Leinster gained some vital momentum ahead of their Heineken Cup title defence by sealing a 30-21 PRO12 win over Munster on Saturday.
Leinster gained some much-needed momentum ahead of their Heineken Cup title defence with a 30-21 PRO12 success over Munster on Saturday.
In an exceptional first half of rugby, it was the hosts that edged to a 20-14 lead through tries from Richardt Strauss and Ian Madigan, with 10 points coming from the boot of Jonny Sexton.
Munster responded through a Peter O'Mahony touchdown and three Ronan O'Gara penalties, but a further Sexton three-pointer and a Brian O'Driscoll try sealed the victory, despite Conor Murray's consolation score.
Although the visitors resided in third position heading into the encounter, just one point separated them and their opponents in a tightly contested league.
As ever with these intense derbies, the match started at a ferocious pace with the hosts striking early on through Strauss after several phases of pressure. It was the ideal opening, particularly after their shock 34-6 hammering to minnows Connacht last week.
However, the Limerick-based outfit were also looking to bounce back from a 30-15 defeat to the Ospreys and they responded immediately from O'Mahony's touchdown.
O'Gara then fired Munster ahead with a penalty before Sexton responded with one of his own. The battle between Ireland's two 10s continued when the away side's fly-half slotted his second three-pointer of the evening to take the score to 11-10 in their favour.
But another close-range converted try from Madigan meant Leinster retook the lead before the respective fly-halves traded penalties as the Dublin team led 20-14 at the break.
Despite the second period continuing with attacking, ball-in-hand rugby, it was initially all done by one side as the hosts controlled proceedings.
Sexton added a penalty and O'Driscoll finished superbly as they moved clear.
To their credit, Munster fought back and were unperturbed by Damian Varley's sin-binning. After the hooker returned, Murray touched down in the corner, Ian Keatley converting, to give them hope. However, they couldn't force the losing bonus-point.
Tries: Strauss, Madigan, O'Driscoll
Con: Sexton 3
Pen: Sexton 3
Tries: O'Mahony, Murray
Pen: O'Gara 3
Leinster: 15 Ian Madigan, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Fergus McFadden, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (capt), 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Damian Browne, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Tom Denton, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 John Cooney, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Fionn Carr.
Munster: 15 Denis Hurley, 14 Doug Howlett (capt), 13 Keith Earls, 12 Casey Laulala, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Peter O'Mahony, 7 Sean Dougall, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Peter Butler, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 James Downey.
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant referees: David Wilkinson (Ireland), Simon McDowell (Ireland)
Television match official: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)
Assessor: Jack Sheehan (Ireland)