Table-toppers Munster were made to pay for resting many of their Ireland stars as Ulster lifted themselves off the foot of the Magners League table with a 22-6 victory.
It was only Ulster’s second league win of the campaign and consigned Munster to their first reverse of the season in any competition.
Ulster’s Fijian winger Timoci Nagusa stole the show with two first-half tries in which the man of the match showed some devastating finishing to set his side on the way to ending a miserable record of only having won one game from seven starts in both the league and Heineken Cup prior to this clash.
Munster simply had no answer to Ulster’s pace, passion and precision both in attack and defence.
The omens certainly did not look good for Ulster after Niall O’Connor’s awful early penalty miss, especially as Munster then managed to get down field and force a penalty.
Paul Warwick showed how it should be done with a strike that opened the scoring for the visitors.
However, with Ulster winning the collisions and showing more appetite for the game, it was no surprise that they levelled the scores with a 24th-minute penalty from Ian Humphreys – on the field for O’Connor who departed with no obvious sign of injury before a quarter of an hour was up.
With the momentum behind them, Ulster struck again when Paddy Wallace’s pop pass saw Nagusa jink and accelerate past three Munster defenders to score his 28th-minute try under the posts and give Humphreys a straightforward conversion.
The sin-binning of second row Ryan Caldwell for cynically taking out Denis Hurley then allowed the visitors close Ulster’s lead to 10-6 with Warwick’s second penalty.
Even so, the force remained with Ulster and after Wallace’s 33rd-minute surge for the corner was rightly ruled out by the TMO for the ball having entered touch, it was Nagusa, four minutes later, who again ripped open the Munster cover to make the left corner from over 40 metres.
Humphreys missed the conversion and then Bryn Cunningham’s intervention did enough to prevent Anthony Horgan from scoring a long-range kick and chase, with the TMO again called upon to adjudicate, allowing Ulster to thrive before Caldwell’s return to go in 15-6 ahead at half-time.
The second half, which saw a raft of substitutions from both sides, brought little in the way of scoring but Ulster certainly did not release their grip on the game.
Humphreys missed a long-range penalty before replacement scrum-half Isaac Boss spun away from a scrum to make the line and Humphreys added the extras to give the home side an unassailable 22-6 lead.