Leinster claimed the derby spoils, as they beat Munster at Thomond by a point

Leinster claimed the derby spoils, as they beat Munster at Thomond by a point

Leinster secured a ding-dong 20-19 interprovincial derby win over Munster at Thomond Park, with the hosts left to rue a period vs 14 men in which they conceded twice on St Stephen’s Day. 

Munster led by a point at half-time, and by eight points early in the second half as a Gavin Coombes try and penalty try had them well-placed facing a Leinster minus No 8 Max Deegan for 10 minutes.

Munster – Tries: Coombes (31), Penalty try (44), Campbell (64). Cons: Carbery (32).

Leinster – Tries: Penny (49), Sheehan (53). Cons: Byrne (50, 54). Pens: Byrne (3, 20). Yellow cards: Deegan (44).

The period was to prove critical, however, as two five-metre Leinster attacks saw openside flanker Scott Penny and hooker Dan Sheehan score tries, adding to two earlier Ross Byrne penalties.

Munster fought back through a Patrick Campbell try, but Joey Carbery’s missed conversion from near the touchline left them a point behind, and they failed to create the chance needed to win the game in the time that remained.

Thomond Park played host again to one of the biggest derbies in world rugby, but defeat leaves Munster in a poor league position Thomond Park played host again to one of the biggest derbies in world rugby, but defeat leaves Munster in a poor league position

Thomond Park played host again to one of the biggest derbies in world rugby, but defeat leaves Munster in a poor league position

Three minutes in, Leinster were handed the chance to take the lead when Munster loosehead Dave Kilcoyne was caught on the wrong side and penalised, allowing Byrne to strike through for 3-0.

After several attacking phases near halfway, Munster felt hard done by when referee Chris Busby penalised them at a scrum, with tighthead John Ryan appearing to get a forward nudge but penalised, and felt so again when the officials failed to penalise Leinster after Peter O’Mahony was dangerously upended after a decision had been made.

Ross Byrne kicked the opening points of the contest off the tee early Ross Byrne kicked the opening points of the contest off the tee early

Ross Byrne kicked the opening points of the contest off the tee early

Leinster chose to kick to the corner the next time they had a penalty in the Munster half, but their attack came to nothing when inside-centre Jack Crowley did brilliantly to jackal over the ball and win a breakdown penalty near his own try-line.

A Jack O’Donoghue breakdown penalty – which was marched forward to near halfway after Leinster back-chat – earned Munster attacking territory, but a knock-on within the lineout maul saw the home side’s attack end in the 22.

Peter O'Mahony was dangerously flipped to the ground, but no action was taken. Peter O'Mahony was dangerously flipped to the ground, but no action was taken.

Peter O’Mahony was dangerously flipped to the ground, but no action was taken.

A superb spell of Leinster offloading was ended when Munster forced a spillage at a ruck, but a knock-on advantage wasn’t forthcoming, and after a Crowley clearing kick was charged down, Conor Murray was caught on the wrong side as O’Donoghue got over the ball, allowing Byrne to stretch the visitors’ lead to 6-0.

A dominant Munster scrum penalty on 23 minutes gave Carbery their first chance for points in response, but he poorly hooked wide from a slight angle.

Munster continued to press, with centres Antoine Frisch and Crowley making ground and offloading well respectively, before Leinster second row Joe McCarthy gave away a penalty for a cynical slap-down out of Murray’s hands.

Munster kicked to touch, but their attack lacked precision before Leinster forced a breakdown penalty to clear. The hosts were soon attacking again, however, after superb work by O’Mahony at a Leinster maul brought about a penalty.

A superb Frisch break got Munster into the groove, before inside passes to hooker Niall Scannell, and then to wing Calvin Nash got Munster right up to the Leinster try-line.

A penalty against Leinster for failing to roll away saw Munster turn down a potential kick at goal to attack at the line, from where a TMO review showed No 8 Coombes forced his way over for the opening try of the contest.

Munster No 8 Gavin Coombes forced his way over for the first try of the St Stephen's Day clash Munster No 8 Gavin Coombes forced his way over for the first try of the St Stephen's Day clash

Munster No 8 Gavin Coombes forced his way over for the first try of the St Stephen’s Day clash

Coombes was on the scoresheet again for Munster, following two tries vs Northampton in Europe last week Coombes was on the scoresheet again for Munster, following two tries vs Northampton in Europe last week

Coombes was on the scoresheet again for Munster, following two tries vs Northampton in Europe last week

Carbery converted for a one-point lead to huge ovation, but Leinster almost got in for a try of their own as the first half came to a close, when Keith Earls was charged down by full-back Hugo Keenan, only for Carbery to race back and clear up the loose ball.

