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Ulster edge past Munster
Ulster overturned a half-time deficit to edge Munster
Ulster shaded a pulsating first Irish derby of the RaboDirect PRO12 season to edge Munster 20-19 at Ravenhill and go top of the table.
The hosts' blanket defence held out in a nail-biting last couple of minutes as Munster's 23 phases were repelled to stretch their winning run to three games.
Ulster fought back after trailing at the break thanks to five penalties from Paddy Jackson along with an excellent try from man of the match Jared Payne.
Replacement Ronan O'Gara was unable to win the game for the Red Army and Rob Penney's men fell to their first defeat of the season.
Ulster trailed Munster towards the end of the first half thanks in large to a couple of Ian Keatley penalties and drop goal.
Despite the mini fightback, the southern province hit back as Ireland international Keith Earls scored near the right corner and Keatley converted to give Munster a 10-point lead at 16-6.
But Jackson managed to narrow the gap with a penalty just before and after the half-time whistle.
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.
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 with 14 minutes remaining.
And 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 much to the delight of the passionate home support.
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Guinness PRO12 Table
|Sunday 21st December|
|16:00||Dragons vs Zebre|
|Friday 26th December|
|14:05||Cardiff Blues vs Dragons|
|17:00||Munster vs Leinster|
|18:45||Ulster vs Connacht|
|Saturday 27th December|
|14:40||Glasgow vs Edinburgh|
|17:15||Ospreys vs Scarlets|
|Sunday 28th December|
|14:00||Zebre vs Treviso|
|Thursday 1st January|
|14:05||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Cardiff Blues|
|17:00||Connacht vs Munster|
|Friday 2nd January|
|19:35||Edinburgh vs Glasgow Warriors|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|14:00||Treviso vs Zebre|
|14:40||Leinster vs Ulster|
|17:05||Scarlets vs Ospreys|
|Friday 9th January|
|19:35||Connacht vs Edinburgh|
|19:35||Glasgow vs Scarlets|
|Saturday 10th January|
|14:40||Cardiff Blues vs Leinster|
|15:00||Zebre vs Munster|
|Sunday 11th January|
|14:00||Treviso vs Ulster|
|16:00||Ospreys vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Wednesday 14th January|
|TBC||Leinster vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|TBC||Scarlets vs Connacht|
|TBC||Edinburgh vs Ospreys|
|TBC||Ulster vs Benetton Treviso|
|TBC||Zebre vs Glasgow|
|TBC||Munster vs Cardiff Blues|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Ospreys 31 - 20 Ulster|
|Glasgow Warriors 21 - 18 Munster|
|Friday 19th December|
|Cardiff Blues 21 - 9 Scarlets|
|Edinburgh 48 - 0 Treviso|
|Leinster 21 - 11 Connacht|
|Sunday 30th November|
|Glasgow Warriors 19 - 15 Dragons|
|Saturday 29th November|
|Connacht 14 - 8 Scarlets|
|Leinster 18 - 12 Ospreys|
|Zebre 18 - 10 Edinburgh|
|Friday 28th November|
|Cardiff Blues 36 - 25 Treviso|
|Munster 21 - 20 Ulster|
|Sunday 23rd November|
|Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff Blues|
|Treviso 24 - 24 Leinster|
|Friday 21st November|
|Ulster 25 - 16 Ospreys|
|Connacht 43 - 3 Zebre|
|Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow Warriors|
|Dragons 12 - 38 Munster|
|Saturday 1st November|
|Ulster 23 - 6 Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Scarlets 28 - 13 Zebre|
|Cardiff Blues 24 - 28 Munster|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com