Ulster hand Munster a body blow

02nd Jan 2010, 20:27

Share:

Simon Danielli: Two tries

Simon Danielli: Two tries

Ulster clung on to a 15-10 half-time lead to beat Magners champions Munster in a tense Irish derby at Ravenhill on Saturday.

Ulster clung on to a 15-10 half-time lead to beat Magners champions Munster in a tense Irish derby at Ravenhill on Saturday.

The game, which survived a pitch inspection earlier in the day after overnight frost, was a bruising encounter.

Ulster were at pretty much full strength, with their international quartet of Paddy Wallace, Stephen Ferris, Tom Court and Andrew Trimble back in harness, while Munster were missing all their Ireland front-liners due to injury and this week deployed the Irish Rugby Football Union's player management policy.

The visitors will be pleased with their losing bonus point while Ulster, for whom Simon Danielli scored two tries, will be relieved at the result after failing to register a single score after Danielli's second effort. In fact, neither side managed to score any points in a scrappy second half.

The visitors should have really opened the scoring when skipper Mick O'Driscoll was clear under the posts after three minutes, only for his Ulster counterpart Chris Henry to knock the ball from the Munster man's grasp.

Ulster then made up for their early escape with a 15-point scoring spree over the next 19 minutes, which opened with an Ian Humphreys penalty.

Then Scotland international Danielli bagged two tries, with his first coming from an unexpected source when a Paul Warwick chip ricocheted off Wallace into the Ulster winger's hands and he simply turned and ran in to score.

Humphreys nailed a great conversion and then, virtually from the restart, Danielli was over the line again, this time after Andrew Trimble's burst drew tacklers before he released Danielli, who streaked up the left wing.

Humphreys failed to add the extras but at 15-0 Ulster looked comfortable to kick on again, particularly after Warwick was well short with an admittedly long-range penalty.

But Munster upped the pressure and South Africa international Jean de Villiers scored under the posts after the ball went loose following a Humphreys hit on Lifeimi Mafi that then saw the Ulster fly-half lose the ball after being tackled by Donncha Ryan.

Warwick kicked the conversion and then added a penalty to cut Ulster's lead to 15-10 at half-time.

Ulster nearly scored just short of 50 minutes after Humphreys hacked through but Wallace knocked on at the posts and that was as close as they got to registering points.

Warwick was unlucky to see a 65th-minute penalty come off the uprights and then, after Thomas Anderson knocked on, O'Driscoll spilled the ball again as Munster pushed for a try.

The scorers:

For Ulster:
Tries: Danielli 2
Con: Humphreys
Pen: Humphreys

For Munster:
Try: De Villiers
Con: Warwick
Pen: Warwick

Ulster: 15 Jamie Smith, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Simon Danielli, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Chris Henry (c), 7 Willie Faloon, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Ed O'Donoghue, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Nigel Brady, 1 Tom Court
Replacements: 16 Andy Kyriacou, 17 Declan Fitzpatrick, 18 Ryan Caldwell, 19 T.J. Anderson, 20 Cillian Willis, 21 Niall O'Connor, 22 Timoci Nagusa.

Munster: 15 Denis Hurley, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Lifeimi Mafi, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Ian Dowling, 10 Paul Warwick, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Niall Ronan, 6 Billy Holland, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Mick O'Driscoll (c), 3 Tony Buckley, 2 Damien Varley, 1 Wian du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Mike Sherry, 17 Stephen Archer, 18 Peter O'Mahony, 19 Tommy O'Donnell, 20 Duncan Williams, 21 Scott Deasy, 22 Tom Gleeson.

Referee: Alan Lewis
Assistant referees: Dudley Phillips, Brian MacNeice
Television match official: Alan Rogan