Late Conor Murray try hands Munster surprise away victory over the Bulls

Pretoria-based side hindered by a 54th minute red card for Johan Goosen after a high tackle on Craig Casey

United Rugby Championship: Bulls 22 Munster 27

Munster went back to old school rugby to carve out a deserved win at Loftus Versfeld as they inflicted a first home defeat on the Bulls in a year in a tense URC clash.

The game turned on a red card to Bulls outhalf Johan Goosen after 54 minutes. The home side, leading by 22-17, looked set to pull away when Canan Moodie raced in for what would have been a bonus point try but referee Adam Jones went back and reviewed Goosen’s head-on-head tackle, scratched the score and dished out a red card.

Craig Casey was only on the field a few minutes and had to go off following the collision. Conor Murray, limping since a late tackle, came back on and in the end scored the winning try seven minutes from time to secure a bonus point success for the champions in a tough encounter.

There was little between the sides during a bruising opening half but champions Munster got back in front and took a 17-10 advantage into the break.


Opportunities were limited for the two sides as the tackle success was good from both of them but it was Munster who hit the front at the end of the opening quarter. A neat chip from Jack Crowley found touch and with the Bulls overthrowing the lineout, Munster hooker Niall Scannell pounced and drove towards the line. They went wide after a couple of surges and good hands from Alex Nankivell allowed Simon Zebo to put Shane Daly in to score in the left corner.

Jack Crowley added the difficult conversion from the left to make it 7-0 after Murray had earlier hit the left post with a penalty from just inside his own half.

The Bulls responded almost immediately. Johan Goosen found an excellent touch in the right corner from deep and with Tadhg Beirne only able to tap the ball down in the contested lineout, Daly was nabbed in possession and conceded the five-metre scrum.

And the Bulls made them pay, initially surging from close range a few times before creating the space infield and skipper Erligh Louw got through Daly’s tackle and the cover of Nankivell and Zebo to score a converted try to tie the match at 7-7 after 27 minutes.

Goosen edged the Bulls in front with a penalty on the half hour after Jeremy Loughman was pinged for offside inside the 22.

The Bulls looked set to build an opening half advantage after that but it was Munster who responded better and they regained the lead three minutes from the interval when RG Snyman’s long stretch managed to get the ball under Zach Burger on the line, with Crowley’s conversion pushing them five clear.

They extended that to 17-10 on the stroke of half-time when Crowley landed a difficult penalty from 47 metres on the right.

The Bulls got on top after the restart and reduced the margin when Kurt-Lee Ardense finished in the corner before hooker Johan Grobbelaar edged them in front after 50 minutes after Erligh Louw had made good ground from a tapped penalty.

Goosen tapped over the conversion but his clumsy tackle on Casey proved decisive and Munster made the most of the opportunity.

A superb crosskick from Crowley put John Hodnett in for the equalising score after 58 minutes, while good work from Zebo and Joey Carbery created the opening for Murray to somehow make the right corner for the winning score.

Scoring sequence: 19 mins: Daly try, Crowley con 0-7; 26: Louw try, Goosen con 7-7; 30: Goosen pen 10-7; 37: Snyman try, Crowley con 10-14; 40: Crowley pen 10-17; Half-time: 10-17; 45: Ardense try 15-17; 50: Grobbelaar try, Goosen con 22-17; 58: Hodnett try 22-22; 73: Murray try 22-27.

Bulls: W Le Roux; S de Klerk, C Moodie, D Kriel, K-L Arendse; J Goosen, E Papier; G Steenekamp, J Grobbelaar, W Louw; R Vermaak, JF van Heerden; C Hanekom, R Ludwig, E Louw (capt). Replacements: A van der Merwe for Grobbelaar (51 mins), M Gumede for Hanekom (52), J Swanepoel for van Heerden (59), C Smith for le Roux (63), S Matanzima for Steenekamp (69) , M Smith for W Louw (69), Z Burger for Papier (76), D Williams for de Klerk (76).

Munster: S Zebo; C Nash, A Frisch, A Nankivell, S Daly; J Crowley, C Murray; J Loughman, N Scannell, S Archer; RG Snyman, T Beirne (capt); P O’Mahony, A Kendellen, J O’Donoghue. Replacements: J Wycherley for Loughman (51 mins), C Casey for Murray (51-54), G Coombes for O’Mahony (52), J Hodnett for Kendellen (52), T Ahern for Snyman (56), E Clarke for Scannell (63), O Jager for Archer (63), J Carbery for Nankivell (65).

Referee: A Jones (Wales)