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'Leinster Light' deny Munster a home URC quarter with Dublin win

By PA
Alex Kendellen of Munster is tackled by Joe McCarthy of Leinster during the United Rugby Championship match between Leinster and Munster at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

An understrength Leinster side rose to the occasion to win 35-25 at the Aviva Stadium and deny Munster a home quarter-final in the United Rugby Championship.

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Four tries in 22 minutes – with Scott Penny’s opener coming inside 90 seconds – made for a highly entertaining first half which ended 15-12 in the table toppers’ favour.

Penny and Cormac Foley crossed for the hosts, who rested their first-choice players ahead of next week’s Heineken Champions Cup final, while Munster had back-to-back scores from Jack O’Donoghue and Mike Haley.

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An opportunist Conor Murray try moved Munster a step closer to finishing second overall, but Leinster roared back with a penalty try – Niall Scannell saw yellow for collapsing a maul – and a rapid Rory O’Loughlin effort.

Ross Byrne’s 70th-minute penalty rounded off the scoring for Leinster, who have a home quarter-final against Glasgow. Ending up in sixth place, Munster will travel to Ulster in the last eight.

Returning to the scene of their heartbreaking European exit, Johann van Graan’s men were stunned when Ciaran Frawley’s cross-field kick played in Penny in the right corner.

After fly-half Byrne tagged on a penalty for 8-0, Munster’s stand-in captain O’Donoghue clawed back five points with an excellent finish out wide from a long Keith Earls pass.

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Ever-alert full-back Haley sniped in under the posts in the 16th minute, making it a quick-fire double for the visitors.

Jordan Larmour’s electric run inspired Leinster’s second try, finished by scrum-half Foley following Frawley’s midfield break. Byrne’s boot made it 15-12.

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However, with Leinster winger Rob Russell binned for a deliberate knock-on, Murray scooped up a breaking ball from a Haley bomb for a gift of a score.

Joey Carbery converted and then cancelled out a Byrne penalty, only for Leinster’s second string to lift their game.

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Foley’s brilliant 50:22 kick led to the penalty try, with Munster hooker Scannell also seeing yellow.

O’Loughlin followed up with a terrific bonus-point effort, the initial damage caused again by Larmour. Byrne’s conversion made it a 10-point game.

Carbery chipped away with his second penalty, yet a long-range strike from Byrne settled the issue with Leinster’s defence on top late on.

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finn 5 hours ago
Mick Cleary: 'England fans are entitled to be grumpy and weary'

“no stand-out talent that would trouble the selectors of a world XV. Until that status changes, then they will be confined to this mid-table (at best) mediocrity.” I really think this is nonsense analysis. Finn Russell isn’t better than George Ford. Jamie George is the third best hooker in the world after Marx and Sheehan. Ben Earl would probably start for any team in the world bar Ireland, and the same goes for Ollie Lawrence when he’s in form. The problem England have is (1) people hate their style of play, so will always overlook players like Ford and George when comparing them with more flashy alternatives; (2) that people expect England to be one of the best teams in the world, so when they fall short it is held against them. Finn Russell has far more poor games than George Ford, but because Scotland aren’t expected to be consistently winning trophies it isn’t a scandal when he does play badly. Conversely if Ben Earl was playing for scotland, or wales, or italy, everyone would be blown away by his performances, but because he’s only playing slightly better than we expect english back row players to play then he’s not given the plaudits he arguably deserves. I say “arguably” because ultimately I don’t think it matters whether we value individual players accurately or not. I’m not aggrieved that english players don’t get selected in world XVs, I just don’t think its a good explanation of a nation’s performances!

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TRENDING Four England talking points after their abject defeat in Scotland Four England talking points after their abject defeat in Scotland
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