RaboDirect Pro12 - Ulster go top after derby win over Munster

Ulster just shaded the first Irish derby of the RaboDirect PRO12 season, beating Munster 20-19 in a hard fought encounter to go top of the table and stretch their winning run to three games.

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RaboDirect Pro12 - Ulster go top after derby win over Munster

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Andrew Trimble

In a pulsating end, Ulster's blanket defence held out at wave after wave of Munster attacks as 23 phases were repelled.

Replacement Ronan O'Gara was unwilling and then unable to get within range to win the game with a trademark drop goal which saw Rob Penney's men fall to their first defeat.

Five penalties from Paddy Jackson along with an excellent try from man of the match Jared Payne got Ulster home in a game where they trailed Munster by 10 points towards the end of the first half.

But they fought back to hold the lead by a solitary point on two occasions, the second time seeing them hold out for the last 13 minutes for four valuable points on Stephen Ferris' 100th appearance for Ulster.

Ian Keatley got Munster under way with a second minute penalty after a Nick Williams turnover had put Andrew Trimble under pressure near his own line.

The Munster outside half then bagged a second shot five minutes later from longer range after Lewis Stevenson was penalised for holding on at a ruck.

The visitors stretched their lead to nine points with a 12th minute Keatley drop goal after good approach work from his pack.

Ulster had to respond and surges from Darren Cave and Sean Doyle saw Munster infringe and Jackson made no mistake from the tee.

They really should have scored three minutes later after a great break from Payne ultimately came to nothing when Paul Marshall could not hold Trimble's hard pass off the ground.

Payne made ground along the right wing just before the half hour mark and from a subsequent scrum, Munster were penalised but Jackson's penalty struck the upright and stayed out.

He made amends on 34 minutes after Munster strayed offside but then Ulster kicked high from the restart.

The visitors immediately countered at pace with substitute Keith Earls involved twice in a move that swept left and right before the Ireland international scored near the right corner.

Keatley converted to give Munster a 10-point lead at 16-6 which Jackson managed to narrow with a penalty as the half's final act.

Three minutes into the second half he again bisected the posts, after Munster were penalised following a scrum, making the score 16-12 to the southern province.

Ulster took the lead for the first time after a pulsating move saw Payne make the line for an unconverted score that edged them 17-16 in front.

Ulster's tails were up and a huge driving maul near the Munster line ended with visiting flanker Sean Dougall being shown yellow by Alain Rolland.

Somehow, though, Ulster lost the subsequent scrum and 14-man Munster - now with Conor Murray on the field - survived.

It was Munster who scored next and just before Dougall's return Keatley struck another drop goal to put them two points in front.

But Jackson's fifth penalty put Ulster back in front by a single point after 68 minutes.

To their credit the home side held out as Munster kept the ball for the closing minutes but failed to get any form of score.

DTH van der Merwe scored two tries to help Glasgow register their first win of the season by a scoreline of 28-10 and condemn defending champions the Ospreys to a third straight defeat at the Swalec Stadium.

Flanker Chris Fusaro also went over and outside-half Duncan Weir added 10 points, while the Ospreys' only try came from lock Ian Evans.

The result marks the Welsh region's worst start to a season since 2007 following two earlier defeats to Treviso and Ulster.

With nine players injured, including Ryan Jones, Adam Jones and Eli Walker, the Ospreys gave a first start in the Pro12 to wing Tom Grabham.

For the Warriors, who had previously lost to Ulster and Scarlets, there was a late re-jig to their back-row with James Eddie drafted in at blindside flank and John Barclay replacing Ryan Wilson at No. 8.

The Ospreys started on the front foot but blanket Glasgow defence forced Dan Biggar to launch an up and under, except Van der Merwe caught the ball and sprinted 70 metres for the opening try on three minutes.

Weir failed with the conversion and then was wayward with a 45-metre penalty attempt three minutes later.

Scrum-half Chris Cusiter earned a penalty for Glasgow which Weir kicked to extend the visitors' lead to 8-0, but it came at a cost to Cusiter, who was forced off with an arm injury to be replaced by Henry Pyrgos.

