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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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RaboDirect PRO12 Table
|Saturday 6th September|
|TBC||Munster vs Edinburgh|
|Saturday 13th September|
|TBC||Benetton Treviso vs Munster|
|Saturday 20th September|
|TBC||Zebre vs Munster|
|Saturday 27th September|
|TBC||Munster vs Ospreys|
|Saturday 4th October|
|TBC||Leinster vs Munster|
|Saturday 11th October|
|TBC||Munster vs Scarlets|
|Saturday 1st November|
|TBC||Cardiff Blues vs Munster|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com