A Jonny Sexton masterclass saw Leinster beat Munster 25-14 in their PRO12 interpro clash at the Aviva Stadium yesterday.
Munster’s poor second half performance cost them dearly as Leinster punished every mistake they made. Two tries from Isa Nacewa and another from Jamison Gibson-Park propelled Leo Cullen’s men to victory.
Munster fell apart after Nacewa’s second try and a comedy of errors from Ronan O’Mahony and Tyler Bleyendaal gifted Gibson-Park Leinster’s third try.
Leinster had led early in the first half despite Munster’s possession dominance but Peter O’Mahony’s converted try on his first start for over a year gave Rassie Erasmus’ men a lead after 24 minutes.
Nacewa’s first effort after Garry Ringrose’s knock on with the line at his mercy gave Leinster an 11-7 lead at the break.
Leinster dominated the second half and fully deserved their win that puts them in good stead ahead of the Champions Cup opening fixtures this weekend.
Munster started the quicker of the two sides and dominated the early possession but Sexton put Leinster ahead on five minutes after O’Mahony tackled Jamie Heaslip in a lineout.
Cullen’s men nearly followed up the penalty with a try but a superb Simon Zebo tackle on Nacewa scuppered an attack that was brilliantly crafted by Ringrose and Sexton.
Leinster were incorrectly awarded a lineout after that move and earned a penalty that Sexton easily slotted to put his side 6-0 in front with 10 minutes on the clock.
Munster upped their game after that and a succession of penalties brought them into the Leinster 22.
A powerful lineout maul followed and after referee David Wilkinson consulted with his TMO, O’Mahony was awarded a try. Bleyendaal added the extras to put Munster ahead.
Leinster immediately responded with a swift attack and Sexton’s clever grubber kick looked to have left Ringrose with the easiest of finishes but he knocked on close to the line.
Munster failed to clear their lines from the resulting scrum thanks to a choke tackle from Sexton and Leinster debutant Robbie Henshaw.
A Leinster try followed from the scrum after Luke McGrath passed the ball quickly to Sexton. He fired out to Nacewa who finished in the left hand corner. Sexton’s conversion was wide but his side crucially went in four points ahead at half time.
Munster dominated the opening exchanges of the second half but once again a lacklustre attack was easily stopped by Leinster’s sharp defense.
Jack O’Donoghue came on for O’Mahony at half time and made an immediate impact with a turnover as Leinster looked to run the ball out of their half.
The turnover led to an attack on the right hand side for Darren Sweetnam who sped past a couple of Leinster defenders.
Leinster’s defense was in disarray after that run and were backpedalling even further when Bleyendaal’s pass put CJ Stander through the tiniest of gaps.
The ball eventually came to James Cronin who looked to have touched down for a try but the TMO ruled that there was a double movement and Leinster were awarded a penalty.
Munster’s heads seemed to drop after that and they were put on the back foot thanks to a splendid kick out of defence by McGrath.
Niall Scannell made a mess of the lineout throw and once James Tracy gathered the ball, Leinster were in prime position to score.
Munster briefly held out but Ringrose injected some pace into the attack and only some desperate defending kept him from scoring.
A try was inevitable and the ball was moved left to Rob Kearney who passed to Nacewa for an easy score. Munster called for a forward pass but to no avail and Sexton rubbed salt into the wounds with a superb conversion.
Leinster continued to pile on the pressure and got reward for their efforts with a third try in the 67th minute.
Henshaw put in a good kick behind the Munster defense that should have been dealt with by Ronan O’Mahony. He failed to gather the ball and then Bleyendaal knocked on.
Gibson-Park was on hand to score the simplest of tries that Nacewa converted to put Leinster 25-7 to the good.
Munster did get a consolation try through South African Jaco Taute but Leinster were a step ahead and thoroughly deserved their 11-point win.