Ulster beat Munster 22-16 at Thomond Park in the Heineken Cup quarter final to condemn Munster to only their second ever defeat at home in the European competition.
Ulster’s South African scrum half Ruan Pienaar was on top form as kicked 6 out of 7 kicks over the bar while a brilliant individual try from Craig Gilroy put the away side well in front in the first half.
Simon Zebo scored Munster’s only try and Ronan O’Gara got the remainder of the home side’s points but it wasn’t enough to catch Ulster, whose defence stood strong in the second half.
Ulster started the game the brighter team and Pienaar put them ahead with just five minutes gone with a long range penalty.
Munster couldn’t get going and ill-discipline was their biggest downfall; a problem which Pienaar was happy to punish them for with his kicks as he doubled Ulster’s lead with another penalty from distance in the 10th minute.
Gilroy’s excellent try came in the 16th minute when he received the ball over 50 metres from Munster’s line and proceeded to dodge tackle after tackle with his run from the left wing and successfully touched down to put breathing space between his side and Munster.
Pienaar converted the try and three minutes later made it 16-0 with another long range penalty.
Munster tried to respond but their attack was stifled by Ulster who gave them no space to play into; Munster were reduced to attempted chips by Ronan O’Gara which didn’t come off.
Ulster extended their lead in the 32nd minute with a well taken drop goal from Ian Humphries, who had a mixed start but made amends with those three points.
Two minutes later Munster finally got on the scoreboard after they caught Ulster defending narrowly; the home side’s backline stretched the play across the pitch which allowed Simon Zebo to go over for five points.
O’Gara converted the try and Munster’s fortunes seemed to be changing when Chris Henry was sin binned for Ulster after failing to release the ball carrier on the ground.
Munster finished the half on a high when they were awarded a penalty which O’Gara took well to end the first half 19-10 to the away side.
Munster had the better chances in the opening minutes of the second half; O’Gara missed a long range penalty but made up for it two minutes later with a successful penalty from just in front of the posts.
Ulster looked slightly rattled in the second half as they could feel Munster coming back into the game and the away side continually gave the ball away too easily or failed with their kicks to touch.
Despite Munster’s dominance, they could not make enough of a difference on the scoreboard and Ulster were the next team to score in the 59th minute with another penalty from Pienaar.
Munster hit straight back with a penalty a minute later to put the score to 22-16 with 20 minutes to play.
The next 10 minutes were all Munster but they still failed to really trouble the Ulster defence which refused to be breached.
Two opportunities fell to Ulster to end the game in the closing 10 minutes but Humphries’ drop goal attempt hit the post and Pienaar unusually fluffed his lines from a penalty.
It didn’t matter however as Munster were unable to mount a meaningful attack and the referee blew the final whistle to the delight of the Ulster players, management and fans who recorded a historic victory at Thomond Park.
Munster’s slow start cost them in the end and the accuracy of Ruan Pienaar’s kicking was too difficult for the home team to overcome.
|1 from 1||Conversion goals||1 from 1|
|3 from 4||Penalty goals||4 from 5|
|80.0%||Kick at goal success||83.3%|
|0||Dropped goals||1 (1 missed)|
|21||Kicks from hand||25|
|461||Metres run with ball||204|
|132 from 139 (95.0%)||Rucks won||41 from 44 (93.2%)|
|2 from 2 (100.0%)||Mauls won||2 from 3 (66.7%)|
|88.7%||Tackling success rate||92.5%|
|10 won, 0 lost (100.0%)||Scrums on own feed||7 won, 0 lost (100.0%)|
|7 won, 0 lost (100.0%)||Lineouts on own throw||8 won, 1 lost (88.9%)|