A try from Shane Horgan in the 66th minute converted superbly by Felipe Contepomi was enough to earn Leinster a first win in Musgrave Park since 1985.
And least there be any doubt, it was a 10-3 victory the visitors richly deserved. For most of a rain drenched encounter, Leinster played the smarter rugby and by the time Munster copped on, it was far too late. Given the conditions it was hard to understand Munster tactics. They tried to play a brand of football best suited to dry conditions, while in contrast the Leinster backs put boot to ball at every reasonable opportunity.
Tied three points apiece at half time, the game’s first try was always going to be crucial, and in truth Munster never really looked likely to manufacture it. Once Horgan had touched down, and he did superbly well to retain possession smothered as he was by red-shirted defenders, there was an inevitability about the outcome even with almost twenty minutes of actual time yet to play.
It was only right at the end that Munster played anything remotely like they are capable but it was most certainly too little, too late and Leinster did as they had done all evening, tackled themselves to a standstill.
If there was any consolation for the home side it was that all the players came through unscathed while Shaun Payne had a marvellous game at full-back. His first take of the night, a high dropping ball with the rain sheeting down, was extraordinary, taken as it was at full pelt and it set the tone for his impressive display.
Contepomi had Leinster in front before a minute had elapsed with a straightforward penalty and although O’Gara was wide from a similar position he made amends with a great effort from just short of half way in the 13th minute.
Leinster suffered a serious blow when their captain Brian O’Driscoll limped off on the half hour with an ankle injury to be replaced by Jonathan Sexton who went into out-half with Contepomi moving to centre.
Chances in the second half were rare, Contepomi wide from 35 metres, O’Gara short and wide with two long range efforts. Then Leinster swept the ball wide Luke Fitzgerald made the break and then threw a great pass for Horgan to crash in at the right corner.
Referee Wayne Barnes went ‘upstairs’ to confirm the grounding. The replay on the big screen provided not even a glimmer of hope for Munster supporters and Contepomi’s conversion was right on the money.
Munster: S Payne; K Lewis, R Tipoki, L Mafi, I Dowling; R O’Gara (capt), P Stringer; M Horan, J Flannery (F Sheahan 65 min), J Hayes (T Buckley 65 min); D O’Callaghan, M O’Driscoll; D Ryan, D Wallace, D Leamy.
Leinster: R Kearney (G Brown 84 min); S Horgan, B O’Driscoll (capt) (J Sexton 30 mins), L Fitzgerald; F Contepomi, C Willis (C Keane 55 min), B Jackman, S Wright (C Healy 85 min); L Cullen, M O’Kelly; S Keogh (K Gleeson 58 min), S Jennings, J Heaslip.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England).