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Van der Merwe's heroics silence the Twickenham masses

A try for the ages lights up a thrilling opening weekend of Six Nations rugby as Scotland, Ireland and France register away wins

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Frenetic finish sees Ulster hold on for rare away win over Munster

By PA
(Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

A second-half comeback from Munster was not enough as provincial rivals Ulster edged them 15-14 in the URC to win at Thomond Park for the first time since May 2014. Dan McFarland’s men did all their scoring in the first half, James Hume tagging a late score onto maul tries from Jordi Murphy and Tom Stewart for a 15-3 lead.

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Munster had produced a disjointed performance up to that point, but they absorbed Malakai Fekitoa’s sin-binning and Jack Crowley took his tally to three penalties. Crucially, the post prevented the Munster fly-half from converting Shane Daly’s 66th-minute score and the hosts were unable to avoid their fifth successive interprovincial defeat – and third of the current season.

Murphy, a late inclusion for the injured Sean Reffell, rewarded Ulster’s early decision to go for the corner by scoring from a well-executed lineout drive. Crowley closed the gap to 5-3 with his first penalty, punishing Duane Vermeulen for an off-the-ball scuffle with Diarmuid Barron.

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However, the visitors’ maul found another defensive chink and Emerging Ireland hooker Stewart crashed over. The conversion proved too difficult again for Nathan Doak. Advancing from two breakdown steals by Edwin Edogbo, Munster’s lineout and handling unfortunately let them down inside the opposition 22.

Although David McCann was denied a try due to a Doak knock-on, he was soon the victim of a high tackle from Fekitoa which saw him sin-binned. Hume duly added a third unconverted try. Some hair-raising running from John Hodnett then saw Munster improve on the restart, as Crowley ate into the deficit.

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The Cork youngster made it a six-point game in the 54th minute, and Ulster went down to 14 men when replacement Cormac Izuchukwu saw yellow for preventing a quick tap. Simon Zebo made a big impact on his introduction, running hard out to the right where he flicked a pass over Stewart Moore to put Daly over in the right corner. Crowley’s conversion hit the woodwork.

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Despite Munster stopping Ulster from mauling over during a frenetic finish, the home side’s hopes of creating a match-winning score were crushed by a Vermeulen penalty win at the breakdown.

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