Munster produced a disappointing performance as they lost out to Leinster in the first of their interprovincial derbies this afternoon.
The somewhat flattering 6 point defeat continues a dismal record for Munster at the Aviva Stadium, now four defeats in the past 12 months at the Dublin venue.
On a positive note, a late Earls try secured a losing bonus point for Rassie Erasmus’ men as they now turn their attention to Europe.
Despite a bright start with the experimental centre partnership of Bleyendaal and Chris Farrell linking up well, this was never a match that Munster were going to dominate.
They did look as though they had opened the scoring when the returned Keith Earls crossed the line after brilliant work from Farrell. However his pass was correctly deemed forward, and from there, Munster began to fade.
Their defence was again the major talking point as a brilliant piece of quick thinking from centre, Rory O’Loughlin scattered Munster and he crossed easily under the posts, with Man-of-the-Match Jonathan Sexton adding the conversion.
Things went from bad to worse for the visitors when Niall Scannell was then yellow carded for a deliberate knock on.
In a passage completely against the run of play, Keatley cleverly intercepted a poor pass from his opposite number and scored, kicking the extras himself.
Rather than kick on, Munster again found themselves on the back foot in no time, with Leinster utilising the boot of Sexton to great effect. The outhalf starred in his sides second try when a brilliant wrap around from himself and Furlong caught Munster on the wing and O’Loughlin easily finished his brace of tries.
Munsters ill-discipline cost them dearly with Sexton on blistering form and he increased the gap to 17-7 just after half-time following a high tackle from Farrell.
A moment of brilliance from Tommy O’Donnell saw him make a 50 metre break through the middle of the field before Earls finished in the corner – no TMO required this time. Crucially, Hanrahan missed the conversion and left the gap at five.
Leinster, through Sexton, went on the hunt to kill off their prey, scoring two more penalties. Munster were awarded a rare penalty but when their trademark rolling maul failed and Leinster cleared their lines, it was game over with Earls second try securing the losing bonus point.
Munster must now put this defeat behind them as they face a trip to France to play Castres in their opening European Cup game next weekend before welcoming Racing 92 to Thomond, for what’s sure to be an emotional clash in the week of the first anniversary of former Head Coach, Anthony Foley.
LEINSTER: Joey Carbery, Adam Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin, Robbie Henshaw, Barry Daly (McFadden 73), Jonathan Sexton (C) (Byrne 76), Luke McGrath (Gibson-Park 62); Jack McGrath (Healy 49), James Tracy (Cronin 49), Tadhg Furlong (Bent 49), Devin Toner, Scott Fardy (Molony 69), Rhys Ruddock (Murphy 62), Josh van der Flier (Ruddock 76), Jack Conan.
MUNSTER: JJ Hanrahan, Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Tyler Bleyendaal (R Scannell 67), Keith Earls, Ian Keatley (Wootton 45), Conor Murray (Williams 72); Dave Kilcoyne (O’Connor 68), Niall Scannell (Marshall 68), John Ryan (Archer 45), Robin Copeland (Flanagan 70), Billy Holland, Peter O’Mahony (C), Tommy O’Donnell (O’Donoghue 63), CJ Stander.
REFEREE: Ben Whitehouse (WRU)