/ Rugby

Leinster 16-6 Munster: As it happened

Updated: Saturday, 15 May 2010 22:07

Keith Earls and Jonathan Sexton in action at the RDS
Keith Earls and Jonathan Sexton in action at the RDS

2200 So Leinster face the Ospreys in the Magners League grand final in two weeks time. Thanks a million for reading, I hope you enjoyed it and thanks for all the emails from around the world.

Big hello's to Christy in Krakow, Sharon in Charleston, the Keohanes in Cornwall, the Lamberts in Arkansas, David in Dubai, Declan in Luxembourg, Peter in Goteberg, Paul in Leitrim, Declan eile in San Francisco, Ian in Kentucky, Michael in Vancouver, Orso in Udine, Conor in Nice, Mr. O'Malley in Manhattan, John in Saskatchewan (I pasted that one), Michael in Saudi Arabia and congratulations to Peter at his graduation ceremony in Wisconsin!

2155 A fantastic game. Massively entertaining from start to finish and played at a preposterously high level of commitment and skill. We should never have expected anything less than 100% effort from both sides, I suppose. In the end, the difference between the sides was - as ever - one team took their chances and the other failed to do so. Munster probably had more sustained possession and pushed hard for the score, but they were let down repeatedly by handling errors close to Leinster's line.

Leinster had fewer chances, but there's no question that they looked the more incisive, more dangerous side with ball in hand. A rehearsed move was executed perfectly to give them the killer try and after that, solid, hugely committed defence won the game for them.

Other contributory factors - Sexton brough his kicking boots, while O'Gara missed three kickable chances (admittedly far out). He opted for the corner several times, but Munster's lineout was malfunctioning big style. Leinster's scrum was also dominant, earning them several penalties, often relieving pressure.

It was an extrememly competitive game, but the home side wanted it more and played that bit better in both attack and defence.

Full time. Result - Leinster 16-6 Munster.

79 mins O'Callaghan tries to sneak in for an intercept at the breakdown - he juggles it, but can't bring it in. A minute left and both sides still clattering into each other full tilt.

78 mins Penalty for Munster for not releasing in their half - tap & go from Stringer and O'Gara tries to make some ground the direct route, but he spills it and it's scrum Leinster on the halfway.

77 mins Jamie Heaslip confirmed as man of the match. He has been relentlessly impressive in this game and all year.

76 mins D'Arcy picks a nice line through the middle and makes 30 yards, but a tap tackle sends him sprawling. O'Driscoll picks up and tries to float it inside to support, but Quinland intercepts. O'Gara then tries to run it from deep - he makes 20 yards, but is hauled down and coughs it up. It's fast and loose now and hugely entertaining.

75 mins Scrum against the head and Reddan clears right up to halfway.

74 mins Munster lineout has not functioned well this evening. Kevin McLaughlin turns over, but then knocks on in contact and it's scrum Munster inside the Leinster 22.

73 mins Clearance kick from base of the scrum by Reddan, but Munster come straight back. Hines lies on the ball on the 22, penalty - ROG goes for the corner. Three points no use now.

72 mins Quinlan picks and goes, but he puts his head down and drives straight into Varley. Scrum Leinster.

71 mins Stringer spins it wide, through the hands to Howlett, but drift defence covers. Quinlan makes ground up the middle and now the play is within five metres. Pressure building from the visitors.

70 mins Munster bring it right back up to the Leinster 22. Phases, but they can't find a way through at the moment. Recycling well.

68 mins Unbelieveable. Heaslip strides through the ruck, smothers Stringer and turns it over. Kearney clears. Not much competition for man of the match in my book.

67 mins Munster try a rolling maul in the middle of the field, they spin it and go through the phases, probing on the Leinster 22.

66 mins Reddan waits and waits at the ruck and Munster counter-ruck and claim a penalty. They go for the corner.

65 mins Stringer introduces himself to the game - nice grubber moves play inside Leinster's 22.

64 mins Penalty to Munster after Jennings infringes at the ruck on the halfway line. His effort drifts just wide of the left post.

63 mins Even Donal Lenihan on commentary concedes that O'Leary is lucky to be on the field after his hatchet job on Healy. At that, he's replaced by Stringer.

62 mins Heaslip is playing like his life depends on it - it's taking several defenders to stop him when he gets the ball and he is charging at the line every time.

