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Munster Rugby (6) 22 - 5 (0) Leinster Rugby
Thomond Park, Limerick

Att: 26,000
Saturday, 4th April, 2009 19:30

This was it then for Leinster. If the team wanted to retain its league crown there could be no mistake, a win was vital. There must have been a modicum of revenge in mind as well following the drubbing received at the hands of Munster at the RDS. Both sides saw players return from the Grand Slam winning team, but for Leinster there was the blow that O'Driscoll and Fitzgerald were both ruled out with injury.

Leinster started the better team in a stadium that for all its grandeur seemed rather flat and were awarded a third minute penalty that they elected to kick. Contepomi screwed the shot wide and in doing so set the tone for what was to be an abject kicking display. In fact Leinster left 13 points behind them in their kicking with one of those a wild kick by Rob Kearney, not Leinster's usual place kicker its fair to say. The lack of confidence in the boot of the Puma, usually so consistent was evident when in the first half Leinster had a penalty advantage. Rather than attempt a drop goal Contepomi continued to spread it wide until the inevitable error denied Leinster any points at all.

On the other hand Munster were in possession of a place kicker who had his shooting boots on and when Leinster gave away a penalty inside their own half, it seemed one result was inevitable. Munster opened the scoring and despite Leinster's early territorial dominance they trailed. O'Gara repeated the trick within five minutes and gave Leinster a 6 nil advantage into the interval.

Leinster knew they had a lot to do in the second half when they emerged form the dressing room. The task got even starker after a further O'Gara penalty preceded a drop goal on 55 minutes. Despite having more than half an hour a two score lead seemed insurmountable.

Leinster were having a reasonable amount of possession however and managed to secure a good number of breakdowns. Time and again however they butchered decent field position through forward passes and handling errors. The lineout was struggling too as O'Connell made hay after Jackman was forced from the pitch.

Leinster were badly exposed shortly after when Wallace offloaded to Earls, with a hint of a forward pass, to surge home down the wing with Rob Kearney unable to put a stop to the run. O'Gara proved he was fallible when he missed the conversion, but despite this the game seemed up.

Staring down the barrel of a whitewash it was an old reliable who stepped up to score. Gordon D'Arcy crossing over after Horgan and Nacewa combined well. D'Arcy couldn't bring the ball close enough to the posts however and Contepomi continued his miserable streak.

Lifeimi Mafi was sinbinned for a skirmish on the ground after a boot caught him on the ground the only real moment of niggle or fraction, but despite the man advantage Leinster couldn't make inroads into the Munster defence and in fact it was Munster who sealed the victory when Barry Murphy ran unopposed down Leinster's right wing again and fed Fogarty for the simplest of tries.

Another crushing defeat at the hands of their Southern rivals has left Leinster looking very fragile. There isn't much time to lick wounds however as a season defining match against Harlequins awaits on Easter Sunday. Leinster must pray that the reintroduction of O'Driscoll and Fitzgerald will spark Leinster into life because otherwise having seemingly relinquished the league title the Heineken cup is all that remains.

Match Statistics

Munster Rugby

Leinster Rugby
Tries Earls
D. Fogarty


Penalties O'Gara (3)

Drop Goals O'Gara

Sin Bin Mafi

Teams Paul Warwick
15 Girvan Dempsey
Doug Howlett
14 Isa Nacewa
Keith Earls
13 Gordon D'Arcy
Lifeimi Mafi
12 Shane Horgan
Ian Dowling
11 Robert Kearney
Ronan O'Gara
10 Felipe Contepomi
Tomas O'Leary
9 Chris Whitaker

Marcus Horan
1 Cian Healy
Jerry Flannery
2 Bernard Jackman
John Hayes
3 Stan Wright
Donncha O'Callaghan
4 Leo Cullen (C)
Paul O'Connell
5 Malcolm O'Kelly
Alan Quinlan
6 Rocky Elsom
Niall Ronan
7 Shane Jennings
David Wallace
8 Jamie Heaslip

Replacements Denis Fogarty (for Flannery, 72)
16 John Fogarty (for Jackman, 48)
Tony Buckley (for Hayes, 67)
17 Ronan McCormack (for Healy, 64)
Mick O'Driscoll (for O'Callaghan, 71)
18 Hogan (for O'Kelly, 64)
Donnacha Ryan (for Ronan, 66)
19 Sean O'Brien (for Jennings, 67)
Peter Stringer (for O'Leary, 66)
20 Cameron Jowitt
Barry Murphy (for Dowling, 66)
21 Simon Keogh (for Sexton, 67-70, for Horgan, 77)
Denis Hurley (for O'Gara, 75)
22 Jonathan Sexton (for Sexton, 51)

by Sarah Lennon, © 2011-08-24