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Leinster Rugby (0) 0 - 18 (3) Munster Rugby
Royal Dublin Showgrounds
Att: 18,500
Sunday 28th September 2008, 19:00

A full house undeterred by the unusual kick off time crammed into the RDS for the first of this seasons interprovincial matches. Leinster handed debuts to new signings CJ van der Linde and Rocky Elsom. Munster were looking to avenge the two defeats inflicted on them by Leinster in the previous season.

The early exchanges saw O'Gara chance an early rangefinder with a drop goal attempt that missed the target but served as a warning to Leinster.  Leinster dominated territory and possession in the first 15 minutes and had the opportunity to take the lead with a Contepomi penalty but the Argentine missed his effort and repeated this trick twice more, the last of his kicks smacking against the upright. From a potential nine nil lead Leinster were on level terms, and in truth were never in a position to grasp hold of the game again.

Slowly Munster ground their way back into the match and began to get a level footing in the possession stakes. Both teams were kicking the ball, but crucially O'Gara was finding the lines and this in turn put pressure on a Leinster lineout that appeared to be stuttering. Munster scored three points where a seven pointer looked inevitable, Leinster's last gasp defence doing just enough to keep out the Munster forwards and a penalty despatched by O'Gara. The  meagre scoreline at the break did nothing to tell the story of the frenetic and often niggly rugby on display.

At 3-0 down after the first half the RDS crowd expected Leinster to come out all guns blazing for the second half. And though the men in blue started well, they were finding the Munster defence impenetrable and found the ball turned over against them in the breakdown time and time again. In fact as the match wore on it was Munster who dominated much of the second half territory penning Leinster back with intelligent kicking by Ronan O'Gara.

Munster added to their tally when O'Gara added a second penalty, and in truth the six point gap seemed too far even for a Leinster team with the reputation of creating tries from nowhere. Insult was added to injury with two late tries from Munster the first from Justin Melck to clinch the result and Howlett's second putting a gloss on the Munster scoreline.  A truly shocking night for Leinster and they couldn't put any gloss on their own and finished not only well beaten but without scoring.

Those looking for a silver lining will point to the fact the Leinster defeated Munster twice last season and it didn't do the Limerick men any harm in their Heineken cup campaign. Perhaps defeat against their big rivals will spur Leinster on to improvement and they do need to bounce back quickly. Their next outing is another interpro versus Connacht who they struggled against in truly awful conditions in last seasons corresponding fixture. A win is a must, and with Connacht in a pretty dour run of form themselves and beaten to nil at the weekend, Leinster will fancy their chances.  Lets hope they can get the victory or else they face the daunting task of visiting Edinburgh with two monkeys to get off their backs.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Munster Rugby
Tries     Melck
Conversions     O'Gara
Penalties     O'Gara (2)
Teams Girvan Dempsey 15 Keith Earls
Shane Horgan
14 Doug Howlett
Brian O'Driscoll 13 Rua Tipoki
Felipe Contepomi 12 Lifeimi Mafi
Luke Fitzgerald 11 Ian Dowling
Jonathan Sexton
10 Ronan O'Gara
Chris Whitaker
9 Tomas O'Leary

Ronan McCormack
1 Marcus Horan
Bernard Jackman 2 Jerry Flannery
CJ van der Linde
3 John Hayes
Leo Cullen (C)
4 Paul O'Connell (C)
Malcolm O'Kelly
5 Donncha O'Callaghan
Rocky Elsom
6 Donnacha Ryan
Shane Jennings
7 David Wallace
Jamie Heaslip 8 Justin Melck

Replacements Stan Wright (for McCormack, 41)
16 Frank Sheahan (for Flannery, 51)
John Fogarty
17 Federico Pucciariello (for Horan, 72)
Trevor Hogan (for O'Kelly, 70)
18 John O'Sullivan (for Melck, 77)
Cameron Jowitt
19 Alan Quinlan (for Ryan, 55)
Sean O'Brien
20 Peter Stringer (for O'Leary, 73)
Chris Keane 21 Paul Warwick
Rob Kearney (for Horgan, 53)
22 Barry Murphy

Not considered
due to injury
Gordon D'Arcy (arm)

Officials Referee: Simon McDowell (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: Colin Stanley (IRFU), David Wilkinson (IRFU)
TMO: Marshall Kilgore (IRFU)
4th Official: John Carvill (ARLB)
5th Official: John Montayne (ARLB)

by Sarah Lennon, © 2008-10-01