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Leinster win at Thomond Park

31st March 2012 21:22

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Rob Kearney Jamie Heaslip Leinster HEC

Irish bragging rights: Leinster

Leinster claimed the Irish bragging rights in Saturday's Pro12 showdown against Irish rivals Munster with a 18-9 win at Thomond Park.

Leinster effectively secured a home semi-final in the play-offs with victory in an unsurprisingly tense - but try-less - encounter between Ireland's two strongest provinces.

It was the visitors who took a 9-3 half-time lead through three Jonny Sexton penalties. Ronan O'Gara responded with one of his own before adding two more three-pointers to level the scores in the second period.

However, another Sexton penalty helped his side into the lead before Fergus McFadden and Ian Madigan three-pointers sealed the win.

With internationals fully integrated back into the Pro12 season after the Six Nations, both sides went in with full-strength squads. And the first half proved to be incredibly tense with the teams cancelling each other out.

It was Leinster who took the lead through Sexton before a period of scrappy play ensued, until O'Gara then equalised after 28 minutes.

The visiting fly-half added a second penalty as Leinster regained the advantage and also converted another opportunity to extend that lead to 9-3 at the break.

But Munster started the second half in superior fashion, with O'Gara reducing the deficit with a second three-pointer after Marcus Horan and Mike Ross had been sin-binned for each side.

The Ireland international subsequently levelled the scores, but it only served to spur Leinster on and Sexton converted his fourth opportunity from the tee.

Substitute McFadden then kicked a penalty as the visitors asserted their authority on proceedings. And Madigan completed the triumph with a late drop-goal.

The scorers:

For Munster:
Pens: O'Gara 3

For Leinster:
Pens: Sexton 4, McFadden
Drop: Madigan

Yellow cards: Horan (Munster - 43rd min); Ross (Leinster - 43rd min)

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Johne Murphy, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Lifeimi Mafi, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ronan O'Gara (c), 9 Tomas O'Leary, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Peter O'Mahony, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Mick O'Driscoll, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Damien Varley, 1 Marcus Horan.
Replacements: 16 Mike Sherry, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Tom O'Donnell, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Danny Barnes.

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Isa Nacewa, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (c), 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Leo Cullen, 20 Sean O'Brien, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Fergus McFadden.

Venue: Thomond Park
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

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Pool 1
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PosTeamPPts
1Munster28
2Clermont Auvergne26
3Saracens25
4Sale Sharks21