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Leinster Rugby (12) 21 - 12 (6) Munster Rugby
Royal Dublin Showground, Dublin 4
Att: 18,500
Saturday, 12 April 2008, 18:30

The Magners League crown was getting closer for Leinster following the victory in the previous round against Llanelli. Munster are probably the only team left who could derail their title aspirations. A win for Leinster here would see their gap at the top of the table increase significantly, but a loss would ensure that a frenetic finish to the league would be in store.

Leinster were looking to build on their victory in Musgrave Park and complete a double over their Southern rivals for the first time in the professional era. On that stormy night Leinster had taken on Munster in the forwards and won. The performances in the pack since have proven that win to be anything but a once-off.  Both sides fielded strong lineups, and with a full house at the RDS the scene was set.

Leinster dominated the early exchanges and were rewarded with a raft of early penalties although the referee seemed to have interminable patience towards the penalised parties. The penalties included three kickable efforts for which Contepomi obliged to give Leinster a 9 point advantage inside the first twenty minutes.

Leinster were dominating the play and managed to steal some key lineouts from Munster, although the scrum seemed to be a level playing pitch with both Hayes and LeRoux penalised with equal regularity.

As is their way, Munster clawed their way back with a brace from O'Gara narrowing the points difference to just three. Munster showed both defensive weakness and strengths during a sequence of play that saw Sexton gallop through the heart of the midfield and then saw Rob Kearney denied from five yards out by Doug Howlett's excellent tackle. This was as close as we were to come to a try!

Deep into injury time, Leinster were awarded yet another penalty and Contepomi struck the long range effort over to extend the lead to six, the least that Leinster deserved.

Munster lost a couple of key personnel in the second half. First O'Gara departed at half time and then Stringer was stretchered off with a seemingly serious injury following a collision with Anthony Foley's arm. Warwick's first involvement was in striking a penalty to cut the lead again.

The match was in the balance and Munster were beginning to enjoy some territory with forays into the Leinster 22. Time and again however Leinster repelled the Munster attack and it was Leinster who stuck next with two more penalties from the boot of Contepomi one following a high tackle that saw Rua Tipoki given a yellow card.

Warwick struck again to leave Munster within six, but crucially it was Leinster who finished the scoring with a drop goal from Jonathan Sexton leaving Leinster nine points clear, secure in victory and denying Munster a bonus point.

Match Statistics

Leinster Rugby
Munster Rugby
Penalties Contepomi (6)
O'Gara (2)
Warwick (2)
Drop Goals Sexton (1)

Sin Bin

Tipoki (69-79)
Teams Girvan Dempsey 15 Denis Hurley
Shane Horgan 14 Doug Howlett
Luke Fitzgerald 13 Lifeimi Mafi
Felipe Contepomi 12 Rua Tipoki
Rob Kearney 11 Ian Dowling
Jonathan Sexton 10 Ronan O'Gara (C)
Chris Whitaker 9 Peter Stringer

Ollie Le Roux 1 Tony Buckley
Bernard Jackman 2 Jerry Flannery
Stan Wright 3 John Hayes
Leo Cullen (C) 4 Donncha O'Callaghan
Malcolm O'Kelly 5 Mick O'Driscoll
Shane Jennings 6 Alan Quinlan
Keith Gleeson 7 Denis Leamy
Jamie Heaslip 8 Anthony Foley

Replacements Blaney (For Jackman, 78) 16 Federico Pucciariello (for Buckley, 74)
Stephen Knoop 17 Frank Sheahan (for Flannery, 67)
Trevor Hogan (for O'Kelly, 80) 18 Paul O'Connell (for O'Callaghan, 55)
Keogh (for Heaslip, 80) 19 Niall Ronan (for Foley, 72)
Chris Keane 20 Tomas O'Leary (for Stringer, 62)
Eoin O'Malley 21 Paul Warwick (for O'Gara, 41)
Gary Brown 22 Kieran Lewis

Not considered
due to injury
Gordon D'Arcy
Brian O'Driscoll


Officials Referee: Chris White (RFU)
Sub Referee: Colin Stanley (IRFU)
Touch Judge: David Wilkinson (IRFU)
4th Official: Peter Dennehy (ARLB)
5th Official: Tom Tuohy (ARLB)
TMO: Marshall Kilgore (IRFU)

by Sarah Lennon, © 2008-04-16

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