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Van Graan era ends in a whimper as Ulster ease past Munster

By PA
Munster head coach Johann van Graan, left, and Craig Casey of Munster after the United Rugby Championship Quarter-Final match between Ulster and Munster at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Two first-half tries from full-back Stewart Moore helped Ulster book their place in the United Rugby Championship semi-final after convincingly beating Irish rivals Munster 36-17 at the Kingspan Stadium.

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The home side’s accuracy and skills gave them the result as 100-cap man John Cooney, Nick Timoney and James Hume also touched down in an interprovincial clash which Ulster led 19-7 at half-time.

Cooney kicked three conversions and a penalty as the hosts avenged losing to Munster in Belfast during the regular season.

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Ulster will now face either the Stormers or Edinburgh in the semi-finals, while Munster’s season is over after another quarter-final exit, with Johann van Graan’s tenure coming to a disappointing end.

Nine minutes in, Cooney got on the end of a pass from Hume to score and convert his own effort.

Munster struck back on 18 minutes after the visitors launched a multi-phase attack which ended up with Gavin Coombes held short, before Jean Kleyn collected the ball off his boot to score. Joey Carbery converted and the scores were level.

Ulster then scored a superb try off a line-out when Robert Baloucoune – who had previously landed a try-saving tackle on Carbery – was put through and Ethan McIlroy then offloaded for Moore to touch down after 23 minutes. Cooney again converted.

Moore scored his second after 32 minutes following a strong Iain Henderson carry which prompted Ulster to again put pace and width on the ball. Hume’s long pass gave Moore his chance and he made the corner with the TMO awarding the effort. Cooney missed the extras.

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Two minutes into the second half Ulster had their fourth try, Hume bursting through and drawing the cover before hitting Nick Timoney, whose pace took him clear. Cooney’s conversion made it 26-7.

Coombes then had a charge-down score ruled out by the TMO, but Munster did get on the scoreboard in the 51st minute through a spectacular finish in the corner from Keith Earls, though Carbery failed to convert.

A Henderson turnover gave Cooney a penalty shot which he slotted after 56 minutes. Four minutes later, Hume made his way over the line, with substitute Nathan Doak converting.

Earls ran in for a second with 11 minutes remaining, but the conversion was missed and the game had already got away from Munster.

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Tim 14 hours ago
'It’s a mental thing': Joe Schmidt on the Wallabies' flyhalf issues

Ben Donaldson had not played Super Rugby for the past eight weeks. Surely, he was playing Shute Shield for Randwick in that time to keep up the fitness…?? Eight weeks is a long break to be thrust in against a hungry skillful side like Georgia who deserve to be in the “7 Nations”. (Italy, Wales & Scotland v Georgia, can’t wait to see those ones). In the second test against Wales, Donaldson was put on for nine minutes. That was a mistake from the coaching team, who already knew he was starting the following week against Georgia. They should have put him on for 20-25 minutes, with Nick Whyte at halfback, and their combination from the Force would have flowed. Donaldsons first 20 minutes against Georgia was a shocker. However, well done to Joe Schmidt for keeping him out there because Donaldsons game improved as the rust came off, he was hammered a few times and handled it and he came into his groove. He made mistakes which they will all learn from. Ben Donaldson is a naturally talented rugby player who the Wallabies have to stick with at no.10. “Over the black Dot-aldson” is a good nick name for him with his awesome goal kicking style. It looks as though, off the boot, it’s going to hit the post. Then it just curves in beautifully every time, once he is in the groove. Donaldsons play this season for the Force, with Kurtley and co., was amazing to watch. Kurtley making one of the best comebacks in history. Donaldson has to be played consistently with Flash Gordon, Big LEN, McReight, Tupou, Kellaway. Oh, that’s right, there is Bell, Kerevi, Petaia (This list does go on a bit). Donaldson will be slotting these weapons into gaps, and into the clear, before we know it… One more thing which I will just assume is happening, just include JOC in the Wallabies squad. He is a rugby genius. His skills, wisdom and experience would be infectious around the Wallabies relatively inexperienced backline. JOC has mastered the art of all the positions long ago. JOC is so skilled and match fit atm taking THE REDS, at no.10, within a point of beating Wales. He can come off the bench and slot into the backline for the Wallabies at 10, 12, 13 or 15 at any stage of a test match. Ummm yeah, not bad… I am assuming that BIG JOE, Laurie “Gandalf” Fischer, Mike “The scrum Doctor” Cron and the team obviously already know all this. I am just a passionate rugby union supporter, and I am very happy that these guys are in charge of the coaching duties, what a coaching team the Wallabies have been blessed with. (Good luck with selecting the match day 23 when Will Skelton, who was playing amazing rugby for La Rochelle, and the boys return from Europe/Japan, Samu Kerevi…???) Now just imagine having Bernie Larkham, Toutai Kefu, Nathan Grey and John “Nobody” Eales as your coaching apprentices… GO AUSTRALIAN RUGBY… Doing a great job Phil Waugh, Joe Roff, Dan Herbert and the team. An amazing three years ahead. GO THE WALLABIES… GO THE WALLAROOS… GO THE 7’s in Paris…

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