Springbok's score not enough to save Munster's bacon
MATCH REPORT: Leinster outscored Munster by four tries to one to earn a 34-19 bonus-point win at Thomond Park, which extended their lead at the top of the United Rugby Championship to 10 points.
A newly-married James Lowe scored twice after the interval and Jimmy O’Brien also crossed in the second half to add to stand-in captain Garry Ringrose’s 16th-minute effort.
Four Joey Carbery penalties meant Munster were only 14-12 behind at half-time but they could only muster a Damian de Allende try after the break.
The home side lost powerful carrier Gavin Coombes to injury during the first half and Leinster’s strong bench helped them to see out the result.
Leo Cullen’s men built a number of early phases before flyhalf Ross Byrne kicked them in front. Carbery, who was tackled high by Jack Conan, landed a levelling 13th-minute penalty.
A smart Leinster move off a lineout had O’Brien and Lowe stretching their legs. The pack pounded away before Byrne swung a pass wide for Ringrose to go over unopposed in the corner.
With the conversion missed, Carbery punished a second high tackle to cut the gap to 8-6 before then cancelling out a Byrne effort.
Carbery duly nudged Munster in front with a 36th-minute kick, only for Leinster to force a late turnover and set up Byrne to boot them back ahead.
Notably, with Caelan Doris becoming more prominent, Leinster went up a gear on the restart as Byrne and Robbie Henshaw sent Lowe reaching over for an unconverted 47th-minute try.
Fineen Wycherley’s late hit on Josh van der Flier soon allowed Byrne to widen the margin to 22-12.
The lead was extended further after some very good hands in midfield – particularly from Henshaw – freed up space for the lively O’Brien to get past Conor Murray and finish smartly. Byrne added the conversion.
Craig Casey’s introduction sparked Munster as they looked for a response, the scrumhalf going close from a quick tap before fellow replacement Ben Healy released De Allende for the line. The home crowd erupted and Carbery converted.
It was game on again with Cian Healy at fly-half and Carbery moved to full-back but Leinster coolly wrapped up the result when Byrne’s scooped pass sent Lowe over in the corner with seven minutes remaining.
Player of the match
Leinster outplayed their hosts in a number of areas and flanker Caelan Doris was given the award for an impressive display.
Fineen Wycherley, Chris Farrell and Carbery had some good moments for Munster.
Play of the match
Leinster’s backline was clinical when chances arose, which was ultimately the difference on the scoreboard.
Approaching the hour mark, crisp hands from Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw allowed Lowe to sweep out to the right and combine with O’Brien who stepped inside Murray and scored despite Chris Cloete’s cover tackle.
Try: De Allende
Pens: Carbery 4
Tries: Ringrose, Lowe, O’Brien, Lowe
Pens: Byrne 4
Munster: 15 Matt Gallagher, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Shane Daly, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 Chris Cloete, 6 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 5 Fineen Wycherley, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Jeremy Loughman.
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 Josh Wycherley, 18 John Ryan, 19 Thomas Ahern, 20 Alex Kendellen, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Ben Healy, 23 Keith Earls.
Leinster: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Jimmy O’Brien, 13 Garry Ringrose (captain), 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Caelan Doris, 5 Jack Dunne, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Michael Ala’alatoa, 2 James Tracy, 1 Ed Byrne.
Replacements: 16 Dan Sheehan, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Josh Murphy, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Ciarán Frawley, 23 Max Deegan.
Referee: Christophe Ridley (England)
Assistant referees: Chris Busby (Ireland), Peter Martin (Ireland)
TMO: Craig Maxwell Keys (England)
* Source: @URCOfficial