Munster wing Keith Earls sealed the deal against Leinster with a crushing 80-metre intercept as Leinster pushed to close the game to a one-score equation deep in Munster’s territory.


The cunning Earls snatched a pass by reserve outhalf Ciarán Frawley for Jordan Larmour, where Munster had been worked into a compromising position with a numbers disadvantage on the far side. The Munster defence brought forth great line speed and Earls drifted into the passing lane after predicting the intended receiver.

The try stretched Munster’s lead to an unassailable 26-10 with just eight minutes remaining at Thomond Park, in what was a brutal contest.

The match was plagued with stoppages in the first twenty minutes as high-tackles marred the contest. Leinster prop Cian Healy, playing in his 200th match for the club, was the first casualty and was yellow-carded for a high-shot on Conor Murray after repeated infringements.

Murray then put a high-shot on Leinster fullback Jordan Larmour which sparked a melee that spilled over the sideline, prompting the referee to call the captains into line. Healy’s front-row partner Tadgh Furlong was also sin-binned ten minutes later and Leinster’s hopes took a further dent when James Lowe received a red-card for an aerial challenge.


Munster took a 13-3 lead into the sheds after scoring a converted try through a driving maul and two Joey Carbery penalties, although more importantly, took a 15-to-14 numbers advantage into the second half.

“It’s hard to play with 14-men, I was proud of the lads the way we dug it out,” Sexton told RTÉ in his post-match interview.

“You can’t do the moves that you prepped, you can’t play the way you want to play when you are down to 13 or 14 men, that’s what cost us, the three moments in the game where they were sort of accidental.

Munster’s work at the breakdown proved immense in disrupting the visitors, led by lock Tadhg Beirne who won two turnovers and man-of-the-match honours.


“That was a real tough game of rugby,” Munster coach Johann Van Graan told RTÉ Sport afterward.

“Two heavyweights going at each other and I’m glad we came out on the positive side.

“I was really proud of the boys and how we kept our discipline. I said to the guys at half-time, ‘well done for keeping your cool’.

“I’m really proud of a really good 80-minute performance. Leinster are a really quality side and kept fighting until the end of the game.”

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