Munster maintain winning start with victory over Ulster
Conor Murray celebrated his British and Irish Lions selection with a try in Munster’s 38-10 Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup thumping of Ulster at Thomond Park.
Rory Scannell and Mike Haley also touched down to make it 19-3 at half-time, the latter score coming after Ulster’s Will Addison was sent off for a high tackle.
Ulster captain Iain Henderson snapped back with an early second-half score, but a dominant Munster made it back-to-back victories as Scannell, JJ Hanrahan and Andrew Conway made it a six-try success.
Tadhg Beirne, the second of Munster’s 2021 Lions, was slow to roll away, allowing Michael Lowry to kick the visitors ahead from a second-minute penalty.
Ulster showed early dynamism in midfield, with Addison and Stuart McCloskey both making yards, but Munster conjured up the game’s opening try.
After getting involved with Addison to spark a short-lived brawl, Rory Scannell then popped up with a clever dummy to score in the 10th minute. A monster carry by Gavin Coombes had set up the seven-pointer.
A swift outside break had the returning Dan Goggin inches away before Murray flopped over from a 26th-minute ruck. Hanrahan missed the difficult conversion from the left.
Ulster openside Marcus Rea’s relieving penalty denied Coombes at close range, and although Hanrahan missed a subsequent penalty, Munster’s pace and penetration earned them further opportunities.
Approaching the interval, a TMO review ended with Addison seeing red for a late and high hit which made contact with Shane Daly’s head. Poor Ulster tackling then allowed Haley to speed over from replacement Damian De Allende’s short pass.
Five Ulster replacements at the break saw them build immediate pressure, with 2021 Lion Henderson muscling over following a series of pick-and-goes. Lowry’s converted cut the gap to 19-10.
However, that was as close as Dan McFarland’s men could get to their in-form rivals. Centre Scannell intercepted a Lowry pass for a 45-metre run-in for the bonus point with 54 minutes on the clock.
Scannell turned provider five minutes later, sending Hanrahan scampering over for a slick try from the edge of the Ulster 22. The fly-half also converted to complete his 13-point haul.
Munster’s smothering defence thwarted Ulster from a series of opportunities, including mauls. Even when skipper Peter O’Mahony was sin-binned for repeated penalties, a clever Scannell kick found an unmarked Conway for a closing 78th-minute try.
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