Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Michael Scully

Leinster edge out Munster in Thomond Park thriller

A thriller at Thomond Park with a familiar outcome that left Munster kicking themselves and Leinster still on top.

Two tries in six minutes early in the second half turned this St Stephen's Day battle in the Blues' favour and secured a fourth straight victory in Limerick.

Leo Cullen's side were put to the pin of their collar and trailed 14-6, with Max Deegan in the sin-bin.

READ MORE: Munster 19-20 Leinster recap and result as Leinster stay undefeated

But the full-strength Reds were left to rue another missed opportunity against their biggest rivals, who had Johnny Sexton, Jamison Gibson-Park and Tadhg Furlong among other big names sitting this one out.

In-form Munster went full bore in terms of team selection as they looked for a statement win. However, in the closing minutes Leinster's possession game kept the visitors in full control as they made it 12 wins from 12 since the start of the season.

There was an electric atmosphere among the capacity crowd before kick-off and that translated to the pitch in a frenetic start.

Leinster took control early on, with Ross Byrne kicking them into a six point lead inside 20 minutes as both Niall Scannell and then Conor Murray were pinged for not rolling away.

Munster no 10 Joey Carbery took an early hit from Joe McCarthy but was able to continue, while Jack Crowley made an impressive start in the Reds' midfield and made a big turnover inside his own 10m line on Nick McCarthy.

Carbery was presented with a chance from a penalty won by John Ryan on Andrew Porter at scrum-time, but he fired wide.

As so often, a big play by Peter O'Mahony turned the contest. The Reds skipper won a brilliant turnover off a Leinster line-out close to Munster's 22 and suddenly the home side were on the offensive.

Scannell took on a tap penalty on Leinster's five metre line and while Dave Kilcoyne didn't get there, Gavin Coombes pounced for the score. Carbery knocked over the conversion for a 7-5 lead.

Another O'Mahony turnover - this one close to his own line - kept Leinster at bay before Byrne was short with a penalty to end the half.

Munster took the initiative from the restart.

After Max Deegan conceded the penalty that gave the Reds access to Leinster's 22, the Blues' no 8 was pinged for collapsing the maul. A penalty try was awarded to make it 14-6 for the hosts and Leinster were down to 14 men for 10 minutes.

Yet this time their response yielded their first try. Just as Gloucester were out-foxed by Dan Sheehan's tap penalty five metres from the line, so too were Munster as he popped the ball up for the prolific Scott Penny to score his 25th try.

Byrne converted, and the Blues turned the screw again when Byrne twice tested Munster's wing cover with crossfield kicks.

From the second, Penny won a penalty. This time Sheehan backed himself with the tap and go, muscling under Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne and Jack O'Donoghue to score.

Byrne added the extras for a 20-14 lead.

Back came Munster and, in the 64th minute, replacement Patrick Campbell dived over in the corner with the Blues defence sucked in by determined Munster attacking work.

Carbery faced a difficult conversion to edge his side back in front but couldn't make it, and Leinster had the nous to see it out from there.

MUNSTER: S Daly; C Nash, A Frisch, J Crowley, K Earls (P Campbell), J Carbery (R Scannell 65), C Murray (C Casey 52); D Kilcoyne (J Wycherley 61), N Scannell (D Barron), J Ryan (R Salanoa 62), J Kleyn (K McDonald 72), T Beirne, J O’Donoghue, P O’Mahony (A Kendellen 67), G Coombes.

LEINSTER: H Keenan, J Larmour, G Ringrose, J Osborne, J Lowe, R Byrne, N McCarthy (L McGrath 50); A Porter, D Sheehan, C Healy (V Abdaladze), R Baird (R Molony 50), J McCarthy; R Ruddock (J Conan 56), S Penny, M Deegan.


Get the latest sports headlines straight to your inbox by signing up for free email alerts

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.