Munster’s two-year 21-match unbeaten record at Thomond Park was ended by Leinster whose defence stood tall in a dogged 13-6 Guinness PRO14 derby win.


Leo Cullen’s men repeated their St. Stephen’s Day 2017 victory in Limerick, using a very strong first-half wind to pick up crucial points – including an early Ed Byrne try – and then defend stoutly during a typically tense finale.

The visitors led 13-3 at the break, aided by eight points from Ross Byrne’s right boot, and although JJ Hanrahan’s penalty brace cut the gap to seven, Munster misfired most notably from a couple of late lineout opportunities.

The IRFU player welfare programme may have removed some stardust from this fixture, but there were still terrific individual performances, with Leinster number eight Caelan Doris in man-of-the-match form and his opposite number Jack O’Donoghue also standing out.

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Munster’s eagerness for a strong start was punctured by loosehead Byrne’s ninth-minute touchdown. James Lowe’s incisive run did the initial damage, and after Jimmy O’Brien and Andrew Porter were stopped short, Ed Byrne managed to burrow over.

Ross Byrne converted and then tagged on a 22nd-minute penalty, punishing Chris Cloete’s breakdown offence. Scrum-half Rowan Osborne stood up well to the Thomond Park pressure, with the 23-year-old a late inclusion to replace the ill Jamison Gibson-Park.


Territory-starved Munster were boosted by O’Donoghue’s maul defence and a subsequent scrum penalty. However, a lineout infringement by the Waterford man allowed Ross Byrne to put 13 points between the sides.

It was back to a 10-point difference after Hanrahan rewarded a late Munster surge, which came from a Nick McCarthy charge-down and another scrum penalty. The Munster fly-half doubled his contribution after a spritely start to the second half.

While Leinster showed impressive ball retention, Munster were finding joy through the direct route. Rory Scannell’s booming touchfinder and the 56th-minute entry of the returning Joey Carbery raised the decibel level significantly.


It was tit-for-tat past the hour mark, Sean Cronin’s turnover penalty being followed by an O’Donoghue-led choke tackle on Doris. Munster built momentum through their forward carries, but a promising maul was grounded and Scott Fardy soon swooped in for a turnover penalty.

Having leaked six tries to Ulster last week, the Leinster coaches were visibly pleased to keep Munster try-less. Their desire to extend their winning streak this season to 13 games was summed up by Will Connors and Cronin’s double tackle on Darren O’Shea during Munster’s late onslaught.

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