Alex Kendellen goes over to score a crucial try for Munster in their win over Ulster at Thomond Park on Saturday night
FOURTEEN-MAN Munster dug deep to grind out a precious 18-13 victory over interprovincial rivals Ulster in a hard fought United Rugby Championship fixture played at a wet Thomond Park on Saturday night.
Munster produced a tenacious backs-to-the-wall display, recovering from the the blow of having Simon Zebo red carded in the opening half, to bounce back to winning ways following their disappointing defeat to Connacht in Galway seven days earlier.
Ulster looked a good bet to record their first win in Limerick since 2014 when leading 7-0 and enjoying a one-man advantage following Zebo's dismissal for a high tackle on Ulster full-back Michael Lowry as early as the 15th minute.
However, Munster, who trailed 6-10 at half-time, rallied strongly in the second half and tries from Mike Haley and crucially from substitute Alex Kendellen in the 74th minute sealed a memorable win before an enthusiastic attendance which was limited to 5000 due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Next up for Munster is a crucial Heineken Champions Cup clash with Castres Olympique in France on Friday night next, 8pm Irish time.
Munster were dealt a blow before kick-off when captain Peter O'Mahony was forced to cry off in the warm-up. He was replaced by Irish international colleague Tadhg Beirne with Alex Kendellen coming into the bench.
Munster trailed by four points at the end of an eventful opening 40 minutes played in very poor conditions.
It was visitors Ulster who got off to the better start when hooker Rob Herring dotted down in the ninth minute from a well-executed maul. John Cooney's conversion made it 7-0 to Ulster.
Munster's task grew significantly bigger in the 15th minute when Simon Zebo was red-carded after his shoulder made contact with Lowry's head.
Two penalties from the boot of young out-half Jack Crowley saw Munster trail by four, 6-10, at half-time.
Alex Kendellen, a late addition to the team because of Peter O’Mahony’s injury in the warm-up, gets his first try for Munster with what proved to be the match-winning score #RTERugby #RTESport #URC #MUNvULS— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) January 8, 2022
Ulster moved 13-6 in front with a 55th minute penalty from substitute Nathan Doak. However, it proved to be their last score of the game.
Tries from Haley on the hour mark, after Ulster lost Kieran Treadwell to a yellow card, and finally Kendellen earned victory for the home side.
Munster down to 14 men against Ulster after Simon Zebo's red card - but only after referee Mike Adamson changes his mind after being talked around by the TMO. #RTERugby #RTESport #URC #MUNvULS— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) January 8, 2022
Substitute Ben Healy converted the second try.
Damian de Allende missed the game for Munster owing to an abdominal injury sustained during the week.
MUNSTER RUGBY: Mike Haley; Seán French, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Simon Zebo; Jack Crowley, Craig Casey; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer; Thomas Ahern, Fineen Wycherley; Tadhg Beirne, John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes. Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, Josh Wycherley, John Ryan, Alex Kendellen, Jack O'Donoghue, Neil Cronin, Ben Healy, Shane Daly.
ULSTER RUGBY: Mike Lowry, Craig Gilroy, Ben Moxham, James Hume, Ethan McIlroy, Billy Burns, John Cooney; Jack McGrath, Rob Herring, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor (CAPT), Sam Carter, Greg Jones, Nick Timoney, Duane Vermeulen. Replacements: John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Ross Kane, Kieran Treadwell, Marcus Rea, Nathan Doak, Angus Curtis, Rob Lyttle.
REFEREE: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
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