Game in 60 seconds: Leinster continue unbeaten start to Pro14 title defence

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By Simon Lewis

Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane





Key Moment: With the clock ticking and Munster trailing 13-6, the home side won a crucial penalty inside the Leinster 22 after a sustained period of pressure and kicked for the corner.

The five-metre lineout was the perfect platform to rescue a draw but the set-piece was lost and so were Munster’s hope.

Talking Point: Leinster continued their unbeaten start to their Guinness PRO14 title defence by avenging last Christmas’s Thomond Park defeat.

It continued their successful festive season of interprovincial clashes having turned on the style against Ulster in a 54-42 thriller seven days earlier.

Yet this was a victory based on brilliant defence rather than attacking verve, Leo Cullen’s players showing not only they have the strength in depth but an all-around game for all occasions.

By contrast, Munster will be kicking themselves they could not capitalise on their extended periods inside the Leinster 22, their lack of cutting edge proving very costly indeed.

Key Man: Leinster’s conveyor belt of talent was never better displayed than by the continuing good form of No.8 Caelan Doris.

With Jack Conan’s absence through injury, Doris has been playing superbly in the position this season and the foirmer Under-20 international was excellent once again in this war of attrition against old enemies.

Ref Watch: A year on from handling a turbulent derby between these sides on the same ground, Frank Murphy cranked the heat up all by himself with a couple of decisions that did not go down well with the home supporters, not least what looked a clear and obvious tackle off the ball by Ross Byrne on Nick McCarthy, who had charged down the Leinster fly-half’s kick and then appeared to impede the Munster scrum-half’s chase to gather.

Penalties Conceded: Munster 7 Leinster 7 + 1 fk

Injuries: Leinster were forced into a change pre-kick-off when scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park was withdrawn due to illness, giving a first start to 23-year-old Rowan Osborne.

Yet it was Munster who paid the heaviest cost of this bruising contest, losing Dave Kilcoyne, Chris Cloete and Kevin Byrne to apparent injuries on a night when they welcomed back Joey Carbery for a first appearance of the season in provincial colours.

Next Up: The festive season’s Guinness PRO14 interprovincial series comes to a conclusion next weekend with a third round of derbies as Munster travel north to Belfast to face Ulster on Friday night, while Leinster have an extra 24 hours to recover before welcoming Connacht to Dublin’s RDS on Saturday evening.

MUNSTER: M Haley; D Goggin (C Nash, 76), S Arnold, R Scannell, S Daly; JJ Hanrahan (J Carbery, 56), N McCarthy (N Cronin, 65); D Kilcoyne (J Loughman, 51), K O’Byrne (D Barron, 74), S Archer (K Knox, 54); F Wycherley, B Holland – captain; T O’Donnell (D O’Shea, 74), C Cloete (J O’Sullivan, 54), J O’Donoghue.

LEINSTER: H Keenan; A Byrne, J O’Brien, C O’Brien (C Frawley, 58), J Lowe; R Byrne (T O’Brien, 79), R Osborne (H O’Sullivan, 65); E Byrne (P Dooley, 57), J Tracy (S Cronin, 57), A Porter (J Aungier, 74); D Toner, S Fardy – captain; J Murphy (R Molony, 65), W Connors (S Penny, 76), C Doris

Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)

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