Leinster on cloud nine
PRO14 REPORT: Leinster’s flying campaign continued on Derby Day in Round Nine, with a 13-6 victory at the home of Munster in the latest instalment of the old rivalry.
Ed Byrne’s try and eight points from Ross Byrne’s boot put them ahead, and the defence did the rest as Leo Cullen’s men smashed back attack after attack to keep their line unbreached at a sell-out Thomond Park.
The story of the first half was very much of Leinster containing Munster and inching ahead, which they achieved on 10 minutes as James Lowe looped round the back of the attacking line to create space, front row forward Ed Byrne able to power over moments later.
Flyhalf Ross Byrne kicked the conversion and followed it up with two penalties as Leinster turned the screw, the home side’s kicking game constantly thwarted by an aggressive wind blowing against them.
Johann van Graan’s side crucially did get on the board just before the breakthrough JJ Hanrahan’s penalty, a feat repeated as play resumed, but the Leinster machine rumbled on with phase after phase of tight play.
You suspected a Munster fightback would come, and come it did, part in thanks to the arrival off the bench of Joey Carbery and part in thanks to several smart kicks downfield now with the wind behind them.
Jack O’Donoghue worked tirelessly and Mike Haley found half-gaps but the men from Dublin kept slamming the door shut, prop Andrew Porter’s 20 tackles bettered only by openside Will Connors’s 23.
Munster dominated possession for the final quarter but couldn’t escape the smothering defence, Leinster now nine from nine and with a hugely impressive 42 points.
Man of the Match – Caelan Doris
This was a battle won in the close quarters and Leinster No.8 Caelan Doris was central to that effort, growing his burgeoning reputation.
12 carries, 12 tackles, two defenders beaten and several key turnovers were influential in keeping Munster out around the fringes.
Play of the Day
Munster enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the second half but when a double-hit came in from Connors and Sean Cronin on Darren O’Shea on 75 minutes the tone was set.
This season it seems when Leinster don’t want to concede a try, the door stays firmly shut.
Pens: Hanrahan 2
Pens: Byrne 2
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Dan Goggin, 13 Sammy Arnold, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Shane Daly, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Nick McCarthy, 8 Jack O’Donoghue, 7 Chris Cloete, 6 Tommy O’Donnell, 5 Billy Holland (captain), 4 Fineen Wycherley, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Kevin O’Byrne, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 Keynan Knox, 19 Darren O’Shea, 20 Jack O’Sullivan, 21 Neil Cronin, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Calvin Nash.
Leinster: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Jimmy O’Brien, 12 Conor O’Brien, 11 James Lowe, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Will Connors, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Scott Fardy (captain), 4 Devin Toner, 3 Andrew Porter, 2 James Tracy, 1 Ed Byrne.
Replacements: 16 Seán Cronin, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Jack Aungier, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Scott Penny, 21 Rowan Osborne, 22 Ciarán Frawley, 23 Tommy O’Brien.
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: George Clancy, Chris Busby (both Ireland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)
Report by @PRO14Official