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Munster scored four tries to comfortably see off the challenge of Ulster in the British and Irish Cup semi-final at Thomond Park.
The Anthony Foley coached team, successful in all five of their pool matches, lived up to their reputation. Foley could not have been more happy.
He said: “I think our first half performance when we were playing against the wind won us the game. It was very physical and our set piece was first class.”
Unsurprisingly, the former Munster and Ireland No 8 was full of praise for Jeremy Manning, who scored two tries. “Jeremy looked very comfortable in the centre.
“He was very exciting on the ball and controlled the defensive line.” As Foley pointed out, Munster effectively had the game won after playing into the wind in the first half. By that stage, they had scored two tries through Manning and scrum-half Duncan Williams.
Ulster rarely managed to put them under pressure, despite having the advantage of the wind. Nor did they help their cause by gifting Munster their opening try after just 11 minutes.
Centre Michael Allen failed to find touch after gathering a kick ahead by Manning under his own posts. To his dismay, his clearance went straight back into the hands of Manning and the Munster centre went over for an unconverted try in the left corner.
Although out-half James McKinney gave Ulster some hope with a penalty to reduce the deficit to 5-3, there were no real signs that Munster were going to lose their grip. Even less so when the home side secured their second try 11 minutes before half time.
This was a superbly worked effort with Munster setting up several phases before Williams jinked through to go over to the right of the posts. Once again, out-half Declan Cusack was narrowly off target with the conversion but he soon compensated in spectacular fashion with a 40 metre penalty into the wind to give Munster a 13-3 interval advantage.
Worse was to follow for Ulster early in the second half. Munster scored a third try, Manning running in from 45 metres after a perfectly timed pass from Williams. When Cusack added the conversion, Munster were 20-3 clear.
That lead was extended to 27-3, the impressive hooker Mike Sherry crashing over for another try which Cusack again converted. Such was Munster’s control, that they could afford to substitute quite a few of their most effective performers, notably prop Dave Ryan and Williams.
Quite rightly, Foley mentioned the contributions of both. “Lots of guys performed out there. Obviously, Manning was very good but so were Mike Sherry, Peter O’Mahony, the two second-rows, and Duncan Williams.
“They were immense. The physicality we brought to our performance was great. Hopefully, we can keep in going now for the final.”
Final Score Munster 27; Ulster, 3.
Tries: Manning (2), Williams, Sherry
Cons: Cusack (2)
Pens: Cusack (1)
Referee – D Phillips (IRFU)
Munster – M Lawler; S Scanlon, D Barnes ( M Kelleher 65), J Manning L O’Dea 74), R O’Mahony; D Cusack, D Williams (C Murray 65); D Ryan (D Kilcoyne 42), M Sherry, S Archer, D Foley, I Nagle, T O’Donnell (D O’Callaghan 69), E Grace (P Butler 59), P O’Mahony (Capt).
Ulster Ravens – D McIlwane; C Cochrane, M Allen (L Marshall 70), J Sheils, T Seymour; J McKinney (M Piper 68), I Porter; P McAllister, N Brady (Capt) (N Annett 63), D Fitzpatrick, N McCoomb, A Linton, A Birch, S Dougal, S La Valla.
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