Munster notched a 24-10 bonus-point victory over Ulster at Thomond Park on Saturday, a result made possible by a last-minute try.
Munster notched a 24-10 bonus-point victory over Ulster at Thomond Park on Saturday, a result made possible by Paul Warwick's last-minute try.
Two tries in each half earned the hosts their maximum, with full-back Warwick getting the crucial fourth try just seconds from the end.
It was a deserved and much-needed victory for Tony McGahan's men, but again they were guilty of some erratic passing which allowed free-running Ulster to remain in contention.
Ulster made the livelier start but could not penetrate the Munster defence and once the early pressure was soaked up, the home side moved up a gear.
Munster opened the scoring, somewhat against the run of play, when lively scrum-half Tomas O'Leary made the break and South African Jean de Villiers popped up in support to take the inside pass and score his first league try.
The seven-point lead lasted a mere three minutes.
Ian Humphreys delightfully chipped over the Munster defence and won the race for the touchdown, just getting his right hand to the ball. The Ulster number 10 added the conversion to tie the game.
When Ronan O'Gara failed to release the ball when tackled and Humphreys landed the penalty, the tide seemed to be turning.
But Munster steadied themselves and David Wallace and Denis Leamy, part of a terrific back row effort, were both held up close to the line.
Seven minutes before the break Wallace was rewarded when the Munster pack drove him over after O'Leary had taken a quick free-kick to the flanker. O'Gara converted to make it 14-10 for Munster at half-time.
It was a slightly flattering scoreline and Ulster almost managed a try just after the resumption. Andrew Trimble led a fantastic break which was only thwarted by some scrambling Munster defence.
Munster clicked back into gear and won an Ulster throw near the visitors' line. The forwards drove upfield and a flat pass from O'Gara sent Keith Earls past Timoci Nagusa in the corner.
After Warwick went close to scoring Munster's fourth try, Ulster began to throw caution to the wind and Darren Cave saw yellow for a poorly-timed mid-air challenge on Ian Dowling as the Munster winger collected a kick.
Munster built pressure again through the forwards and from a last-minute scrum, Leamy picked up and fed O'Leary who sent Warwick in to clinch the bonus point.
Tries: De Villiers, Wallace, Earls, Warwick
Con: O'Gara 3
Munster: 15 Paul Warwick, 14 Ian Dowling, 13 Lifeimi Mafi, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Tomas O'Leary, 8 Denis Leamy, 7 David Wallace, 6 Alan Quinlan, 5 Paul O'Connell (capt), 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Denis Fogarty, 1 Julien Brugnaut.
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Mick O'Driscoll, 19 Niall Ronan, 20 Peter Stringer, 21 Denis Hurley, 22 Felix Jones.
Ulster: 15 Clinton Schifcofske, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Chris Henry, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Ryan Caldwell, 4 Ed O'Donoghue, 3 Brendon Botha, 2 Nigel Brady, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Andy Kyriacou, 17 Bryan Young, 18 Tamaiti Horua, 19 Robbie Diack, 20 Paul Marshall, 21 Ian Whitten, 22 Simon Danielli.
Referee: Alain Rolland (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: D Keane (IRFU), K Beggs (IRFU)
TMO: Tony Redmond (IRFU)