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Dream start for Munster not enough as Leinster win bragging rights

By PA
(Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

A classy 65th-minute finish from Jordan Larmour gave Leinster a decisive third try in their 21-16 BKT United Rugby Championship win over Munster at the Aviva Stadium.

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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.

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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.

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.

However, a loose offload from Tadhg Beirne was punished by Gibson-Park who collected his own kick through to cross to the left of the posts. Ciaran Frawley, an early replacement for Byrne, converted.

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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.

Coupled with a Tadhg Furlong knock-on, John Hodnett won the breakdown battle to lift Munster again. Nash also looked dangerous inside the Leinster 22.

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.

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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.

  • Click here for all the RugbyPass stats from the Leinster vs Munster match
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