Leinster complete Double Derby delight

James Lowe

An encapsulating game in the Aviva Stadium saw Leinster Rugby follow up on their 20-3 win over Connacht last weekend, beating Munster by 8 points in Dublin. Their second derby win in 2 weeks. New Zealander, James Lowe was to the fore again, as his 2 tries helped Leinster to a hard fought derby win.

Leinster 30-22 Munster

Munster were arguably the better side for the game, with the majority of stats falling in their favour. However, it was the reigning champions Leinster, who managed to uphold their 3-year unbeaten run in the Aviva.

Some questionable calls from the officiating team, perhaps aiding the Leinster cause.

“The two teams went at each other for 80 minutes and unfortunately certain calls went against our team” Johann Van Graan.

The story of the game

Leinster stormed into a fourteen point lead through James Lowe and an early penalty try, which also saw Keith Earls sent to the bin. Earls was deemed to have tackled Lowe early and therefore preventing Lowe to score. Referee Ben Whitehouse felt the contact warranted a yellow card and penalty try, much to the dismay of Munster fans.

This decision also impacted on the try following; James Lowe once again the thorn in Munster’s side. Lowe, capitalising on a depleted Munster backline, somehow managing to dot down in the corner, despite the best efforts of 3 Munster men. Man of the Match, Ross Byrne added the conversion from the touchline.

Munster resilience

Munster hit back through tries from Tadhg Beirne, the first of many in a Munster shirt one hopes, and CJ Stander, with Munster’s maul and scrum dominating the Leinster pack.

Byrne restored Leinster to a 5 point lead after Jamison Gibson-Park earned a turnover on the deck for Leinster. A well-timed penalty after a period of Munster dominance.

With the clock in red, and Munster looking to finish the first half with points, b was penalised for sealing off at the ruck. Leinster felt they had an opportunity to extend their lead, and that they did. Munster’s Tadhg Beirne penalised at maul time, perhaps unfairly, but it proved costly once again. Ross Byrne added the 3 points, giving Leinster a 20-12 lead at half time.

Defining moment

Munster will reflect on the game, and can certainly feel aggrieved by another officiating decision early in the second half. Earls pounced on a loose ball, stretching clear and almost guaranteed Munster a 7 pointer. However, the assistant referee and Ben Whitehouse judged that Sammy Arnold had deliberately knocked on while tackling Leinster centre Robbie Henshaw. Replays contradicted this call.

From this penalty, Leinster kicked to the corner and James Lowe acrobatically finished in the corner. Byrne converted. What could’ve and arguably should’ve been a Munster 7 pointer, resulted in 7 points on the scoreboard for Leinster. 27-10.

One would forgive Munster for just hanging-on for the remainder of the game, but they fought hard. Reducing the margin to just 5 points once again after a Carbery penalty and Alby Mathewson try. The Mathewson try, another talking point. Leinster were penalised at scrum time 3 times, with referee Whitehouse choosing not to escalate the sanction from just a penalty. Eventually, on a 4th scrum, Mathewson was forced to use it and managed to profit from some poor defensive play from Leinster. Over 5 minutes after the original penalty was awarded, Munster finally drew blood.

With just over 5 minutes left on the clock, Munster were in a realistic position to snatch the game. However, this hope quickly evaporated as Stephen Archer was penalised from the restart for blocking Fergus McFadden off the ball. This handing Byrne, and Leinster an easy 3 pointer, and the game.

Thoughts of the coach

Munster leave the Aviva with no points, but can be immensely proud of their efforts as pointed out by head coach Johann Van Graan in his post-match press conference:

“We had asked for a big performance and I’m very proud of my team, I thought we did that tonight.

We came back against a team that has not lost here since 2015, I believe. I thought we were right in it with those three or four scrums on their goal-line, getting penalty after penalty.

We got away with a try. It would have been great to get away with something else. [I’m] very proud of my team. I thought we really stuck to our guns.”

Both teams head into a big week of prep as Europe calls this weekend. Leinster welcome Wasps to the RDS, while Munster head to Sandy Park to take on the Exeter Chiefs.

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