trick or try and pick up the ball. And does neither. Ulster have the ball on halfway
  • Tyler Bleyendaal comes on for Ian Keatley
  • Munster 10 Ulster 10 (44') Forward pass from Luke Marshall, very forward pass, means that Stockdale's breakaway try is disallowed
  • Great line by the Ulster full back, but Marshall's offload isn't as good
  • Munster 10 Ulster 10 (47')  Poor Piutau pass, he's having a stinker so far today, is behind Marshall. And he knocks on.

    Munster turned over however, off the back of their scrum. Ulster with the ball outside their 22

  • Rory Best steals the ball from Lloyd. Who was slow to react. Then Marshall kicks in to the corner. Munster take the lineout quickly and Rory Scannell clears with his left foot
  • Rory Best leaves the field for a HIA as Lloyd is replaced by Abrie Griesel. The young scrumhalf did well on his first start for Munster, but was looking leggy in the last few phases
  • Munster 10 Ulster 13 (53') Big break form Trimble, off a flat pass from Pienaar and a good decoy run. He tries to fade inside Zebo but is held up. The forwards then try to power over as Munster concede a penalty. Jackson converts
  • Rory Best will not return to the play from his HIA. Ulster lineout in his absence is not straight from Rob Herring. Munster fumble themselves in the next play and Ulster move back into Munster territory
  • Knock on from Treadwell. A poor pass to him by Jackson and Munster have a scrum just inside their 10 metre line
  • Munster 10 Ulster 13 (59')  James Cronin, only on the field, knocks on at halfway. Error after error here but some big tackles going in
  • Criag Gilroy is on for Piutau, who has not had his best game. Didn't seem to have his head in it today. In a big game for Ulster
  • TRY MUNSTERRR and what a try!!
  • Munster 15 Ulster 13 (61')  Saili steps three men and then takes in the tackle and makes a fantastic over the top offload to Earls who finishes so well. He squeezes between the tacklers and rolls over. Bleyendaal misses the conversion
  • Bleyendaal has his kick blocked down, recovers, just about. And then Zebo slices his clearance. Ulster have the ball inside the Munster 22
  • Munster 15 Ulster 20 (65') Munster punished. McCloskey powers through. The ball comes out quickly and Luke Marshall crosses over for a TRY! Saili punished for rushing up there on the flat pass. Jackson coverts
  • Rory Scannell got caught awkwardly there trying to tackle McCloskey. He is replaced by Rhys Marshall, and that does not look good
  • Munster 15 Ulster 20 (68') Earls makes a break, he offloads to Bleyendaal who feeds Zebo. He is brought down but Trimble is offside for Ulster. Munster go for the corner
  • Munster 22 Ulster 20 (70')  Lineout maul. Ulster try to pull down but advantage is played and Dave O'Callaghan gets the try. No need for any advantage. Bleyendaal converts
  • Iain Henderson steals the ball and a Munster knock on gives Ulster the put in to the scrum just inside the Munster half. Seven minutes left
  • Munster 22 Ulster 20 (74') Ball turned over and Munster clear their lines to half way. Another poor Ulster lineout gifts the ball back to Munster
  • Poor kick by Griesel, right down the centre. Ulster come again, but Henderson knocks on while running down the blindside. Ulster being killed by individual errors at crucial times
  • Munster 22 Ulster 20 (79') Costly knock on by Deysel gives Ulster one more chance
  • Jackson is in the pocket
  • His effort at the posts is well off, and that's that. Last kick of the game.
  • FT Munster 22 Ulster 20 - Munster  scrape through. Down four times but they pull it out. Ulster killed by their errors at crucial times. Munster were scrappy themselves, but they were clinical when it mattered.  

    A win that rubberstamps a semi-final place. Ulster's unbeaten run is over.

  • Man of the match Keith Earls: "Teams know we are a team who will go for the 70. It was the ideal preparation going into next week.

    We are just delighted to get the win, it was important to get the win and it's an important time of the season coming up."

  • Munster and Leinster both now guaranteed semi-finals. Home advantage not decided yet but things are looking good.  

    Attention turns now to Connacht versus Leinster, a repeat of last year's final. That's at 7.35pm.

    Until then, thanks for joining us. Match report will be on the site shortly, as will the liveblog of the second game.