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Leinster give reigning champs Munster a reality check

REPORT: A classy 65th-minute finish from Jordan Larmour gave Leinster a decisive third try in their 21-16 United Rugby Championship win over Munster at the Lansdowne Road Stadium.


The reigning champions got off to a dream start with Craig Casey’s fourth try of the season, but Leinster still led 14-10 at half-time thanks to converted scores from Jamison Gibson-Park and Dan Sheehan.

Jack Crowley, Munster’s semifinal hero from last May, bookended the second half with penalties only for Larmour to send the majority of the 49 246-strong crowd home happy.

Simon Zebo announced his return from injury with a brilliant fifth-minute break, getting inside Garry Ringrose to race past halfway. Calvin Nash and Antoine Frisch provided the support, the latter offloading for Casey to dive over spectacularly in the right corner.

Crowley converted and quickly made it 10-0 with a penalty after his initial break almost led to a second try – Stephen Archer held up, on the night he became Munster’s most-capped player of all time with his 269th appearance.

Player of the match Jack Conan and Ringrose then found gaps in the Munster defence but despite Rory Scannell seeing yellow for not rolling away near his own line, Diarmuid Barron pinched possession from a poor Leinster maul attempt.

However, a loose offload from Tadhg Beirne was punished by Gibson-Park who collected his own kick through to cross to the left of the posts. Ciaran Frawley, an early replacement for Byrne, converted.


A Conan turnover penalty led to a prolonged period of Leinster attacking. Beirne and Tom Ahern defended stoutly for Munster, but Sheehan sprung over from a 34th-minute maul to edge the hosts ahead.

Crowley increased his influence with a well-won turnover penalty. He split the posts in the 52nd minute to make it a one-point game.

Coupled with a Tadhg Furlong knock-on, John Hodnett won the breakdown battle to lift Munster again. Nash also looked dangerous inside the Leinster 22.

Caelan Doris got in to disrupt and when Leinster returned to the visitors’ 22, they were clinical. Gibson-Park picked out Larmour who stepped inside Shane Daly and evaded Zebo’s clutches to run in a crucial score, which Frawley coolly converted.


Crowley responded from the tee, closing the gap to five points, and Conor Murray’s clever blindside break sparked a breathless finale. Turnovers from Doris and Beirne denied late pushes for tries at both ends.

Player of the Match
Crowley, who kicked 11 points, and Beirne were the pick of Munster’s players as Graham Rowntree’s men ran their arch-rivals close despite the absence of some key figures, including Peter O’Mahony. Doris and Joe McCarthy had some big moments for the winners but Conan stood out in both defence and attack. One of his highlights saw him win a second-half lineout and power past halfway on a 15-metre carry.

Play of the Match
Leinster co-captain Ringrose was caught out by Zebo’s defence-slashing run in the fifth minute as the title holders were clinical in how they put their diminutive scrumhalf over for the derby’s opening try. Daly and Frisch showed deft hands to advance the attack further, with the centre’s inviting offload out the back giving Casey the time and space he needed to squeeze in past Ross Byrne.

The scorers:

For Leinster:
Tries: Gibson-Park, Sheehan, Larmour
Cons: Frawley 3

For Munster:
Try: Casey
Con: Crowley
Pens: Crowley 3

Yellow card: Rory Scannell (Munster, 21)

Leinster: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Jimmy O’Brien, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Jack Conan, 5 James Ryan, 4 Joe McCarthy, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter.
Replacements: 16 Rónan Kelleher, 17 Jack Boyle, 18 Michael Ala’alatoa, 19 Ross Molony, 20 James Culhane, 21 Ben Murphy, 22 Ciarán Frawley, 23 Scott Penny

Munster: 15 Simon Zebo; 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Antoine Frisch, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Shane Daly; 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Craig Casey; 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 John Hodnett, 6 Tom Ahern, 5 Tadhg Beirne; 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer; 2 Diarmuid Barron (captain), 1 Jeremy Loughman.
Replacements: 16 Scott Buckley, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 John Ryan, 19 Brian Gleeson, 20 Alex Kendellen, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Tony Butler, 23 Shay McCarthy.

Referee: Chris Busby (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Peter Martin (Ireland); Keane Davison (Ireland)
TMO: Mark Patton (Ireland)

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