Throwback Thursday: Leinster and Munster trade derby blows

Andy Baber
16 May 2019

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It will be a case of déjà vu at the RDS Arena on Saturday when Leinster and Munster face off in the Guinness PRO14 Final Series in an exact repeat of last year’s semi-final.

Leinster emerged triumphant in Dublin that time en route to winning the title, coming through with a narrow 16-15 victory to overcome their Irish provincial rivals.

Leo Cullen’s side will be keen to get over their disappointing Champions Cup final defeat to Saracens last weekend as they bid to win back-to-back Guinness PRO14 titles.

Meanwhile Munster, who are looking to win the title for the first time since 2011, ensured their place in the final four showdown after edging out Benetton Rugby at Thomond Park.

And ahead of the much-anticipated meeting between the two sides, here’s a throwback to their previous two encounters during the Guinness PRO14 regular season.

Leinster 30-22 Munster, Aviva Stadium

Ross Byrne rose to the occasion with the boot as Leinster claimed the spoils with a hard-fought victory in their first meeting of the season with rivals Munster.

The playmaker scored 13 points to keep the visitors’ second-half fightback at bay as two tries by James Lowe helped Leinster maintain their lead at the top of Conference B.

Munster found themselves trailing 14-0 inside the opening 15 minutes thanks to a penalty try which resulted in a yellow card for Keith Earls, and the first of Lowe’s two scores.

Byrne kept the scoreboard ticking over with penalties as Leinster went into the break 20-12 ahead before Lowe crossed the whitewash again to put the hosts in a commanding position.

Tries from Tadhg Beirne, CJ Stander and Alby Matthewson saw Munster close the gap with ten minutes to play, but they were left to rue a disallowed Earls try as Leinster held on.

Munster 26-17 Leinster, Thomond Park

Johann van Graan’s Munster side exacted revenge in the reverse fixture at Thomond Park as they ended Leinster’s seven-game unbeaten streak in a fractious encounter.

Leinster were forced to play with 14 men for over an hour after a red card for James Lowe, while Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong were both sin-binned in the opening 32 minutes.

Tries from Chris Cloete and Keith Earls, along with 14 points from Joey Carbery and a conversion from Tyler Bleyendaal, saw the hosts maintain their unbeaten home record in 2018.

Following Johnny Sexton’s first-half penalty, James Tracy and Max Deegan both grabbed consolation tries for Leinster after the restart – converted by Sexton and Ciaran Frawley.

But it was not enough to overhaul the deficit as Munster ran out victorious, ending their four-match losing streak against their provincial rivals to boost their standing in Conference A.

The Guinness PRO14 Final is one of the most entertaining games in the rugby calendar and takes place in Glasgow’s Celtic Park on May 25. Tickets start at just £25 for adults, £1 for kids. Visit www.pro14rugby.org/finaltickets

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