Red Army battle back but injuries mar victory
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.”