Munster lose 10-point lead as Leinster complete Thomond Park comeback

Tadhg Beirne's 12th-minute try helped move Munster into a 10-0 lead but they failed to score for the remainder of the game.  
Munster lose 10-point lead as Leinster complete Thomond Park comeback

Leinster's Luke McGrath clears his lines under pressure from Jean Kleyn of Munster at Thomond Park. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Munster 10 Leinster 13

Leinster snatched victory from their arch-rivals in Limerick on Saturday night as a late Jordan Larmour try made Muster count the cost of two missed penalties from JJ Hanrahan.

The only downside after an absorbing interprovincial Guinness PRO14 derby was an apparent hamstring injury for Leinster and national captain Johnny Sexton, who left the field in front of watching Ireland boss Andy Farrell midway through the second half.

Steam rises as Leinster's Luke McGrath prepares to put into a scrum at Thomond Park. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Steam rises as Leinster's Luke McGrath prepares to put into a scrum at Thomond Park. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

The win moves PRO14 champions Leinster a point behind Conference A leaders Ulster with a game in hand over their northern neighbours while Munster missed the chance to pull further clear of Connacht at the top of Conference B.

It was a game Johann van Graan’s side should have won on home soil having taken a 10-0 lead inside the first quarter on a chilly night at Thomond Park, Hanrahan nailing his first attempt at goal, also just inside the Leinster half, on five minutes before man of the match Tadhg Beirne drove over on 11 minutes, his try converted by the fly-half.

Leinster's Jordan Larmour celebrates after scoring the winning try. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Leinster's Jordan Larmour celebrates after scoring the winning try. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Sexton got his team up and running with a penalty on 25 minutes and closed the gap further on the stroke of half-time before Hanrahan’s costly miss just after the break gave Leinster the smell of Munster blood.

The killer blow came 10 minutes before full-time as Munster narrowed in defence, Sexton’s replacement Ross Byrne sent a clever kick into the right-hand corner, collected by full-back Hugo Keenan, whose offload fed Larmour for the go-ahead try at 10-11. 

Munster's Mike Haley competes in the air with Robbie Henshaw and Caelan Doris of Leinster. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

Munster's Mike Haley competes in the air with Robbie Henshaw and Caelan Doris of Leinster. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

Byrne sent over the touchline conversion and Leinster saw out the remaining minutes with similar ease to seal a fifth consecutive victory over their great rivals. 

This one will hurt Munster just as much as the others.

The 60-second report

Stream rises from a maul at Thomond Park. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

Stream rises from a maul at Thomond Park. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

Key Moment: Jordan Larmour’s 70th-minute try may have edged Leinster in front at a pivotal point in this contest but JJ Hanrahan’s two penalty misses either side of half-time were the moments that swung this game. 

The Munster fly-half had been unlucky to strike his 40th-minute long-distance penalty against an upright but the miss was compounded by a Johnny Sexton penalty before the break, turning this game from a potential 13-3 lead into a 10-6 game. 

Then Hanrahan missed again, this time a more straightforward effort from close in on 46 minutes as Leinster were let off the hook once again.

Talking Point: Munster came into this game in form and with their best chance yet of finally turning the tables on their nemesis but yet again it was a good performance let down by crucial mistakes, not least from the kicking tee and though these two sides are likely to meet again in the PRO14 final, you get the sense there is a lot more left in Leinster’s locker.

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell and new forwards coach Paul O'Connell sit amongst cutouts of supporters at Thomond Park. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell and new forwards coach Paul O'Connell sit amongst cutouts of supporters at Thomond Park. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Key Man: Tadhg Beirne put in a monumental shift in the Munster second row, scoring a first-quarter try and causing the Leinster breakdown all sorts of trouble with his poaching prowess. He was a worthy man of the match and staked his claim to a starting spot alongside James Ryan in the Ireland second row.

Ref Watch: Andrew Brace kept a firm grip on this derby which was not quite as feisty as previous encounters, though he needed a strong word with Scott Fardy and CJ Stander for a coming together after a touchline ruck.

Penalties Conceded: Munster 9 Leinster 8.

Leinster's Johnny Sexton goes down with an injury. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

Leinster's Johnny Sexton goes down with an injury. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

Injuries: There will be concern for the watching Ireland head coach Andy Farrell who saw captain Johnny Sexton withdrawn in the second half following a conversation with the Leinster physios as he felt his left hamstring. So too the exit of Peter O’Mahony following a series of running repairs in his 67 minutes on the field.

Next Up: There’s little confirmed by the PRO14 save for rescheduled matches and Munster have one of those in Treviso, Italy, next Saturday at 5pm (Irish time) when they meet Benetton at Stadio Monigo in a game originally set for November that fell foul of Covid outbreak in the Italian club’s camp. Leinster are in action later that day at 7:35pm when they travel to West Wales for a clash with Scarlets.

Leinster's Jordan Larmour and Shane Daly of Munster compete for possession at Thomond Park. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Leinster's Jordan Larmour and Shane Daly of Munster compete for possession at Thomond Park. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

MUNSTER: M Haley; K Earls, C Farrell, D de Allende, S Daly; JJ Hanrahan (B Healy, 53), C Murray (C Casey, 74); J Cronin (D Kilcoyne, 53), R Marshall (N Scannell, 53), John Ryan (S Archer, 53); J Kleyn, T Beirne; G Coombes (J O’Donoghue, 64), P O’Mahony - captain (F Wycherley, 67), CJ Stander.

Replacement not used: R Scannell.

LEINSTER: H Keenan; J Larmour, G Ringrose, R Henshaw, J O’Brien (J Gibson-Park, 58); J Sexton - captain (R Byrne, 53), L McGrath; C Healy (E Byrne, 51), S Cronin (R Kelleher, 51), A Porter; S Fardy (R Molony, 12-25 & 64), James Ryan; R Ruddock (J Conan, 68), W Connors (J van der Flier, 59), C Doris.

Replacement not used: T Clarkson. 

Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU).

Leinster's Jordan Larmour gets away from a tackle by Conor Murray of Munster at Thomond Park. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Leinster's Jordan Larmour gets away from a tackle by Conor Murray of Munster at Thomond Park. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

More in this section

Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Home Delivery
logo-ie

HOME DELIVERY SERVICE

Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox