Leinster Juniors defeat Munster to set up title decider with Ulster
May 7, 2018 5:24 pm Site Editor
The Leinster Rugby Juniors played the second game of their 2018 Interprovincial Series in Coolmine RFC on Saturday against Munster Juniors.
This was another hard-fought contest for the men in blue after their game last week against Connacht, but they emerged the victors in a thrilling encounter, 27-16.
The match was played in very warm and dry conditions with the temperature soaring above 20 degrees for much of the game.
The Munster men started off the livelier and dominated both territory and possession early on.
Their early dominance resulted in a try through centre Eoin O’Dwyer after just four minutes. The conversion was missed but Munster tails were up and they had laid down an early marker.
Leinster struck back after seven minutes through a well-taken penalty from Gearoid McDonald to give his side some respite from the Munster onslaught.
Munster brought their considerable forward physicality to bear and put Leinster under enormous pressure. Their dominance was rewarded with a penalty but they couldn’t convert.
Leinster finally began to ease themselves into the match and, after a lovely attacking move was brought to a halt, were awarded a penalty. Unfortunately, the kick was missed, but Leinster were beginning to fire through their forwards and backs.
On 28 minutes a great run by winger Derek Williams brought Leinster deep into Munster’s 22. The ball was flashed out wide but just as the try line beckoned, the final pass was fumbled. Munster escaped briefly with a defensive scrum.
The Leinster men were growing in confidence after their slow start and their invention was rewarded with a try through centre Mikey Russell. The conversion was added by McDonald and Leinster reached half-time with a 10-5 lead.
Leinster struck again two minutes after the restart with a try through prop forward Cathal Bannon, the result of another lightning-fast attack by the Leinster backline before the ball moved quickly through a number of phases with the forwards. McDonald added the conversion and the Leinster lead had been stretched to 17-5.
Munster had not given up on the game and they came roaring back into the match. This resulted in a second try after eight minutes for their centre O’Dwyer. The conversion was missed but the Munster men were now back in touch, trailing Leinster 17-10.
Just over four minutes later another Munster attack resulted in a penalty being awarded to them and this was kicked by Derry O’Connor. The gap between the teams had now closed to just four points.
Leinster steadied the ship after this Munster penalty. Another exhilarating attacking movement by the Leinster loose forwards and backline resulted in a try for Derek Williams. The conversion was missed but Leinster had pushed themselves further in front again.
On 20 minutes Munster kicked another three points to make it a one-score game.
Leinster continued to attack Munster at every opportunity and they were rewarded with a bonus point try through the impressive scrum-half Stephen Horan.
Munster pressured Leinster for a sustained period in the final quarter but the Leinster men held out leaving the final score at 27-16.
Meanwhile, Ulster made it two wins out of two when they defeated Connacht at the weekend, setting up what is effectively a Cup final for Leinster and Ulster next weekend.
Speaking after the game, Leinster Rugby Juniors Head Coach Enda Finn said: “[I’m] delighted with the win, we expected a massive challenge from Munster and they didn’t disappoint in that regard. We have now given ourselves that opportunity to win the Interprovincial Series. It won’t be easy, Ulster are reigning champions and are unbeaten since 2016. However this group of players have been exceptional to work with and they have the capacity, capability and character to deliver a win next Saturday in Coleraine.”
That game takes place at UUC (Coleraine) on Saturday, 12th May (KO 2.30pm).
Leinster Rugby Juniors: Dan Costello (Stephen Duffy), Derek Williams, Mikey Russell, Matt Stapleton (Paul O’Connor), Corey Carty, Gearoid McDonald (Vice-Capt.), Stephen Horan (Conor McCrossan), Jonathan Gray (Cathal Bannon), Sean Arrowsmith (Joe Gorman), Robert Farrell (Dylan Quinn), Wes Carter, Benny McManus, Kieran O’Gorman (Capt.), Karl Keogh (Robin Foot), Tom Satchwell (Tom Brady)