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Munster Go Top with Scrappy Win in Wales

The Irish province record 10th win of the season and reclaim top spot from Glasgow Warriors

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Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images

Munster came out with a narrow 8-7 win against the Dragons in a rain-soaked Rodney Park on Saturday.

Both teams were missing a large number of international players due to 6 Nations duties, with Munster making 13 changes from the team that bet Exeter 9-7 last weekend.

The inexperience of the teams coupled with the rain ensured a scrappy game throughout with Munster needing a late Jean Kleyn try to secure the win.

The Dragons started the better of the two with early pressure resulting in a try for Lloyd Fairbrother in the 14th minute. Josh Lewis converted from the spot and handed the Welsh side a deserved 7-0 lead a quarter of an hour in.

The next score didn’t come until the half hour mark with Bill Johnston slotting home a penalty for the away side to leave the score at 7-3 in the Dragons favour come half-time.

After the break the stop, start pattern continued in the rain.

The turning point came in the 56th minute when Dragons lock Matthew Screech was handed a yellow card after pulling down a ruck, following a period of sustained Munster pressure.

Munster failed to take their chances until the 63rd minute with Jean Kleyn touching down over the line. With the score at 8-7 the conversion was missed, and Munster had to hold out.

That they did with Lewis missing a late penalty opportunity to win the game for the Dragons.

After the game, Munster head coach Johann van Graan praised his young team and pointed to their outstanding work in the line-out as they won all of their 18 throws.

“I want to make a special mention for the whole squad,” he said. “They are the future of Munster. Scrum and line-out wise I’ll take that performance any day of the week,” he added.

Captain Tyler Bleyendaal also mentioned his delight with the win and the performance of the young players around him.

“This was a young team with a lot of changes so this game was a new learning for a lot of them. I was happy with how we stuck at it and ground out a win,” he said.

The win puts Munster back at the top of conference A on 48 points, two ahead of Glasgow Warriors, who were top momentarily following their 9-3 win over Ospreys earlier in the weekend.

There is a break over the next couple of weekends for the provinces, with Munster hosting the Kings next on February 15th and will be looking to continue their run at the top.

Match Highlights:

Pro14

Ulster Youngster commits for 3 Years.

Rob Lyttle signs 3-year contract extension

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Photo By John Dickson/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ulster Rugby wing, Rob Lyttle, has committed his future to the province for a further three years, keeping him at Kingspan Stadium until at least 2023.

22-year-old Lyttle has been in excellent form this season, starting four of Ulster’s six Guinness PRO14 games so far, and scoring a try in the home win over Zebre in Round 5.

The Donaghcloney native played mini rugby at Dromore RFC before attending RBAI, where he featured in the 2013 Danske Bank Schools’ Cup Final as a 5th year.

A product of the Abbey Insurance Ulster Rugby Academy, Rob made a memorable Ulster senior debut in September 2016 with two tries against Dragons, and has developed a knack for finding the try line ever since, touching down 11 times in his 27 appearances to date.

Commenting on the contract extension, Ulster Head Coach, Dan McFarland, said, “It is great news for the club and our supporters that Rob has become the latest young talent to commit his future to Ulster.

“Rob is another great example of a home grown player who has been developed through the club and schools system in Ulster, before refining his game through our performance pathway and going on to represent the club with distinction at professional level.

“The back three is an area where we have a good mix of seasoned experience and exciting young prospects, so I’m looking forward to watching Rob continue to develop his game and also drive the standards of those around him in challenging for places.”

Lyttle said of the deal,

“I have grown up supporting Ulster, and I have relished the opportunity to represent my home province, so it was an easy decision for me to commit my future here. I believe Ulster are building something special and I’m really excited about playing a part in the club’s future.”

Press Release from Ulster Rugby

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Pro14

Leinster Smash Connacht for Another Win

Leinster have continued their winning start to the season with another fantastic performance, this time away to Connacht

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(Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster have made it six wins in a row at the start of the PRO14 season with a 42-11 victory over Connacht at the Sportsgrounds tonight.

A brace of tries from front-rowers Andrew Porter and Ronan Kelleher along with a scores from Ross Byrne and James Lowe saw the reigning champions ease to victory over their western rivals. 

The hosts got off to the perfect start, taking the lead four minutes in as returning Irish international Jack Carty knocked over a penalty to make it 3-0. 

However, their lead was short lived as one of Leinster’s returning stars Porter barrelled over from close range to put the boys in blue ahead. Byrne made no mistake adding the extras to make it 7-3. 

Just before the quarter-hour mark and the away side were further ahead as they camped in the Connacht 22 before hooker Kelleher finished off some great work from a line-out. Byrne slotted over the conversion to push Leinster 14-3 ahead. 

Connacht cut into the lead straight after the restart through the boot of Darragh Leader who kicked their second penalty of the game. 

Although their fight-back was shut down right away by Leinster, who again showed their forward power as Kelleher went over with the help of captain Scott Fardy for his second try of the night off another line-out. Byrne made it three from three from the tee to extend the lead once again. 