60 mins Things are really heating up. Healy and O'Callaghan wrapped up in a grapple, arms flying. Healy penalised - didn't see it - he may have had a little kick at Donncha, who reacted furiously.

59 mins Jean de Villiers leaves the field, possibly for the last time in a red shirt, with an injury to his arm.

58 mins Heaslip leaves O'Gara flat on the ground and barrels through the line carrying three defenders with him. O'Driscoll takes over and almost sends Kearney free, but scrambling defence keeps out the Blues. O'Gara has no idea where he is - Heaslip flattened him like a cartoon there.

57 mins Sexton strokes it over from close range. Ten point lead, can Munster come back from this?

THREE POINTS TO LEINSTER

56 mins High tackle is eventually called via the TMO, but he was still two or three yards out, so the TMO decides he was too far out to award anything more than a penalty. O'Leary escaped without a card - can't understand that decision.

56 mins Van der Linde shows neat feet to break the line and a nice offload sends Healy clean through. It looks a certain try, but O'Leary comes out of nowhere with what is nothing less than a WWF clothesline. He almost takes his head off. Healy is on his back. The ref calls fair initially, but then goes up to the TMO. No bias folks - that was high, up around the throat and it stopped a certain try. Let's see what the TMO does.

55 mins Holy moley - Munster lineout, messy, ball falls to Heaslip and he puts the boot down. He makes fully 50 yards and shows great pace, even trying to take Earls on the outside, but the centre brings him into touch on Munster's 22.

53 mins Munster responding well, Mafi & Mick O'Driscoll making ground and they're building some pressure now. They need points.

52 mins Missed by O'Gara, he pulls it wide left from the right hand side, inside the 22. He may have been allowing for wind that didn't move the ball.

51 mins Mafi bursts through a ragged Leinster line and makes real progress down the left wing. Recycled well and D'Arcy is penalised at the breakdown. Chance for ROG now.

49 mins Sexton has some confidence this evening - he fairly blasts that one over.

THREE POINTS FOR LEINSTER

48 mins Real biffo after a ruck on the Munster 22. Van der Linde and O'Gara throwing a few digs, then Horan comes over and gets stuck in. Horan's action reverses the penalty and it should be an easy three.

46 mins Another Leinster scrum, another penalty for the home side. Munster really struggling in the set piece.

45 mins Wrong side, right on the touchline but Sexton pulls off a great conversion. Stan Wright is replaced by CJ Van der Linde

43 mins Solid scrum, and it's a sensational rehearsed move from Leinster. Reddan out to D'Arcy, who turns into the tackle and pops to Sexton on the wraparound, Sexton then dummies past Earls to break the line and sets Kearney free down the line for an unopposed score.

TRY FOR LEINSTER

42 mins Munster try to run it out from behind their own 22 - nice hands from de Villiers and Earls, but a forward pass is called in their somewhere and it's scrum down Leinster in a good position.

40 mins Mick O'Driscoll regathers the restart, the ball is spinned out to ROG, who launches a perfect dropper from 30 metres out. What a start. Ref goes upstairs to the TMO to check - are you wathcing roundball?

DROP GOAL FOR MUNSTER

2100 The teams are back on the pitch. Who's going to win? No idea.

2057 Give us a shout if you're following the game with us far afield. Hello to Ken (Tulsa) and Keith (Toronto) in the Munster camp and Pól (Buffalo) and Sean (Brussels) cheering for the Blues.

2055 By the way, if the game is tied after 80 minutes, the team that's scored the most tries will win. Otherwise, we'll have extra-time.

2050 What a game! It's been played at breakneck pace, both sides throwing themselves into contact like it was the start of the season, not the very end of it. Both sides are moving the ball through the hands very well and taking the running option is really helping to make the game an entertaining spectacle. O'Driscoll has pulled off some shiny offloads, but Munster's defence has been solid throughout. Bring on the second half.

Half time O'Driscoll has few options available in midfield, so he opts to chip over for Horgan, but that kick is too high even for Shaggy and it sails out to bring the half time whistle.

38 mins Good quick hands down the line from Munster's backline, but Doug Howlett can't handle the last offload and he knocks on. Don't get the wrong idea with the knock-on's - the ball is moving through hands quickly and the pace is high. Some errors are denying the teams the final break, but they're some fine skills on display and no shortage of ambition in the handling.