An overthrown Scannell lineout put Munster under pressure again soon after, but O’Mahony produced a brilliant breakdown turnover penalty, allowing the hosts to clear again.

One further chance in the half followed when Murray caught centre Jamie Osborne high, but though Munster won possession back, O’Mahony went off feet at the final breakdown to hand Byrne a penalty off the tee from 40 metres out, which he sliced poorly to miss wide.

Byrne missed a straightforward chance to regain the lead just before half-time Byrne missed a straightforward chance to regain the lead just before half-time

Byrne missed a straightforward chance to regain the lead just before half-time

That left Munster ahead by a single point at half-time, and it was the hosts who started the second half on the front foot, when Leinster’s Andrew Porter went off feet at the first breakdown, and then Deegan was thrown across the lineout.

Munster turned down the simple kick for points in favour of going to the corner, and it proved an inspired call when the maul romped forward for a penalty try after Deegan collapsed it from the side, and the back-row was sin-binned too.

Munster's second try came via a penalty try when Max Deegan collapsed a rolling maul Munster's second try came via a penalty try when Max Deegan collapsed a rolling maul

Munster’s second try came via a penalty try when Max Deegan collapsed a rolling maul

Tadhg Beirne was soon penalised at a breakdown inside his half attempting to retrieve the ball, granting Leinster 22 access, and though Munster’s defence through phases was superb, they conceded a penalty for side entry when Coombes attempted to counter-ruck.

It allowed Leinster a five-metre attack from which they would strike, as lovely disguise from hooker Sheehan out the back saw openside Penny drive over in a planned move.

Scott Penny scored off a clever move from a five-metre tap attack Scott Penny scored off a clever move from a five-metre tap attack

Scott Penny scored off a clever move from a five-metre tap attack

Byrne converted, with Leinster down to 14, bringing the away side within a point again, before Munster’s Nash was penalised for an intentional knock-on after Garry Ringrose had done marvellously to claim a cross-field kick on the run.

A terrible mistake by Earls under a Byrne kick that had gone too long – dropping the ball for Jordan Larmour to catch when a clean catch would have been marked – saw Leinster planted in the 22 again, and when O’Mahony was very harshly penalised at the breakdown, Sheehan showed strong leg-drive to score as a five-metre attack did the trick again.

The net result had seen Leinster turn an eight-point deficit into a six-point lead, all with a man less, leaving Munster heads down and the crowd deflated.

Leinster celebrate Dan Sheehan's (hidden from view) try, as they scored 14 points with a man less Leinster celebrate Dan Sheehan's (hidden from view) try, as they scored 14 points with a man less

Leinster celebrate Dan Sheehan’s (hidden from view) try, as they scored 14 points with a man less

Munster turned down their next chance for three points from 40 metres out when Jack Conan rolled onto the wrong side after a strong O’Donoghue carry, kicking to touch, but though the hosts attacked hard on top of the Leinster try-line by the posts, they were just kept out.

Deegan returned with Leinster still six points ahead, but a gorgeous Craig Casey 50:22 effort soon had Munster attacking in the Leinster 22 again, before rapid-ball off the diminutive scrum-half paved the way for replacement Campbell to dive over out wide, after Coombes had just been stopped by the posts.

It left Carbery a far more difficult conversion attempt for the lead, which he kicked wide to leave Leinster, crucially, up by a point.

Patrick Campbell (left) scored Munster's third try, but Joey Carbery missed the conversion Patrick Campbell (left) scored Munster's third try, but Joey Carbery missed the conversion

Patrick Campbell (left) scored Munster’s third try, but Joey Carbery missed the conversion

A breakdown penalty won by Coombes, after Casey had twice disrupted Leinster possession, should have given Munster more territory, but Crowley missed touch from hand in a bad error.

Leinster looked odds on to score a try within moments when replacement scrum-half Luke McGrath raced through after a fabulous Osborne offload off the deck, only for Nash to catch him, and Campbell to jackal and win the turnover in an act as good as a try.

Munster struggled to get out of their half, however, and when Larmour jackalled over Shane Daly at a breakdown, the away side kicked the consequent penalty to touch in the 22 in search of a killer try, only for Munster to force the ball unplayable and win a scrum.

With three minutes left on the clock, though, Munster conceded another penalty in their own half when Beirne rolled into the ball in a ruck. Leinster chose to kick to the corner in a bid to kill the game off.

Munster struggled to get near the ball in the series of one-off Leinster carries that followed, but the visitors knocked on in the final minute to give Munster a scrum and one last chance from deep. The task proved impossible, however, as Leinster claimed a slim victory.

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