Leinster Rugby began their Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup campaign with a 27-3 defeat to Munster at the RDS Arena.

The intensity of the early exchanges was ferocious, both sides quick to renew rivalries.

A calf injury to Caelan Doris forced a late Leinster change, James Ryan coming into the second row with Josh Murphy shifting back to No 8.

The visitors struck first when Peter O’Mahony picked Hugh O’Sullivan’s pocket and Damian De Allende broke through the home defence on halfway for a 30-metre gain, sending Conor Murray to the posts for Joey Carbery to convert in the sixth minute.

Harry Byrne was soon leaving the action for David Hawkshaw to take over at 10.

An awkward challenge in the air by Tadhg Beirne on Ryan meant a penalty, Hawkshaw’s first contribution a well-angled penalty to touch.

The Blues moved left for Dave Kearney to establish width and swiftly right where Beirne committed an infringement in going off his feet, Hawkshaw calmly striking from left of the posts for 7-3 in the 10th minute.

A Leinster set-piece pattern, with Lowe beating two defenders and Murphy another, came to nothing when CJ Stander grabbed a penalty at the breakdown.

The frenzied nature of the play saw Leinster’s lineout misfiring close to home.

Beirne and Stander almost cracked the cover. But, Stephen Archer’s dangerous play involving Ryan saw referee Chris Busby yellow card the tighthead.

As always, Lowe was probing, spinning out of a tackle to make ground before Jack O’Donoghue was penalised for no wrap at the ruck on Ed Byrne.

Hawkshaw was unable to narrow the gap from the right as Munster led 10-3 at the break.

Leinster were sluggish on the restart, handing up an immediate knock-on and field position. Munster couldn’t take advantage.

Leinster flicked the switch early in the second half, Lowe escaping up the left, Dan Sheehan flying forward, O’Sullivan providing the link, Garry Ringrose keeping the move going and prop Byrne appearing from nowhere.

Munster regrouped in defence to stem the tide, De Allende securing a turnover and Murray’s kick completing the relief.

Baird’s long-striding speed defused a dangerous situation and a Carbery chip and collect marked a frenetic period.

From a scrum, Farrell got close and Murray dived home for his second try.

Cormac Foley became the 58th Leinster player this season when replacing O’Sullivan, joining in the defensive line.

Munster’s maul marched forward to convince referee Busby a penalty try was worthy of the drive, Foley seeing yellow for his part in it.

Martin Moloney was also introduced, the Athy native making his debut as Leinster’s 59th man to play this season.

The penalties were piling up and Munster looked to turn the screw by going to the corner for Beirne to pull in the lineout.

It was a testimony to Leinster’s resolve that they did not break, turning the red shirts back for a turnover and winning a scrum penalty.

They even had one last chance to bite back, sadly coming up short when Jeremy Loughman all but ended the game with a steal at the ruck.