Leinster spoil Springbok duo's Munster debuts
PRO14 MATCH REPORT: Leinster stretched their winning run to 22 matches with a thrilling 27-25 victory against rivals Munster in a game that went down to the wire.
Munster fought back from 24-13 down to be within a score of the defending PRO14 champions and had the ball in Leinster territory with just a minute to go.
But Devin Toner intercepted a loose pass and Leinster hoofed it upfield to hold on for victory.
In a breathless game that saw six tries, Andrew Conway opened Munster’s account early before scores from Cian Healy, Garry Ringrose and James Lowe saw Leinster pull clear.
However, Keith Earls’ try and a second for Conway brought Munster back into it – but they fell to defeat and still have work to do in Conference B to book a place in the semi-finals.
Much has been made of Munster’s mid-season signings and South Africa duo RG Snyman and Damian de Allende both made their bows.
However, Snyman disappeared after just seven minutes with a knee injury, suffered while stealing a Leinster line-out.
On the opposite side, there was a welcome return for Leinster N0.8 Jack Conan – who had not played since suffering an ankle injury at the World Cup just under a year ago.
THAT. WAS. TENSE. 🤯
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) August 22, 2020
Conan had his work cut-out as Munster flew out of the blocks and they scored the game’s first try 12 minutes in when Conway went over on the left after Munster’s powerful forwards sucked in the Leinster defence, leaving space out wide.
However, the defending champions hit back quickly as prop Healy planted the ball down following a driving maul.
JJ Hanrahan and Johnny Sexton exchanged penalties, before the former added his second just before the break to put Munster 13-10 up.
But Leinster are the masters are scoring at crucial moments and they struck again with the last play before half-time as Ringrose touched down from a grubber kick.
Leinster crossed for a third try ten minutes into the second half when Lowe escaped down the left after some brilliant passing from Sexton and Ryan Baird.
But Munster increased the pressure and that paid dividends when Leinster replacement Toner was sin-binned and Earls scored a try in the corner.
Ross Byrne’s penalty extended Leinster’s lead to seven points but Conway grabbed his second with a fine finish after Munster stretched Leinster’s defence again.
Hanrahan’s conversion narrowly missed and that proved crucial, while Toner’s intercept iced the game in the final minute.
Tries: Healy, Ringrose, Lowe
Cons: Sexton 3
Pens: Sexton, Byrne
Tries: Conway 2, Earls
Cons: Hanrahan 2
Pens: Hanrahan 2
Leinster: 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Dave Kearney, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (captain), 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Caelan Doris, 5 Scott Fardy, 4 Ryan Baird, 3 Andrew Porter, 2 Rónan Kelleher, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Seán Cronin, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Will Connors, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Max Deegan.
Munster: 15 Shane Daly, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Keith Earls, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 5 Billy Holland, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 James Cronin.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 John Ryan, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Chris Cloete, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Rory Scannell, 23 Matt Gallagher.
Referee: Andrew Brace
Assistant referees: George Clancy, Joy Neville
TMO: Brian MacNeice