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Munster Close Down Leinster

December 27, 2006 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

Trailing 11-10 at the break, Munster rolled up their sleeves as only they can do and roared on by their pssionate support, they totally dominated a second half that saw Ronan O’Gara score 15 unanswered points for a 25-11 victory.

Twenty points from the boot of Ronan O’Gara and a masterclass in the art of forward play were the cornerstones of this Munster victory in the Magners League clash in front of a full house Thomond Park.Munster started brightly but fell away somewhat in the second quarter to allow the visitors take a one point lead (11-0) into the half-time break. However after a little soul searching at the interval Munster re-emerged with a totally different mindset and controlled matters to such an extent that a Leinster visit to the Munster half was as rare as a taxi at rush hour.

Leinster, or their supporters to be more precise, arrived in Limerick fully intent and loudly confident of adding to their victory in Agen and draw in Ravenhill. As they saw it their side had earned their spurs in the south of France and Ulster and it only remained to add Thomond Park to their list of conquests this season.  That opening half would have done little to quell their optimism. Novice John Sexton kicked Leinster ahead with a fifth minute penalty and despite losing Keith Gleeson to the sin-bin and a seven pointer within a minute in the 12th minute, Leinster surged back into the lead with a well worked Girvan Dempsey try in the 21st minute.

O’Gara restored Munster’s advantage with his second successful effort in the 39th minute before Munster lost the lead again – and Frank Sheahan (yellow card) – two minutes into stoppage time when Seton had an easy tap-over from 22metres.

Half-time: Munster 10-11 Leinster.

Three minutes into the restart Munster edged in front again with another O’Gara penalty and if there was a turning point it came some five minutes later when Dempsey suffered an ankle injury and was replaced by Robert Kearney. O’Gara launched a massive Garryowen that the young Dundalkman spilled and with the alarm bells clanging in the Leinster defence, the penalty was forced and O’Gara knocked the kick over effortlessly.

From then on, such was the control exerted by a forward pack superbly marshalled by O’Connell, aided and abetted by Frank Sheahan, John Hayes, Denis Leamy and John O’Sullivan, that Munster simply sucked the life out of Leinster’s effort.

O’Gara tagged on three more penalties, Munster kept Leinster pinned inside their own half and when the much vaunted Leinster backline did try to attack they were stopped in their tracks by a Munster defence that had resolved, as they had done in the Millennium Stadium, not to concede any further tries after that opener.

Munster: S Payne; J Kelly, B Murphy, T Halstead, I Dowling; R O’Gara, P Stringer; F Pucciariello (D Hurley 64 min), F Sheahan, J Hayes; D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell; J O’Sullivan (A Kyriacou temp, J Coughlan 78 min)), D Wallace, D Leamy.
Leinster: G Dempsey (R Kearney 49 min); S Horgan, B O’Driscoll, G D’Arcy, D Hickie; J Sexton (F Contepomi 68 min), G Easterby (C Whittaker 64 min); R McCormack, B Jackman, S Wright (F Paia’amo 68 min); T Hogan (O Finnegan temp), M O’Kelly, S Keogh (C Jowitt 59 min), K Gleeson

Referee:  Alan Lewis.

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