Munster’s pride leads to Leinster’s fall as losing streak is brought to an end
Ian Keatley steers home side to a deserved victory Pro 12 win at Thomond Park
Munster’s Keith Earls is tackled by Dave Kearney and Rob Kearney of Leinster. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
MUNSTER 19 LEINSTER 15: It sounds a little trite but as is so often the case, the team that wanted it more won. Not un-coincidentally, Munster probably needed it more, what with four defeats in a row to their rivals including two at their citadel, and this win should do them a power of good.
It’s not that Leinster didn’t want to win as well, of course they did, just that with a whiff of vengeance in the air Munster’s pride dictated they could not afford to suffer the indignity of a third successive defeat to Leinster in their Thomond Park fortress for the first time since 1971.
There was a compelling ebb to the game from the off, though for much of the first quarter or so, Leinster looked the likelier to continue their domestic supremacy. They were less manic and less error prone on the ball, although more error prone in defence.
There was also more tempo, width and ambition to Munster’s recycling and passing, along with a mix of pragmatism, and three minutes in there was also a signal of Munster’s intent. Braveness personified, Rob Kearney rose to gather Ian Keatley’s pinpoint up-and-under despite having already landed painfully from a Duncan Williams’ box kick under pressure from Simon Zebo.
This time Kearney landed to a thumping tackle from Keith Earls and though Leinster sought to regroup around Kearney, the Munster dogs of war were quicker there and hit harder. Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony, Mike Sherry and David Kilcoyne in turn drove over the ball while, for the most part, staying on their feet to present Williams with turnover ball.
Cauldron of yore
Welcome to Thomond, albeit on something resembling a summer’s evening, this was some way short of the official 20,000-plus “attendance” and not the cauldron of yore. The Moyross end wasn’t even half-full, and most of those wore blue.
Munster would go on to derive a huge yield from their furious kick-chase game but most of all won it at the breakdown. Using their bodies almost like human missiles when their wingers chased down up-and-unders by Keatley and Williams, thereafter they continually hit harder and in more numbers, while also enjoying huge success from holding Leinster players up in the tackle.
Indeed, their work-rate and physicality in defence was unremitting, and ultimately so ensnared had Leinster’s attacking become and so far out were they being forced to chase the game into the slight wind, that in truth the outcome never looked in real doubt save for a few isolated moments of menace from Lote Tuqiri and Rob Kearney from the moment Keatley extended the home side’s lead to four points not long past the hour mark.