Late try earns Ulster draw

Date published: May 9 2015

Paul Marshall's last-gasp converted try earned Ulster a 23-23 draw with Pro12 play-off rivals Munster at the Kingspan Stadium.

Munster looked to have won it thanks to Keith Earls' late try, but when that was not converted, it left Ulster within seven points, and Marshall crossed, with Paddy Jackson converting, to nick the draw.

Ian Keatley's kicking had kept Munster in the game, with six penalties, while Ulster led narrowly at the break thanks to Tommy Bowe's converted score.

But after Iain Henderson was sent off seven minutes from time, it looked like Munster were going to sneak the win and take a giant step towards a home semi-final.

It was Munster who got themselves onto the scoresheet first in front of a packed Kingspan crowd, Keatley kicking an early penalty.

The game didn't produce any more points for a lengthy amount of time after that, but remained an enthralling affair.

Both sides took it in turns to have real spells of pressure, but couldn't properly form attacks that troubled either try line. Ulster could not quite get their scrums right in the first half, referee Nigel Owens having to break up a series for what he deemed infringements by the hosts, and half an hour in one of those allowed Keatley to doubled Munster's lead.

Henderson was then penalised and the ever reliable Keatley made it three from three as Munster took hold of the game before half-time.

But Jackson was finally given his first chance to give the hosts something to celebrate when he had a kick from distance, and he made no mistake a minute before the break.

And unbelievably, seconds later Ulster went over for the games first try. Henderson's backhand offload fell to Bowe, who side-stepped two challenges before steaming over as Ulster took the lead, Jackson's conversion putting them a point in front.

Five minutes into the second half and Jackson struck for the third time after Munster were penalised for blocking, but Keatley kept his 100% record up too, putting a point in it after a penalty advantage was played.

The incredible battle between the two was unsurprisingly the main talking point of the game, and the Munster fly-half put them back into the lead with his fifth kick of the afternoon.

And Keatley continued his kicking masterclass when he struck again, crucially putting the lead up to five points as Munster continued to grab a hold of the game with just ten minutes left. Not that Jackson let that bother him, as he took advantage of a lazy offside to kick us back into just a two-point game.

But then came a crucial moment inside the last five minutes. Henderson was issued with the red card following a dangerous clearout on Ronan O'Mahony, a decision that proved crucial from the next Munster attack.

Earls grabbed the visitors' first try after Felix Jones' huge pass put him away in the corner. But when Keatley missed the conversion, Ulster still held hope of securing the draw.

In an incredible final five minutes, Ulster did somehow go up the other end and give themselves that opportunity. After winning a lineout in the Munster 22, Marshall drove over to put the hosts within two points.

Jackson was left with the task of securing the draw for Ulster, and he of course sent the kick through to ensure the points were shared in a pulsating game.

The scorers:

For Ulster:
Bowe, Marshall
Cons: Jackson 2
Pens: Jackson 3
Red card: Henderson

For Munster:
: Earls
Pens: Keatley 6

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Darren Cave, 11 Peter Nelson, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Francois van der Merwe, 4 Dan Tuohy, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Callum Black
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Bronson Ross, 19 Robbie Diack, 20 Clive Ross, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Ian Humphreys, 23 Stuart McCloskey

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Denis Hurley, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Peter O'Mahony (c), 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Duncan Casey, 17 John Ryan, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Jack O'Donoghue, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Ronan O'Mahony

Venue: Kingspan Stadium, Belfast
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Dudley Phillips (Ireland), Nigel Correll (Ireland)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)