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Brilliant Earls try seals victory over Leinster

By Aidan Corr
Thomond Park
Guinness PRO14 Championship:
Munster 26, Leinster 17
WITH a 13-3 lead at half-time and faced by 14 for the rest of the game, Munster held the initiative. They started the second half well, Joey Carbery pushing the lead to 16-3 with a fourth successful kick with four minutes played. Leinster stepped up the pace from the restart, trusted their pack and were rewarded when James Tracy got over and Sexton reduced the lead to 16-10 after 49 minutes. Keith Earls was always creative when he got the ball and a trademark kick and chase caused havoc in the Leinster defence.
The Blues went close in the 53rd minute but lost the ball at a five metre lineout. As tiredness set in and the replacements were rolled out, the next score would be crucial. With 16 minutes left it went to Munster, Carbery landing another penalty to give his side more breathing space at 19-10.
Constant Leinster looked like reaping another seven pointer on 72 minutes but Keith Earls intercepted almost on his own line to run the full length of the field to score with Bleyendaal adding the conversion for a 26-10 lead. Full narks to Leinster, they got some consolation at the death with a converted try which put a better look on the scoreboard for the Blues.
The opening stages may have had their share of errors from both sides but as the game progressed, so did the intensity. On two occasions there were brawls that were more similar to a Conor McGreggor top of the bill encounter than a Saturday in Thomond Park.
Munster soaked up early pressure before taking the lead, Chris Coete getting over after a lineout maul. Carbery was accurate with the kick and the home supporters were in good voice.
Leinster then lost prop Cian Healy to the bin and we had to wait 22 minutes for the visitors’ first score, a penalty by Johnny Sexton to make it 7-3. Leinster wing James Lowe was shown the red card on 33 minutes and the loss of a player began to tell.
Munster enjoyed lengthy periods of possession for the rest of the half and a brace of penalties, both converted by Joey Carbery, saw them lead 13-3 at the break having lost Chris Cloete with an injury, replaced by Arno Botha.
Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Dan Goggin, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Joey Carbery, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Fineen Wycherley, Chris Cloete, CJ Stander (C).
Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Jeremy Loughman, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Arno Botha, Alby Mathewson, Tyler Bleyendaal, Darren Sweetnam.
Leinster: Jordan Larmour; Noel Reid, Garry Ringrose, Rory O’Loughlin, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton, Luke McGrath; Cian Healy, James Tracy, Tadhg Furlong; Scott Fardy, James Ryan; Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.
Replacements, 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Max Deegan, 21 Hugh O’Sullivan, 22 Ciarán Frawley, 23 Conor O’Brien.

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