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‘Same old’ as Munster once again fail at semi-final stage

Guinness PRO14 Championship semi-final:
Leinster 13, Munster 3
ANOTHER night to forget for Munster fans tonight in the Aviva Stadium with Leinster once again getting the better of their traditional rivals but they deserved more than their measley three points. They trailed 10-3 at the break but a spirited start to the second half showed promise. Two missed penalties from the boot of JJ Hanrahan proved costly with the usually reliable number ten sending his first effort yards wide while the second attempt from a better angle also missed the target.
As a spectacle the game never lived up to expectations. It had its expected intensity but after Munster left their opponents off the hook with the missed kicks and a series of lineout disasters, Leinster put three scores between the sides when Jonathan Sexton marked a fine performance with his third successful attempt at the posts to put his side 13-3 to the good with 25 minutes remaining. Munster lifted their game but with the loss of Andrew Conway, injured early in the second half, and a couple of knock-ons at crucial times of the game which handed possession back to Leinster, this was another disappointing night in the capital.
So the disappointing saga continues. Since 2010 the battles between the sides now reads 21 wins for Leinster and seven for Munster while tonight’s result marks a fourth win in succession for the Blues. While there was no doubting the effort put in tonight, a number of players who shone in the previous two games were remarkably quiet. Leinster were there for the taking and this must be regarded as a chance missed to end the continuing disappointment for the southern province.
It may have taken Leinster 24 minutes to get a footing in the Munster 22, but they made it pay with the first try of this game coming three minutes later. Munster had the bulk of the opening stages, too often turning down opportunities to put points on the board by kicking for position, but they were very much in control of the game after JJ Hanrahan put them in front with a penalty after just five minutes.
Jonathan Sexton took an age to strike a penalty from hafway on 11 minutes but the ball drifted inches wide of the left hand post but the out-half gave his side a psychological boost when he robbed the ball of de Allended when a Munster try appeared imminent. Having failed to turn sustained pressure into scores the Reds paid the price on 27 minutes. Jack Conan forced a Leinster penalty and when Keith Earls knocked on inside his own 22, the Blues set up a lineout scrum maul that resulted in Ronan Kelliher forcing his way over with Sexton adding the extra points for a 7-3 lead.
The Blues continued to force the game for the rest of the game and it needed two excellent defensive catch and carries from the impressive Shane Daly to prevent a second try. Leinster added a second successive attempt at the posts with the last action of the half, Jonathan Sexton popping over a close-in penalty to leave his side leading 10-3 going into the second half.
Leinster: Jordan Larmour (Rory O’Loughlin), Hugo Keenan, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (C), Luke McGrath; Cian Healy, Rónan Kelleher, Andrew Porter; Devin Toner, Scott Fardy; Caelan Doris, Will Connors, Jack Conan. Replacements: Seán Cronin, Ed Byrne, Michael Bent, Ryan Baird, Josh van der Flier, Jamison Gibson-Park, Ross Byrne for Healy), Rory O’Loughlin.
Munster: Shane Daly; Andrew Conway (R Scannell 45), Chris Farrell, Damian de Allende, Keith Earls; JJ Hanrahan, Conor Murray; Jeremy Loughman, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer (; Billy Holland, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (C), Jack O’Donoghue, CJ Stander. Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, James Cronin, John Ryan for S Archer), Fineen Wycherley, Chris Cloete (for O’Donoghue 49), Craig Casey, Rory Scannell, Mike Haley.
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU, 54th Championship Appearance)
AR1: George Clancy (IRFU) AR2 Sean Gallagher (IRFU)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (IRFU)

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