Ulster Ravens came from behind in the second half to deny Munster ‘A’ back to back wins over their northern counterparts. A last minute penalty miss from the men in red saw the hosts hold on to win on a 15-13 scoreline.
Despite a couple of late withdrawals, Mick O’Driscoll included no less than 12 senior representatives – including the likes of Donncha O’Callaghan and JJ Hanrahan – in his matchday squad.
Ravens for their part fielded a mix of youth and experience with players such as Paul Marshall, Stuart McCloskey and Michael Allen selected alongside emerging talents like Frank Taggart and John Andrew.
The late changes for Munster saw David Johnston and John Madigan come into the starting line-up for Ivan Dineen and Paddy Butler respectively with Donnacha Ryan moving from second row to number 6 in facilitating the change.
Munster had the better of the opening exchanges, applying good pressure and forcing the hosts to concede two kickable penalty opportunities for Hanrahan – one for interference in the ruck and the other for going off their feet.
Hanrahan duly landed both to push Munster out to a 0-6 lead after less than ten minutes.
Ulster drew next blood, when, following a great team effort, John Andrew offloaded to his brother Ricky who showed great pace in making it past Munster’s last line of defence for the game’s opening try. With Michael Heaney off target with the touchline conversion, the visitors maintained their lead.
5-6 to the Munster-men at the break.
As they had done in the opening half, Munster started sprightly with Ravens doing well to keep their guests at bay. The pressure would eventually tell and on 50 minutes, an all-senior front row of John Ryan, Niall Scannell and Stephen Archer exploited a creaking Ulster scrum and gave the referee no option other than to award the penalty try. Hanrahan had the easiest of tap overs to give Munster an 8 point lead.
The Ravens scrum would soon shore up and the pack would have their vengeance midway through the second half – blindside Frank Taggart was on hand to touch down from an impressive line-out maul.
Heaney’s conversion made it a one point game and his boot would later give Ravens the lead when Munster went offside in defence, the sin binning of Donncha O’Callaghan also adding to Munster’s woes in the final quarter.
That said, a last minute penalty presented O’Driscoll’s charges with the chance to clinch victory, but Hanrahan was just right with the difficult kick.
Ravens winning out 15-13.