Match Report: Leinster 21 - 16 Munster

Match Report: Leinster 21 - 16 Munster

A 65th-minute try from Jordan Larmour was the decisive blow in Leinster coming from behind in the BKT United Rugby Championship at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening.

The tries from Jamison Gibson-Park, Dan Sheehan and Larmour were necessary to overcome a determined and, at times, creative Munster challenge.

The Southern Province was able to own the opening minutes. Hugo Keenan’s gather of Gibson-Park’s high ball was the first significant moment, requiring Thomas Ahern to force a turnover.

Munster had the confidence to go for broke from Shane Daly’s take in the air. Jack Crowley was the instigator. Simon Zebo was the knife-through-butter on the ball.

The pace of Calvin Nash and the dexterity of Antoine Frisch created enough room for the supporting Craig Casey to touchdown in the right corner, Crowley nailing the touchline conversion in the eighth minute.

Ross Byrne was withdrawn with an arm injury. Ciaran Frawley was pressed into early action at ten.

Crowley slipped out of Garry Ringrose’s tackle and Tadhg Beirne cut a fine line to go close to a second try.

Munster’s attack was functioning superbly, Zebo whipping the ball left to Daly. Straight-running through the middle produced a penalty for Crowley to slam through the sticks for a 10-point gap in the 14th minute.

A scrum penalty was the first dominant act by Leinster. A bruising burst by Jack Conan was undone when Jimmy O’Brien’s pass to Robbie Henshaw was just forward.

Gibson-Park’s distribution to the edges was starting to cause problems. Frawley’s show-and-go was taken on by Ringrose for Jack Conan to drive the ball up.

It had the impact of tempting Rory Scannell into a cynical infringement for which he received a yellow card from Chris Busby.

Then, Beirne’s offload went astray. The speedy Gibson-Park sniffed out a chance, hacking the ball on and collecting a generous bounce for a try converted by Frawley in the 26th minute.

It was a tide-turner, in terms of territory. The nous of Beirne subdued a Leinster maul. The brilliant lock also ripped the ball away as Leinster were hot on attack and disrupted Gibson-Park at the base of a ruck.

However, the finesse of Frawley kept Leinster moving and, from Joe McCarthy’s lineout grab, Sheehan shot from a maul to make the line, Frawley firing over the conversion for 14-10 at the interval.

Munster were quickly into a rhythm that tested the concentration levels of the home players, Caelan Doris and James Ryan taking the ball up and Ringrose clearing his half.

A sweeping movement by Leinster with Andrew Porter and Jimmy O’Brien prominent was ruined by Crowley’s belligerence at the breakdown

Munster held their nerve and nibbled at the deficit with a Crowley penalty due to Leinster slowing the ball at a ruck in the 54th minute.

The sharp thinking of Gibson-Park led to a penalty and a driven maul which threatened more than it delivered.

The Blues were beginning to flow onto the ball until the impressive John Hodnett intervened on the floor.

The Reds raided with purpose. Crowley’s delayed ball sent Nash over the gain line. Ringrose and Henshaw were stout in defence. Doris dipped into a ruck to earn a scrum.

Gavin Coombes illegally hampered Gibson-Park to concede a penalty. Once inside the 22, the scrum-half spun the ball wide for Larmour to go one-on-one with Daly.

He just about managed to escape before beating Zebo and Alex Kendellen for a try in the corner that Frawley converted for 21-13 in the 67th minute.

A stunning lineout take and drive by Jack Conan came to nothing when Munster were watertight in defence.

Crowley’s long punt kept Munster in the right area long enough for Crowley to sneak a penalty inside the right upright for a one-score game in the 74th minute.

Conor Murray skipped up the left touchline to trigger a period of heavy, educated pressure which was eventually scuppered by Doris’s turnover.

At the other end, a Ringrose tackle, a Doris cameo and a McCarthy carry almost ended with Jack Boyle cracking the line before Beirne executed a turnover to prevent the bonus-point fourth try.

SCORERS: LEINSTER – J Gibson-Park, D Sheehan, J Larmour try each; C Frawley 3 cons. MUNSTER – C Casey try; J Crowley 3 pens, con.

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