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O’Driscoll try swings it for Blues

Limerick Rugby

By Aidan Corr, Aviva Stadium
Leinster 22
Munster 18

IT was a brave performance tonight in the Aviva by Munster but just not good enough to put them top of the RaboDirect league table. Ulster’s defeat in Cardiff may provide some consolation but failure to score a try proved costly for Rob Penney’s side.

It was6-12 to Munster at the break but Leinster got the perfect start to the second half when a brace of Ian Madigan penalties levelled the tie at 12-12 with 30 minutes remaining. Madigan turned down a chance to put his side ahead soon after but opted for touch from kickable distance after Kilcoyne was sent to the bin. The Munster defence held solid and the siege lifted.
Then the magic of Brian O’Driscoll clicked in. The centre breezed past prop James Cronin to go over near the posts and Madigan’s kick put the blues 19-12 in front. Munster replied with Keatley landing his fifth penalty and the stage was set for a thrilling finish.
Munster came in search of the winner with Zebo testing the home defence and Keatley’s penalty left just a point between the sides at 19-18 with four minutes to go. A moment of hesitancy by JJ Hanrahan presented Madigan with three more points to seal the win for Leinster but both sides will have to show huge improvement if they are to advance to the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup next week-end.
The 51,000 attendance made this a record RaboDirect attendance enhancing the prospect of a new sponsor for the coming seasons. The gamewas slow to live up to expectations but three Keatley penalties had Munster in a deserved 9-0 lead with 20 minutes played. With Kilcoyne and Botha on top in the scrums the penalties mounted at the put-in and after Madigan reduced the lead to 9-3, Keatley restored the 9 point lead with 23 minutes played. A second Madigan penalty on 36 minutes kept Leinster in touch at 6-12 but a bad miss on the stroke of the short whistle sent Munster in with that six point lead. Under the watchful eye of Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt, there were impressive performances by Simon Zebo, Dave Kilcoyne and Felix Jones in particular while the quick feet of Casey Laulala tested the home defence during the second period. The late withdrawal of Peter O’Mahony was a blow to Munster but CJStander put in a decent shift with O’Donnell and Coughlan tireless as usual in the back-row.

Munster: Felix Jones; Keith Earls, Casey Laulala, Denis Hurley, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Damien Varley, BJ Botha; Dave Foley, Paul O’ Connell; CJ Stander, Tommy O’Donnell, James Coughlan. Replacements: Duncan Casey, James Cronin, Alan Cotter, Donncha O’Callaghan, CJ Stander, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Gerhard van den Heever.
Leinster: Rob Kearney, Fergus McFadden, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Ian Madigan, Eoin Reddan; Michael Bent, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross; Devin Toner, Mike McCarth, Kevin McLaughlin, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip. Replacements, 16. Sean Cronin, 17. Jack O’Connell, 18. Ed Byrne, 19. Leo Cullen, 20. Jordi Murphy, 21. Isaac Boss, 22. Jimmy Gopperth, 23. Zane Kirchner.
Referee, Allain Rolland, IRFU.

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