With the Ospreys struggling at the set pieces, Glasgow manoeuvred themselves into a couple of try-scoring positions in the second quarter but could not finish them off.

But they did get a second try on 28 minutes when Fusaro pounced on a loose ball and went in at the left corner after Ospreys scrum-half Rhys Webb fumbled a ball at the base of a ruck. Weir converted to give Glasgow a 15-0 lead.

At the other end the Ospreys, plainly low in confidence, butchered an attack in the dying seconds of the half.

The Ospreys tried to get a positive attack going after the interval but were penalised in the Glasgow 22 and Webb was then yellow-carded for a professional foul which allowed Weir to put over his second penalty as the Scots extended their lead to 18-0 on 46 minutes.

Both sides were reduced to 14 when Eddie was sin-binned as the Ospreys pressurised the Glasgow line, which the home side eventually breached when Evans crashed over on 51 minutes, a try converted by Biggar.

But the Ospreys comeback lasted only three minutes before Van der Merwe crashed over for his second try, converted by Weir.

Five minutes from time replacement Ruaridh Jackson confirmed the Warriors' win with a penalty after more Ospreys indiscipline.

Edinburgh secured their first home win of the season with a bonus point 41-10 victory over Italian outfit Zebre in a match that was considerably more comfortable than the scoreline suggested.

However, the Scottish side's inability to convert lengthy periods of dominance into points provided further evidence that Michael Bradley's beefed-up squad is still a work in progress.

The hosts had two tries from Tim Visser, one each by Sean Cox and Ross Ford, plus a penalty try, together with a string of kicks from the flawless boot of skipper Greig Laidlaw.

The Italian side's haul was a try from Sinoti Sinoti and two kicks by Daniel Halangahu.

Both sides took time to settle in an error-strewn opening but, with five minutes on the clock, Laidlaw eased Edinburgh in front when he banged over a long-range penalty after an offence at the breakdown.

Zebre were proving difficult to break down and offered a stern physical test to the home side, but there were 15 minutes gone before the newcomers made their first foray into the home 22 with an attack that came to nothing.

And, while the hosts were not firing on all cylinders, they eventually converted their pressure into additional points after 22 minutes.

From a lineout deep in the Zebre half, the ball was swept along the line to Richie Rees, whose darting run took him past one defender before he drew a tackle and offloaded to Cox.

The second row powerhouse rumbled towards the line and, although tackled, his momentum took him over the whitewash. Laidlaw's conversion hoisted Edinburgh's advantage into double figures.

Zebre opened their account with a well struck penalty by Halangahu but that was instantly cancelled out by a similar strike from Laidlaw.

That success sparked a pre-interval flourish from the Scots.

A strike against the head at a scrum on the Zebre line provided the possession for them to sweep the ball wide where Visser gratefully accepted a pass from Greig Tonks to gallop over for his fifth try of the season. Laidlaw's conversion sent the hosts in at the break with a 20-3 lead.

Edinburgh resumed at a ferocious pace and a bristling run by Matt Scott took the centre to within a few metres of the line.

The recycled ball was moved inside where Ford was on hand to crash over and leave Laidlaw a simple conversion.

The home side continued to apply incessant pressure and the visitors were becoming increasingly desperate in their attempts to prevent Edinburgh from claiming the bonus point score.

Their task became enough tougher when skipper Quinton Geldenhuys was yellow carded for a high tackle on Lee Jones.

The inevitable fourth score came after 58 minutes when the referee lost patience following a string of offences culminating in a collapsed scrum, and awarded a penalty try. Laidlaw clipped over the conversion.

With the job seemingly done, the Scots were guilty of allowing their opponents their best spell of possession and with 11 minutes to play, Sinoti capped a brief spell in the ascendancy by Zebre when he dived over from close range to touch down and Halangahu converted.

The Italians came close to bolstering their points tally before, in the dying seconds, a spilled pass just short of the home line fell to the foot of Visser who booted the ball clear then won the foot race to gather and touch down for his second score of the match, with Laidlaw adding the extra two points.

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