Munster moved above Leinster on the Pro 12 table after claiming a 34-23 victory over arch rivals in Dublin on Saturday.
Munster moved above Leinster on the Pro12 table after claiming a 34-23 victory over arch rivals at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday.
In a match that was expected to be tight and tense, the first period was anything but, as tries from James Cronin, Robin Copeland and Ian Keatley for the visitors opened up a 28-9 lead.
Ian Madigan was on target for Matt O’Connor’s side with three penalties, but this Munster performance was reminiscent of past glories – in the opening 40 at least.
Darragh Fanning went over for the home team after the break and they were awarded a penalty try to give them hope, but penalties from Keatley – his fourth – and JJ Hanrahan was enough for the Limerick-based outfit to keep their opponents at arm’s length and secure victory.
The visitors had struggled to find their rhythm under the stewardship of Anthony Foley before this match, but they dominated the first half against their closest rivals.
Madigan and Keatley traded a pair of penalties in the opening 15 minutes but, once Cronin went over from close range, Leinster failed to contain an excellent Munster team.
Although the away side’s pivot was awry with the conversion, he was successful soon after with a third three-pointer.
Copeland then crossed the whitewash following a spell of pressure close to the hosts’ line to give them a surprise 21-6 lead.
They were also limiting the Dublin-based outfit to penalty opportunities as Madigan kicked another from the tee to reduce the deficit, but Jimmy Gopperth then had his pass intercepted by Keatley when looking to needlessly force the issue.
The fly-half’s conversion took them 28-9 ahead at the interval and well on course for a third victory of the campaign.
Munster had a chance to get the fourth try almost immediately into the second period but they were held up when over the line. That escape seemed to give Leinster a lift and ill-discipline from the visitors saw Damien Varley and BJ Botha sin-binned in quick succession.
With plenty of space on the field, Fanning glided into a sizeable gap to touch down under the posts and bring the hosts back into the contest, but another Keatley penalty eased the nerves of the Thomond Park-based team.
Leinster were awarded a penalty try with 10 minutes remaining and Dave Foley was yellow carded for collapsing the maul, but JJ Hanrahan’s three-pointer rubberstamped the victory despite another sin-binning, this time for Conor Murray.
Tries: Fanning, penalty try
Con: Madigan 2
Pens: Madigan 3
Tries: Cronin, Copeland, Keatley
Cons: Keatley 2
Pen: Keatley 4, Hanrahan
Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Gordon D’Arcy, 12 Ian Madigan, 11 Darragh Fanning, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (capt), 7 Dominic Ryan, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Michael Bent, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Steve Crosbie, 23 Mick McGrath.
Munster: 15 Felix Jones (capt), 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Denis Hurley, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Paul O’Connell, 4 Dave Foley, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Duncan Casey, 1 James Cronin.
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Peter O’Mahony, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Gerhard van den Heever.
Referee: Ian Davies