REPORT: Munster 26 Leinster 17
REPORT: Munster 26 Leinster 17
December 29, 2018 / Dave Mervyn
Second half tries from James Tracy and Max Deegan were not enough for 14-man Leinster Rugby as they went down 26-17 to provincial rivals Munster in a feisty Guinness PRO14 derby at Thomond Park.
The defending champions suffered two sin-binnings and a red card during a fiery first half, as props Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong both saw yellow, and James Lowe was sent off on the half-hour mark for taking out Andrew Conway in the air.
Former Leinster out-half Joey Carbery, who finished with 14 points from the tee, landed two penalties for Munster to add to Chris Cloete’s 13th-minute maul try, giving the hosts a 13-3 half-time lead with Leinster captain Jonathan Sexton kicking their only points.
Leinster’s maul delivered a 47th minute try for Tracy, cancelling out Carbery’s third penalty success, but the latter nailed a 64th-minute place-kick and Keith Earls’ intercept try had Munster out of reach before replacement Deegan’s late consolation score.
There was plenty of niggle for referee Frank Murphy to deal with inside the opening quarter, an early scuffle between Fineen Wycherley and Sexton setting the tone for some tense and ill-tempered exchanges. Both out-halves missed touch with penalties and the visitors had nothing to show for a strong start from their back-line, which was reshuffled following Dave Kearney’s leg injury in the warm-up.
The Munster attack clicked superbly in the 12th minute when a clever midfield move off a lineout sent Earls haring over halfway. Scott Fardy’s high tackle on Cloete led to Munster going for the corner and a powerful lineout drive ended with Cloete grounding the ball and Carbery landing the difficult conversion.
Despite Healy being binned for a flailing arm on Conor Murray, a similar infringement by the latter allowed Sexton to open Leinster’s account from the tee. They managed the sin-bin period well, but were down to 14 again after Furlong was yellow-carded in the 29th minute for barging into Cloete at a ruck and ‘making no attempt to wrap’.
Barely two minutes later, Lowe’s full-tilt challenge for a high ball upended the airborne Conway who landed on his head. A TMO review led to referee Murphy brandishing his red card and Carbery closed out the first half with two well-struck penalties, punishing tackle and scrum offences by Tracy and Michael Bent respectively.
Carbery opened the second half’s scoring with a penalty, but pressure from successive lineouts a few metres out saw Leinster hit back with Tracy’s well-taken maul effort, converted by Sexton. After Conway went close from a rapid counter attack, Munster’s man-of-the-match Tadhg Beirne duly foiled the Blues’ next attempt to build from out of touch.
Leinster, who lie 16 points clear at the top of Conference B, looked to their bench for the final quarter with youngster Ciaran Frawley replacing Sexton. Carbery’s reliable right boot nudged Munster onto 19 points, and just as the visitors threatened in the 71st minute, Frawley’s pass was picked off by Earls who raced out of his 22 and all the way to the line with replacement Tyler Bleyendaal converting.
Jack Conan’s bulldozing carry led to fellow back rower Deegan touching down past the 80-minute mark, but there was no denying Munster as they claimed their first victory over Leinster since the corresponding fixture two years ago.