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Munster Go Top of Conference A with Benetton Win

Munster have gone top of Conference A for at least tonight after fending off a dogged Benetton side

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Munster secured a hard-fought 37-28 win in Treviso over Benetton to go to the summit of Conference A on Friday night.

The win puts Munster two points ahead of Glasgow Warriors for tonight at least as the Scottish side face Leinster on Saturday.

The home side got off to the better start with Tomasso Allan slotting over an early penalty to settle the nerves. After seven minutes Benetton were 10-0 up as Ratuva Tavuyarto broke the line before Tomasso Benvenuti touched down. Allan kicked the extras.

Munster responded immediately through Rhys Marshall after he received a lovely pass from scrum-half Alby Mathewson. JJ Hanrahan knocked over the conversion to make it 10-7.

After 12 minutes the men in red were ahead as Dan Goggin scored under the posts and Hanrahan again slotted home the extra two to leave it at 14-10 to the away side.

The game slowed down a little after the energetic start, with Allan kicking two penalties and Hanrahan scoring one to make it 17-16 to Munster come the 25th minute.

However, Benetton went into half-time with the lead with Jayden Hayward breaking away and Monty Ioane getting in for the try on 38 minutes. Allan couldn’t push them ahead any further as he missed his conversion to leave the score at 21-17 come the whistle.

Benetton started the second-half where they left off. They were awarded a penalty try four minutes into the half after Darren Sweetnam deliberately knocked-on the ball. Sweetnam was sent to the bin for 10 minutes following the incident.

Although they had the man advantage the hosts failed to capitalise, as Munster scored a penalty five minutes later through Hanrahan to make it 28-20.

Benvenuti was then shown yellow for the home side for a high tackle on Stephen Archer in the 52nd minute.

Munster took full advantage with Hanrahan kicking another penalty two minutes later before Shane Daly scored in the corner to pull them level. Hanrahan’s perfect kick meant they went into the lead once more at 30-28 with a quarter of the match remaining.

Hanrahan was at the thick of things again when he broke through the Benetton defence and Alby Mathewson was on hand to finish the move. A seventh kick from seven for man of the match Hanrahan stretched the lead out to 37-28.

The final 12 minutes where spent in the Munster half as Benetton went in search of a score, but they were unable to break through as it finished 37-28.

The win puts Munster first in Conference A with one game to go in the regular season having played a game more than second-placed Glasgow. It also gives the side another confidence boost before their crunch clash with Saracens in the Champions Cup semi-finals next weekend. On the other hand, the loss means Benetton head into the final round of fixtures a point ahead of Edinburgh in Conference B as they hope to secure the last play-off spot in the conference.

Pro14

Dan McFarland extends stay with Ulster for a further two years

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ulster Rugby Head Coach, Dan McFarland, has renewed his commitment to the province by signing a new two-year contract extension.

Since joining the club in August 2018, Ulster has regularly competed at the knock-out stages of both the Guinness PRO14 and Heineken Champions Cup, including at the most recent Guinness PRO14 final – a first for the province in seven years. 

Of his contract renewal, Dan McFarland, said:

“I’m delighted to be signing again with Ulster. I have thoroughly enjoyed the last two and a half years working and learning with some really good people, and I’m looking forward to continuing to help drive on our improvement as a group and as individuals.

“As a group, we are extremely ambitious in our aim to be consistently competing for championships. With exciting young talent continuing to emerge out of our Academy system, joining forces with the proven talent within our squad – many of whom have been recently recognised at international level – I look forward to what the weeks and months ahead hold as we take on our next challenges in the domestic league and in Europe this season.”

Ulster Rugby CEO, Jonny Petrie, added:

“I’m extremely pleased to see Dan extend his commitment to Ulster Rugby, giving us the opportunity to continue to build on the fantastic work that he has done in his time here so far.

“It is plain to see, both on and off the field of play, the ethos that he has instilled in the group, and that is being borne out both in our performances and our results – a team of which the people of Ulster can be rightly and fiercely proud.  

“I’m looking forward to working with Dan in the coming years, to see where we can take this. It’s an exciting prospect.”

