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Centre Scannell's drop goal moves Munster into second


Ulster’s Charles Piutau

Ulster’s Charles Piutau

Ulster’s Charles Piutau

Munster centre Rory Scannell struck a dramatic 76th minute drop goal to overcome Ulster at The Kingspan last night.

This was a game in which questions would be answered.

Could Munster take the emotion and focus from last week and use it to their advantage for here on in?

Would Ulster show the damage done to them in Connacht was an exception to their ruling of the PRO12 League.

The leaders went to the air often and early, Paddy Jackson's third contestable ball tapped down by Craig Gilroy for Charles Piutau to stroll home for Jackson to make it a seven-point lead.

The Munster men soon ran into a stonewall defence. Ian Keatley scuffed a penalty and Donnacha Ryan was penalised for side-entry into a ruck.

It began to look like they had a case of white line fever, Scannell, Peter O'Mahony and Jaco Taute all knocking on well inside Ulster's 22.

Then, replacement wing Robert Lyttle turned nothing into everything by darting through Tommy O'Donnell and between Dave Kilcoyne and Ian Keatley for Jackson to double the lead.

The game was invigorated by Darren Sweetnam luring in Robbie Diack before releasing centre Scannell into the right corner to leave it 14-5 at the break.

Munster centre Taute forced a penalty out of Luke Marshall only for Keatley to miss his target for the third time. Marshall had to be alert to cut down Sweetnam on a Munster breakaway.

It was Taute who crashed over from an increasingly dominant maul and a series of pick-and-jams. Scannell's extras reduced the gap to two points in the 65th minute.

Munster worked their way into position for Scannell to snap up the winning points.