Ulster run Munster ragged
December 30, 2011
Ian Humphreys bagged one of four Ulster tries
© Getty Images
Ulster catapulted themselves into play-off contention with a 33-17 victory over Munster at Ravenhill on Friday night.
Ian Humphreys ended the night with 15 of the home side's points - from a try, two conversions and two penalties. His efforts supplemented first-half tries from Stefan Terblanche and John Afoa, with Ruan Pienaar crossing after the break.
Ulster opened the scoring with a Humphreys penalty on six minutes, after Munster were caught offside when chasing an Ian Keatley up and under. It was the visitors who crossed the line first after some muscular work from Stephen Archer, Mick O'Driscoll and Ian Nagle saw the ball delivered to Keatley, whose cross-kick to the unmarked Luke O'Dea helped the young winger make it in at the right corner.
Referee Alain Rolland went upstairs to the TMO but the try was awarded and Keatley then nailed a great conversion to give Munster a 7-3 lead after only 13 minutes.
Seven minutes later a Humphreys penalty narrowed Munster's lead to a single point before a great Darren Cave break put Terblanche into space and the former Springbok winger, on his first starting appearance for Ulster since arriving as a temporary replacement for the injured Jared Payne, slid in at the left corner.
Humphreys added the conversion and Ulster led 13-7 after 25 minutes, only for Keatley to narrow the gap with a penalty that crept in off the post.
Ulster struck next, when Terblanche broke into Munster's half. A great handling movement allowed him to pop up again from Paddy McAllister's pass and though the veteran South African was held, the ball was recycled and the former All Black Afoa crashed over.
Four minutes after the restart Ulster struck again - this time after Munster had won a free-kick from a lineout and opted for the scrum. Ulster put in a huge shove and Willie Faloon forced the ball loose. Humphreys hacked it through and managed to follow up to score to the right of the posts.
Having added the extras, Humphreys then saw a 49th-minute penalty rebound off the post and stay out, although Ulster grabbed their bonus point score five minutes later. The try came from a disrupted scrum, with Chris Henry this time burying Duncan Williams to allow Ruan Pienaar to pick up and run in from just inside the Munster half. Humphreys missed the difficult conversion from the left corner but Ulster led 30-10.
The game then lost its pattern as both sides began to empty their benches, although a worrying sign for Ulster was McAllister being helped from the field just after the hour mark. Humphreys was also removed from the action just before the 70-minute mark, which saw Pienaar move to outside-half.
The South African then took over the kicking duties and slotted a 74th-minute effort to stretch Ulster's lead to 33-10. Munster's Johne Murphy crept over for a consolation score right at the death, which Keatley converted.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September