Dream start for Munster not enough as Leinster win bragging rights
The reigning champions got off to a dream start with Craig Casey’s fourth try of the season, but a sloppy Leinster still led 14-10 at half-time thanks to converted scores from Jamison Gibson-Park and Dan Sheehan.
Jack Crowley, Munster’s semi-final 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.
Leinster boss Leo Cullen on how his Ireland players fared in their URC derby return, the injury to Ross Byrne, the early introduction of Ciaran Frawley, and that tackle error by Garry Ringrose which led to a Munster try. #LEIvMUN #URC pic.twitter.com/tgv0Zd5GS7
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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.
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 in this interprovincial arm wrestle with a well-won turnover penalty. He split the posts in the 52nd minute to make it a one-point game.
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.
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