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WATCH: Munster Down to Second After Scarlets Loss | Highlights & Report

Munster came out second best in a low scoring game and are now second best in the table

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Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images

Munster fell to first defeat in 2019 with 10-6 loss to the Scarlets at a rain swept Parc y Scarlets on Saturday.

Johann van Graan’s men have now dropped to second in Conference A as their result coupled with Glasgow Warriors 42-10 win over Zebre has given the Scottish side a three-point lead at the summit.

The reds started well and were rewarded four minutes in when Bill Johnston slotted over a penalty following a collapsed scrum.

However, less than 10 minutes later and the Scarlets scored the games only try, with Leigh Halfpenny having a surging run, before Jonny McNicholl sent a pass to fellow wing Ioan Nicholas went over.

Halfpenny sent over the extras and it was 7-3 after 12 minutes.

The rest of the half was spent in the Scarlets half as they defended resiliently as they only had 20 percent possession in the entire half.

Munster couldn’t find any reward until the dying seconds of the half when Uzair Cassiem was caught offside and Johnston sent over his second penalty of the night. That was the final score of the half, and it was 7-6 to the Scarlets at the interval.

The second-half saw only one score which came after 50 minutes when Halfpenny sent a penalty through the posts to extend the hosts lead.

Munster thought they were over for a try of their own when Jean Kleyn crossed the whitewash only for the TMO to rule it out due to a Rhys Marshell obstruction in the lead-up.

The visitors rallied for a try to secure victory of their own, but the Scarlets defence held out to end Munster’s eight-game unbeaten streak and continue their own incredible home record of only one defeat in Wales since September 2016.

Munster will now have to wait until the 23rd of March to try and regain their status at the top of the conference when they face basement side Zebre.

On the other side, the win leaves the Scarlets in third position in Conference B for now and they will look to build on this win when they face the Cardiff Blues a day before Munster host Zebre.

Match Highlights

Pro14

Munster confirm Zebo signing

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to announce that Simon Zebo has signed a one-year contract to return to play with the province for the 2021/22 season.

This co-funded contract will see Munster’s all-time record try-scorer return from Racing 92 and line out for his home club where he made 144 appearances and scored 60 tries between 2010 and 2018.

In his third season with the Top 14 side, the 31-year-old has played 55 times and scored 21 tries to date.

Head Coach Johann van Graan said, “The opportunity to bring Simon back to Munster came about in early April following a final review of our squad’s budgetary position for season-end and with assistance from the IRFU to support what we believe is a really good deal for Munster and Irish Rugby.

“Simon’s desire to return to Ireland and play with his home club is illustrated by his willingness to sign at a level below his market value elsewhere. This has made bringing the province’s all-time leading try-scorer back home, possible.”

Simon Zebo said, “I am thrilled and honoured to be coming back home to play for Munster. My family and I have been so lucky to have enjoyed three incredible years with Racing 92 in Paris and I cannot thank the team there enough, I really have made friends for life and take with me some brilliant memories.

“However, as everyone knows, Munster holds a very special place in my heart and I’ve always said that I wanted to play for them and potentially Ireland again, so when this opportunity arose the lure of being close to home, family and friends and Munster fans, it outweighed all other options. I cannot wait to get back to the HPC with the team and hopefully a packed Thomond Park.”

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Pro14

Ulster Rugby agree to release Coetzee early

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Marcell Coetzee has played his last game for Ulster Rugby.

With back-row, Marcell Coetzee, currently side-lined with a hamstring injury, Ulster Rugby has agreed terms which will see the player released from the club at the end of this month, ahead of his planned departure at the conclusion of the 2020/21 season.

Given the need for several weeks of rehabilitation following the injury sustained by Coetzee in last month’s Guinness PRO14 fixture against Leinster, Ulster Rugby and the player have reached a mutual agreement to part ways on Friday 30 April.

Head of Rugby Operations and Recruitment, Bryn Cunningham, said: “We have come to an agreement that will allow Marcell the time and space required to continue his rehab.

“I’d like to thank Marcell for his contribution to the province over the past five years and we wish him and wife, Chanelle the very best for their upcoming return home to South Africa.”

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Pro14

Lowry retained at 10 for Ulster v Zebre

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ulster coaching team has named the match-day squad to host Zebre in tomorrow night’s final Guinness PRO14 regular season game (Kingspan Stadium, 8.15pm).

21-year-old, Cormac Izuchukwu will make his first start for the Ulster men as he is named in the second row alongside Kieran Treadwell. Marty Moore comes back into the starting front row at tighthead, with Eric O’Sullivan and John Andrew retaining their starting berths at loosehead and hooker. Jordi Murphy will captain the side at openside flanker, with Sean Reidy and David McCann being retained at blindside and Number Eight.

A youthful back line sees Ethan McIlroy coming into the  back three at full-back, with Rob Lyttle on the left wing and Robert Baloucoune returning on the right. Stewart Moore and James Hume will make up the midfield pairing, while John Cooney and Michael Lowry are named at half-back.

Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor and Matty Rea are the forward reinforcements, with David Shanahan, Ian Madigan and Ben Moxham providing the back line options on the bench.

Ulster team to play Zebre Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 16, Friday 19 March at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 8.15pm, live on Premier Sports / eir Sport):

(15-9) Ethan McIlroy, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle, Michael Lowry, John Cooney;

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, John Andrew, Marty Moore, Cormac Izuchukwu, Kieran Treadwell, Sean Reidy, Jordy Murphy (Capt.), David McCann.

Replacements: Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Matty Rea, David Shanahan, Ian Madigan, Ben Moxham.

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