It took only another ten minutes for Leinster to secure the bonus-point as Porter went over for his second try of the game after a TMO check. Byrne knocked over another two-points to give Leinster a 28-6 advantage at the half-hour mark. 

On 34 minutes things got even better for the eastern province as Byrne added to his personal tally with a lovely five-pointer of his own, slicing through the defence with a fake-pass before touching down. He converted his own try to stretch the score out to 35-6, which is how it stayed come the half-time whistle. 

Both teams came out of the blocks quickly in the second period but it was Connacht who struck first as Carty sent a cross-field kick over to Stephen Fitzgerald on the left-wing and the winger did the rest, racing over for his side’s first try of the game. Carty couldn’t add the extras but it showed great spirit from the hosts. 

Leinster put pressure on Connacht over the next 20 minutes, remaining in the opposition 22 for most of it, but they couldn’t find a way over. However, that changed with little over 10 minutes remaining as Lowe intercepted a pass inside his own half and darted to the try-line for his side’s sixth try. Bryne continued his 100% kicking-rate from the tee adding the simple extras in front of the posts. 

Connacht tried to get another consolation try but they couldn’t break through a solid Leinster defence as it finished up 42-11. 

The win means Leinster remain top of Conference A with 29-points out of a possible 30 at the start of the season, while the loss will be a big disappointment for the hosts who went into the game in good form. Leinster will host Benetton next Saturday in the opening round of this season’s Champions Cup, while Connacht welcome French Top 14 side Montpellier to the Sportsground on the Sunday.

Leinster Player Ratings

Starting XV:

Hugo Keenan (7), Adam Byrne (7), Jimmy O’Brien (8), Joe Tomane (7), James Lowe (8), Ross Byrne (9), Luke McGrath (7); Cian Healy (8), Ronan Kelleher (9), Andrew Porter (9), Devin Toner (7), Scott Fardy (7), Josh Murphy (7), Will Connors (8), Max Deegan (8)

Replacements (7)

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Munster v Ulster | Team News

Inter-Pro Weekend

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Munster face Ulster at Thomond Park on Saturday evening in the first Interpro derby of the season with the majority of the province’s World Cup players set to return for the clash (5.15pm).

Peter O’Mahony captains Munster with eight of Munster’s Rugby World Cup contingent set to feature at Thomond Park.

Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, O’Mahony and CJ Stander all start with Conor Murray among the replacements.

JJ Hanrahan, Alby Mathewson and Chris Cloete keep their places in the side after helping Munster to a bonus-point win away to Cardiff Blues last week as Munster make 12 changes.

Academy winger Liam Coombes makes his second Munster start with Mike Haley and Conway completing the back three.

Mathewson and Hanrahan continue their half-back partnership with Rory Scannell and Farrell in the centres.

James Cronin, Scannell and Ryan pack down in the front row with Kleyn and Billy Holland in the engine room.

O’Mahony, Cloete and Stander are named in the back row.

Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Liam Coombes; JJ Hanrahan, Alby Mathewson; James Cronin, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony (C), Chris Cloete, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Jeremy Loughman, Kevin O’Byrne, Stephen Archer, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue, Conor Murray, Tyler Bleyendaal, Arno Botha.

Dan McFarland has switched things up with seven changes from the side that defeated Zebre last Friday, Irish internationals Jacob Stockdale and Jordi Murphy will make their first appearances this season.
In the back three, Matt Faddes switches to full-back and is joined by the returning Stockdale and Rob Lyttle on the left and right wings respectively.

Stuart McCloskey is re-called to join last week’s Man-of-the-Match, Luke Marshall in midfield. Angus Curtis will make his first start for Ulster this season at fly-half and is joined by John Cooney at scrum-half, who made his 50th appearance last time out against Zebre.

Among the four changes in the forwards, Marty Moore returns to make his first start of the season at tighthead, joining Jack McGrath at loosehead and captain Rob Herring to make up an all international front row. Sam Carter comes back in to join Alan O’Connor in the second row.

Joining Murphy will be Sean Reidy at blindside, and Nick Timoney switches to assume the number eight position, completing the back row. 
In the replacements, Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell and Matthew Rea will provide forward cover. David Shanahan, Bill Johnston and Robert Baloucoune – who is also set to make his seasonal bow – make up the back-line reinforcements. 

Ulster team to play Munster Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 6, Saturday 9 November at Thomond Park (kick-off 5:15pm):
(15-9) Matt Faddes, Rob Lyttle, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Angus Curtis, John Cooney.
(1-8) Jack McGrath, Rob Herring (Capt.), Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter, Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy, Nick Timoney.
Replacements: Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Matthew Rea, David Shanahan, Bill Johnston, Robert Baloucoune.

Did you know?
Munster are unbeaten in their last 24 home games in all tournaments

Match Officials
Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU, 28th competition game)Assistant Referees: Rob O’Sullivan (IRFU), Paul Haycock (IRFU)TMO: Simon McDowell (IRFU)

Broadcast
Live on eir sport 1, Premier Sport 2, DAZN, PRO14.tv.

Munster Press Conference:

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