Red Army bat­tle back but in­juries mar vic­tory

The Rugby Paper - - Guinness Pro12 - ■ By RO­NAN O’BRIEN

WINGER Si­mon Zebo is con­fi­dent Mun­ster will have no prob­lem plug­ging gaps if some big names are miss­ing against Saracens next week­end af­ter a bruis­ing PRO12 vic­tory.

Rory Scan­nell left the field with an an­kle in­jury and Dar­ren Sweet­nam also went for a HIA in their win over Ul­ster. Worse is that the Red Army may be with­out two fit scrum-halves.

Ire­land’s Conor Mur­ray has not played since miss­ing the Six Na­tions match with Wales, and Dun­can Wil­liams failed to make the start­ing line-up here with a tight groin.

Mun­ster were forced to start with An­gus Lloyd at No.9 but Zebo said: “You can just hope that the guys will be back fit, but strength in depth and com­pe­ti­tion for places in our squad is mas­sive.

“If we were re­ly­ing on 23 play­ers each week we wouldn’t be in the po­si­tion we are.”

Mun­ster started slow and the vis­i­tors were first to score when Rory Best crashed over af­ter a rolling maul from a li­ne­out in the fifth minute.

Paddy Jack­son added the ex­tras but Mun­ster were back on level terms mo­ments later af­ter a try from scrum-half Lloyd.

He beat both Charles Pi­u­tau and Paddy Jack­son to score and then Keat­ley tapped over the con­ver­sion for 7-7.

Ul­ster hit back when Jack­son made it two from two from the kick­ing tee but although the Ul­ster scrum started out on top, Mun­ster fought back and forced a penalty at scrum­time.

Keat­ley slot­ted the kick and it was 10-10 at half­time.

Ul­ster al­most took the lead five min­utes into the sec­ond-half but Ja­cob Stock­dale’s try was called back for a for­ward pass. Mo­ments later An­drew Trim­ble broke from mid­field and Ul­ster won a penalty which Jack­son slot­ted for a 13-10 ahead in the 53rd minute.

Some bril­liance from New Zealan­der Fran­cis Saili set up Earls to cross in re­tal­i­a­tion but Luke Mar­shall pun­ished Mun­ster with his side’s sec­ond try be­fore Jack­son pushed Ul­ster five clear.

But Mun­ster came again and Dave O’Callaghan dot­ted down, with Bleyen­daal seal­ing the win.

Ul­ster cap­tain Trim­ble said: “We did a lot of things right, we just weren’t quite clin­i­cal enough in the sec­ond-half.

“In these sort of games when you get op­por­tu­ni­ties you have to take ev­ery one of them.”

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