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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 November, 2004, 19:11 GMT
Ulster 3-24 Munster
CELTIC LEAGUE
Ulster's Neil Best prepares to take on Munster's Paul Burke
Ulster (0) 3:
Pen: . Larkin.
Munster (8) 24:
Tries: Lawlor.
Pens: Burke 4.
Cons: Burke
Att: 6402
An extremely short-staffed Munster side remained in the top four of the Celtic League by completely outplaying a disjointed Ulster side at Ravenhill.

With 11 first-choice players absent Munster still easily controlled a game that barely rose above the mediocre.

Fly-half Paul Burke kicked 14 points for Munster while wingers Mossie Lawlor and Shaun Payne scored tries.

Ulster's only reply from an inept performance was a solitary penalty by stand-in fly-half Adam Larkin.

It was Munster's first victory at Ravenhilll for four years and they deserved their slender first-half lead by completelydominating the possession.

It took a penalty in the 14th minute by Burke to finally trouble the scoreboard after Ulster skipper Andy Ward was pulled up for a swinging arm.

Defences, and a very pedantic referee, dominated the opening period with neither side able to get any rhythm into their play.

It took a mistake for the opening try of the game in first-half injury time when a speculative long pass by Adam Larkin was caught by Mossie Lawlor on his own ''22'' and he sprinted along the touchline to the try line.

Ulster did produce their best piece of action coming up to the break, but the Munster defence were resolute.

Larkin did narrow the leeway in the 48th minute with a penalty, but with Ulster's line-out failing to function, it was difficult to find a real foothold in enemy territory.

Munster, however, just played the basics and played them well, and on three visits to Ulster territory Burke rifled over three penalties.

The second half was as unspectacular as the first with Munster, and particularly Ulster, making too many errors.

It was Munster who ended with a rapier thrust as Burke's pin-point cross-field kick was pouched by Payne to romp in unopposed.

It was Ulster's fourth successive defeat at their once ''Fortress Ravenhill'' and the word panic is now beginning to be taken seriously as they continue sit just above bottom side Borders in the competition.


Ulster: B Cunningham; T Bowe, J Bell, P Steinmetz, T Howe; A Larkin, N Doak; S Best, P Shields, R Moore, R Frost, M McCullough, A Ward (Capt), N Best, C Feather.
Replacements: R Best, R McCormack, G Longwell, G Brown, K Campbell, S Mallon, A Maxwell.

Munster: C Cullen; S Payne, J Storey, J Holland, M Lawler; P Burke, M Predergast; F Roche, J Flannery, G McIlwham, D O'Callaghan, T Hogan, A Quinlan, D Wallace, D Leamy.
Replacements: J Blaney, E McGovern, T Bowman, S Keogh, E Reddan, M Mullins, J Kelly.

Referee: Nigel Whitehouse (WRU)


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