36 mins Reddan and Kearney conspire to spill the ball right into the hands of Nick Williams inside their own 22, but the big number 8's hands are found wanting - knock-on, otherwise that was try time.

34 mins Nacewa's turn to leave a couple of defenders in his wake with a jinking run. Leinster in the ascendancy now coming up to halftime.

33 mins Successive line breaks from Stan Wright and Shane Horgan and Leinster are barrelling right up the middle, but Munster turn it over and clear.

32 mins Messy lineout, Sexton tries the crossfield kick for Horgan - but Warwick fields it with real confidence behind his own tryline.

30 mins Crazy skills from Kearney - he fields O'Leary's box kick, spins and skins three defenders, until he's finally hauled down. That's really impressive yards and Munster infringe at the ruck, lineout for Leinster on the 10 metre line.

29 mins ROG in front of the posts but some way out, slots it home to tie the game.

THREE POINTS TO MUNSTER

28 mins Sexton thumps a panicky kick straight in the air, which de Villiers claims, but Leinster are all caught offside and that's a decent penalty chance for Munster. Earls twists his knee there in the tackle and looks to be in trouble. No, he hobbles back to the line.

26 mins Massive boot from Sexton puts Leinster in a decent position inside the Munster 22, but Stan Wright concedes a pen at the ruck. Wright and Horan throw some aggro shapes, but it fizzles out there.

25 mins Both sides are going at this full tilt and it's a terrific match. Shaggy Horgan re-enters the fray. Munster have gotten looks at the Munster line, but they cannot convert chances into points at the moment.

23 mins Sustained pressure from Munster - nice grubber through from Warwick, gathered well by Quinlan. Williams gets a look at the line out wide, but Leinster turn it over in the tackle on their own line. Reddan clears. Warwick tries a drop goal from halfway and hits the crossbar! Electric stuff at the RDS.

21 mins Sexton finds himself at the bottom of a ruck in midfield and Nick Williams doles out some serious shoe pie. That's got to hurt. Fair dues, he's up and back in the line.

20 mins Excellent claim by O'Leary inside his own 22 - it was really high, swirling in the wind and he gathers it over his shoulder with aplomb.

19 mins Howlett puts in a determined chase under the high ball, flies into Kearney but gets the hit all wrong and he looks more than a little dazed after a solid hit to the noggin.

17 mins Sexton bisects the uprights and it's 3-0 to the home side.

THREE POINTS TO LEINSTER

16 mins Lovely break and spin down the wing by Eoin Reddan, flick inside to D'Arcy and Leinster make serious ground. O'Driscoll pops it up off the deck and then Nick Williams comes in from the side. Penalty to Leinster on the left, inside the 22 and another chance for Sexton.

14 mins Munster are living in the Leinster half early doors, but relief there as Leinster earn a penalty at the scrum as Munster's pack falls apart under pressure.

13 mins From a high clearance, Niall Ronan leaps to claim and Shane Horgan barrels into him and sends Ronan flying onto his side. Dangerous play, no question about it, he's off for 10.

YELLOW CARD FOR LEINSTER

12 mins O'Leary tries a run, but he's straight into Heaslip, who rips the ball clean off him.

10 mins Penalty to Munster - Stan Wright picks it up from the deck, but he's not behind the ruck. ROG goes for the corner again - the wind must be too strong for long goal attempts.

9 mins Another reset - hopefully it won't be one of those games - and Munster get the free kick, Leinster not binding properly. Quick tap & go and ROG tries an up-and-under, but Horgan claims well with a mark.

8 mins First scrum for Leinster and they drive Munster back five metres. Reset, but that's not a good sign for the boys in red.

7 mins Questionable forward pass releases Earls through the line at halfway and he's flying, but Kearney launches into him almost horizontally to stop his progress. Full-blooded stuff from both sides.

6 mins High clearance from O'Gara and Kearney and de Villiers fly into each mid-air as they try to claim. The ball pops loose, forward off Kearney, first scrum for Munster.

5 mins Unearthly silence from the RDS crowd. Sexton pulls it to the left and it remains 0-0.

4 mins First Munster line-out is a mess - it flies out the back, Jennings hacks upfield and the scrambling O'Leary is chased down and he holds on for a Leinster penalty. Sexton to try for the posts just inside Munster's half on the left side.

