Determined Leinster prevail as Munster fightback falls short

Leinster's Billy Dardis

Leinster 22 Munster 17: Munster A produced a strong second-half showing at Donnybrook Stadium last night, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a reversal at the hands of Leinster A in their opening game of the Interprovincial Series.

The visitors had made a bright start, but it was Leinster who eventually broke the deadlock 14 minutes in.

Scrum-half Nick McCarthy embarked on a memorable run towards the right-flank, and after collecting his precise offload, full-back Billy Dardis touched down with consummate ease.

Munster finally opened their account on 24 minutes, when fly-half Rory Scannell converted a 30-metre penalty off his trusty left foot. However, Leinster centre Tom Daly cancelled out this score with a successful place-kick of his own, and with four minutes remaining in the opening half, the pacey Mick McGrath cut inside from the left-flank for the home team’s second try.

This offered Leinster a 12-point cushion (15-3) at the midway point, and they enhanced their superiority when lock Tom Denton drove powerfully over the line just after the restart.

Mick O’Driscoll’s charges were now left with a mountain to climb, but following a lengthy spell inside the Leinster ‘22’, dynamic No 8 Shane Buckley finally squeezed over the whitewash for a 58th minute five-pointer.

This presented the visitors with a lifeline, and after former Cork hurling star Darren Sweetnam produced a try-saving tackle on McGrath, winger Stephen Fitzgerald collected a wayward Adam Byrne pass for a breakaway 71st minute converted try. The momentum was now with Munster as the final whistle beckoned, but Leinster ‘A’ ultimately held out for a slender triumph.

Scorers for Leinster ‘A’:

B Dardis, M McGrath, T Denton try each, T Daly pen, 2 cons.

Scorers for Munster ‘A’:

S Buckley, S Fitzgerald try each, R Scannell pen, 2 cons.

LEINSTER ‘A’:

B Dardis; A Byrne, C O’Shea, T Daly, M McGrath; S Crosbie, N McCarthy; J Loughman, B Byrne, R Burke-Flynn; T Denton, T Beirne; J Murphy, D Aspil, T Ryan.

Replacements:

S McNulty, I Hirst, O Heffernan, G Thornbury, D O’Connor, M Deegan, C Rock, R Byrne, D Fanning, T Farrell.

MUNSTER ‘A’:

S McMahon; S Fitzgerald, N Hodson, M D’Arcy, D Sweetnam; R Scannell, R Foley; L O’Connor, N Scannell, J Ryan; B Hayes, F Bradshaw Ryan; B Kilkenny, J Coghlan, S Buckley.

Replacements:

K O’Byrne, B Quinlan, JP Phelan, R Burke, S O’Leary, K Browne, C Oliver, J Poland, T Quinlan, A Wootton.

Referee:

F Murphy (IRFU).


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