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Pro14

Ulster & Leinster announce teams for huge Inter-Pro Clash

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ulster match-day squad has been named to face Leinster at the RDS Arena tomorrow evening (7.35pm kick-off).  

The team sees six changes to the side that defeated Munster at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday. Michael Lowry comes in to start at full-back and is joined on the wings by Matt Faddes and last weekend’s Player-of-the-Match, Ethan McIlroy. Stuart McCloskey and James Hume will form the midfield duo, and in the half-backs, John Cooney will partner Billy Burns.  

Andrew Warwick and Marty Moore are named at loosehead and tighthead prop, with Rob Herring completing the front row at hooker. Alan O’Connor comes in to pair with captain Sam Carter in the second row. Greg Jones, Jordi Murphy and Marcell Coetzee make up the starting back row forwards.  

John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell and Nick Timoney will provide forward reinforcements off the bench. David Shanahan, Ian Madigan and Ben Moxham will offer back line cover.   

Ulster team to play Leinster Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 11, Friday 8 January at the RDS Arena (kick-off 7.35pm, live on Premier Sports / eir Sport):

(15-9) Michael Lowry, Matt Faddes, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Ethan McIlroy, Billy Burns, John Cooney. 

(1-8) Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter (Capt.), Greg Jones, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee.  

Replacements: John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Nick Timoney, David Shanahan, Ian Madigan, Ben Moxham.  

The Leinster Rugby team, as sponsored by Bank of Ireland, to face Ulster Rugby in the RDS Arena in Round 11 of the Guinness PRO14 has been announced by Leo Cullen (KO 7.35pm live on eir Sport and RTÉ Radio).

Johnny Sexton will captain the team as a number of players return from injury for the top of Conference A clash.

Hugo Keenan is selected at full back with Jordan Larmour back after a shoulder injury to start on the right wing and Dave Kearney selected on the left.

Robbie Henshaw starts in the inside centre jersey with Ross Byrne starting outside him in the number 13 jersey for the first time in his Leinster senior career.

In the half-backs, Jamison Gibson-Park is joined by captain Johnny Sexton.

Cian Healy starts at loosehead prop with Andrew Porter at tighthead, while Seán Cronin makes his first start of the season at hooker after recovering from a thumb injury.

Former Australian international Scott Fardy is joined by James Ryan in the second row while, in the back row, fit-again Rhys Ruddock starts with Josh van der Flier at openside and Caelan Doris at number eight.

On the bench, Harry Byrne returns from a back injury picked up in the warm-up before the Northampton Saints game.

Team News from Ulster Rugby & Leinster Rugby

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Pro14

Ulster to welcome 1,000 fans for Scarlets clash

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(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Ulster Rugby last night announced that 1,000 supporters will be welcomed to the Kingspan Stadium this weekend. Statement from Ulster Rugby below:

The doors of Kingspan Stadium will open to 1,000 supporters this weekend when Ulster Rugby welcome Scarlets in Round 7 of the Guinness PRO14 (Sunday 22 November, kick-off 7.35pm).

The Ulster Men have played behind closed doors since the opening game of the season against Benetton Rugby when the club successfully trialled the safe return of spectators following extensive consultation with the IRFU, Belfast City Council and the Northern Ireland Executive.

All 500 pairs of tickets will be made available to #TogetherUlster Members only via an online ballot process. Members who applied for tickets to the Benetton match but missed out due to limited availability will receive priority in the ballot.

Sunday night’s match will feature a mix of seating and terracing in operation across all four stands and the East Terrace. Tickets are again priced at £20 each, allocated in groups of two with two-metre physical distancing factored in.

The online ballot will be open for 24 hours from 1pm on Tuesday 17 November on the Ulster Rugby Ticket Account Manager, and account holders can apply for one pair of tickets per every Adult #TogetherUlster Membership held. All successful applicants will be notified on Wednesday evening once the ballot has closed and tickets have been allocated. Members will then have until 1pm on Thursday 19 November to confirm their ticket purchase and process payment.

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