REPORT: Leinster 30 Munster 22
REPORT: Leinster 30 Munster 22
October 6, 2018 / Dave Mervyn
Man-of-the-match Ross Byrne’s 69th-minute penalty edged Leinster over the finish line in a thunderous 30-22 Guinness PRO14 derby win over Munster at the Aviva Stadium.
It was three tries apiece in another edge-of-the-seat edition of this enduring Interprovincial rivalry, with out-half Byrne, who started in place of a rested Jonathan Sexton, kicking a crucial 13 points. The result keeps Leinster top of Conference B ahead of the start of their Heineken Champions Cup title defence.
A penalty try and a James Lowe score, either side of Keith Earls’ sin-binning, powered Leinster ahead, and while the visitors impressed with Tadhg Beirne and CJ Stander tries in response, two Byrne penalties had the hosts 20-12 up at half-time.
Lowe completed his brace but former Leinster out-half Joey Carbery helped Munster stay right in the hunt with a penalty and the conversion of Alby Mathewson’s try. Byrne’s right boot decided the outcome, though, as his side stayed five points clear of the Scarlets in the Conference standings.
After surviving some early Munster pressure and a blocked Lowe kick, Leinster hit the front from a Lowe-inspired 10th-minute attack. The Kiwi winger sent Dan Leavy charging into the visitors’ 22 and his attempted return pass to Lowe prompted an early tackle from Earls, who suffered the double blow of a yellow card and a penalty try.
Lowe showed his finishing prowess four minutes later, gobbling up Jamison Gibson-Park’s delicious pass and battling past both Mathewson and Niall Scannell to score in the left corner. Byrne brilliantly converted for a 14-0 lead, but Beirne won a five-metre lineout and popped up soon after to touch down against his native province.
Dan Goggin’s half-break almost led to a second Munster try before Stander successfully barrelled over in the 27th minute through the tackles of Byrne and Gibson-Park. Carbery added the extras this time to make it a two-point game, a top-notch recovery from Johann van Graan’s men.
Tempers flared briefly but once order was restored, Leinster gave themselves an eight-point cushion before the break. Nailing two penalty efforts, Byrne punished a Niall Scannell breakdown infringement and a last-minute lineout sack following Rory O’Loughlin’s turnover penalty-producing tackle on Andrew Conway.
Leinster kept the scoreboard moving early on the restart as scrum-half Gibson-Park sent a skip pass over Earls and teed up a diving Lowe to finish strongly despite Jean Kleyn’s despairing challenge. Byrne kept up his fine kicking display, leaving Munster 15 points adrift.
Carbery drew the Reds closer with a well-struck 55th-minute penalty, and their forwards delivered a superb maul up to the Leinster 22. Try-hunting hooker Scannell was at the heart of another muscular drive, but there was no denying All Black Mathewson who sniped over past O’Loughlin and Rhys Ruddock following a series of scrum penalties.
Leinster regrouped for a big defensive shift in the closing stages and Byrne duly punished a block by Stephen Archer on Fergus McFadden, making it two wins-out-of-two from the Interpros and leaving Munster out of bonus point territory.
Leinster’s ninth successive victory at Irish Rugby HQ, which was watched by an attendance of 50,120, capped off a memorable night for Rob Kearney, who made his 200th appearance for the province, and Luke McGrath who came on to win cap number 100.
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