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Munster Rugby (3) 3 - 10 (3) Leinster Rugby
Musgrave Park, Cork
Att: 8,500
Friday, 30th November 2007, 19:30

Leinster travelled south to take on Munster in a venue that had not yielded a victory in over twenty years. Leinster's form in the league away from home has been good this season though and the boys in blue travelled with confidence and not a little motivation.

The conditions were horrific in Cork and if anything should have played into the hands of Munster. The ball proved to be slippery early on with Kieran Lewis among the players to spill the ball, not the impression Lewis would have wanted to make against his former team-mates. In fact Shaun Payne seemed to be the only player capable of consistently plucking the ball out of the air, repeatedly making the ball stick to his palms.

It was Lewis' early mistake that resulted in the first score. The resulting scrum saw Munster infringe and Contepomi made no mistake from the resulting penalty. Leinster tried to make a further impact on the game, but the swirling wind was proving difficult to play in and kicking out of hand was a lottery at best.

Shortly before the quarter hour Munster were level, O'Gara kicking a difficult penalty over having missed an easier opportunity minutes earlier. In fact it was to be a torrid day with the boot for O'Gara.

Leinster lost Brian O'Driscoll on the half hour to an ankle injury, and Jonathan Sexton's introduction saw a re-jig in the backs with Contepomi returning to inside centre, his berth in the World Cup.

Leinster were establishing a foothold in the game and when they were awarded another penalty deep in Munster territory they sensed a try was in the offing and ran. Some determined play brought them to within inches of the Munster line but a combination of Marcus Horan's boot and an odd reaction by the referee to Keogh's work in clearing out that bought Munster a reprieve.

Leinster were proving to be the better side and their pack was dominating particularly at the lineout with Malcolm O'Kelly particularly impressive.

Half time at 3-3 Leinster felt an opportunity had gone begging.

The second half began in a similar vein to the first with handling and kicking conditions proving tricky. O'Gara continued his poor form missing two kickable efforts, leaving one short that was very definitely within his range. Felipe Contepomi also missed a shot at the uprights for Leinster, squeaking his effort narrowly wide.

With the teams deadlocked, minds were being cast back to Leinster's match in similar conditions against Ulster that finished as a draw. It was however one moment of quality that changed the match.

Luke Fitzgerald burst through the heart of the Munster defence and fed Shane Horgan. Horgan when on the wing with the line in front of him is one of the best finishers in the game, and with some assistance from Keith Gleeson, who was also involved in the build up, bulldozed three Munster defenders out of the way. The referee utilised the TMO to confirm that Horgan had finished, which he had expertly.

Felipe Contepomi had a difficult kick from the touchline to convert, but he made a mockery of the conditions to convert.

If Leinster were bracing themselves for a Munster fight back, it did not come. Munster did have penalties but the burden of the scoreline plus the captains' miserable day with the boot meant that the uncomfortable decision of attacking rather than the safety of the posts had to be made. Munster did not possess the imagination to break through Leinster's increasingly mean defence however and instead the remainder of the match was a turgid affair and although Muster huffed and puffed they never looked likely to score the seven points needed and Leinster and her merry band of supporters took the long road back east with four precious points earned.

Match Statistics
  Munster Rugby vs Leinster Rugby
Tries     Shane Horgan
Conversions     Felipe Contepomi
Penalties Ronan O'Gara   Felipe Contepomi
Teams Shaun Payne 15 Rob Kearney
Kieran Lewis 14 Shane Horgan
Rua Tipoki 13 Brian O'Driscoll (C)
Lifeimi Mafi 12 Gordon D'Arcy
Ian Dowling 11 Luke Fitzgerald
Ronan O'Gara 10 Felipe Contepomi
Peter Stringer 9 Cillian Willis
Marcus Horan 1 Ollie Le Roux
Jerry Flannery 2 Bernard Jackman
John Hayes 3 Stanley Wright
Donnacha O'Callaghan 4 Leo Cullen
Mick O'Driscoll 5 Malcolm O'Kelly
Donncha Ryan 6 Stephen Keogh
David Wallace 7 Shane Jennings
Denis Leamy 8 Jamie Heaslip
Replacements Tony Buckley (for Hayes, 64) 16 Brian Blaney
Frank Sheahan (for Flannery, 64)
17 Cian Healy (for Wright, 80)
Anthony Foley 18 Cameron Jowitt (for Jennings, 80)
Niall Ronan 19 Keith Gleeson (for Keogh, 57)
Gerry Hurley 20 Chris Keane (for Willis, 54)
Paul Warwick 21 Johnny Sexton (for O'Driscoll, 30)
Barry Murphy 22 Gary Brown (for Kearney, 80)
Not Considered
due to Injury
    Girvan Dempsey,
Trevor Hogan,
Stephen Knoop,
Ronnie McCormack,
Fergus McFadden,
Chris Whitaker

Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU),
Sub Referee: Colin Stanley (IRFU),
Touch Judge: Mark Hermin (IRFU),
TMO: Brian Fitzgerald (IRFU)

by Sarah Lennon, © 2007-12-03