3 mins Frantic start - Howlett mishandles the outlet pass and O'Kelly leads the pressure, driving through and claiming the loose ball - but he's offside. O'Gara opts for the corner - there's a serious enough wind blowing at Leinster's back.

2 mins Hayes & O'Driscoll force an early turnover at the breakdown on their own 22 and Doug Howlett boots upfield and puts Rob Kearney under early pressure.

1 mins We're off - Donncha misses the take, Mick O'Driscoll gathers and boots to touch. D'Arcy barrels into him full tilt. It's on.

2002 Big Mal leads out Leinster. Donncha charges out for Munster will serious intent. Nigel Owens the man in the middle.

2000 The sides take to the field, good bit of red in the crowd. Here we go.

1955 Only a few weeks until Ireland venture south of the equator to face the All Blacks and the Wallabies. While Mr. Kidney no doubt already knows the majority of his first XV, this evening will be another round in the ongoing O'Gara vs. Sexton battle for supremacy. I doubt holds will be barred. Five minutes til kick-off folks.

1950 On the box, Franno gets a little hot under the collar as he extols 'bear of a boy' Jamie Heaslip, while Dara O'Brien expresses awe at his stretching routine - 'you wouldn't see a 13-year-old Romanian gymnast attempt those.' Always nice to be talked about.

1945 So 20,000 lucky fans will enjoy the game in the RDS this evening. Why not four times that amount in Croke Park? There's an awful lot of people out there who would have loved to attend this one. This wouldn't have been a bad one to open up the new Lansdowne Road stadium with, n'est-ce-pas? Who am I asking these questions of? I'm not entirely sure.

1940 Two big names are absent from the second row of both sides - Leo Cullen and Paul O'Connell both miss out through injury. While the Leinster pack looks to have the edge on paper, at least it should be a relatively competitive affair up front, as opposed to recent trips to the continent when both packs got eaten alive by French boeuf.

1935 A night of goodbyes could await - tonight could see the final professional games of Malcolm O'Kelly and Girvan Dempsey should Leinster lose and Michael Cheika is off to Stade Francais as well. For Munster, Jean de Villiers is on his way back to South Africa.

1930 Based solely on those line-ups, Leinster have to be favourites. Sexton may not be 100%, but his return is a welcome boost to an already lethal backline. Munster have opted to leave experienced, passionate campaigners Jerry Flannery and David Wallace on the bench and the replacements is the one place where Munster have an edge - they can call on genuine gamechangers late in the game. Still, I can't see anything other than a Leinster win this evening. We shall see.

1925 The teams for tonight's games are:
Leinster: Rob Kearney, Shane Horgan, Brian O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy, Isa Nacewa, Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan; Cian Healy, John Fogarty, Stan Wright, Nathan Hines, Malcolm O'Kelly, Kevin McLaughlin, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Richard Strauss, Mike Ross, CJ van der Linde, Trevor Hogan, Rhys Ruddock, Stephen Keogh, Paul O'Donohoe, Shaun Berne, Fergus McFadden, Girvan Dempsey.

Munster: Paul Warwick, Doug Howlett, Keith Earls, Jean de Villiers, Lifeimi Mafi, Ronan O'Gara, Tomas O'Leary; Marcus Horan, Damien Varley, John Hayes, Donncha O'Callaghan, Mick O'Driscoll, Alan Quinlan, Niall Ronan, Nick Williams.

Replacements: Jerry Flannery, David Ryan, James Coughlan, David Wallace, Peter Stringer, Denis Hurley, Simon Deasy.

1920 Now I'm from Dublin and a Leinster fan, but I am going to strive for impartiality in this commentary. I say 'strive'. If you'd rather your commentary from a Munster source, I recommend tuning into Michael Corcoran on RTÉ Radio, which is available worldwide here. That starts at 7.55pm Irish time.

1910 Of course the prize that both provinces really want is outside their grasp - the Heineken Cup final next weekend will be fought in Paris between two French teams, no doubt wearing stripey tops and jousting with baguettes. There's probably an awful lot of once-optimistic Irish supporters with flights, tickets & hotels booked for that occasion, who are now brushing up their francais for a different type of holiday.

1900 Welcome one and all, as we prepare to enjoy another encounter between Leinster and Munster at the RDS, with tonight's prize a place in the Magners League Grand Final against Tommy Bowe's Ospreys. Kick-off is 8pm.

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