Colm Kinsella rates the Munster players after their win over Leinster in Thomond Park on Saturday night.
Felix Jones 7
First start for full-back Jones since Munster’s Heineken Cup semi-final defeat to Clermont as he underwent shoulder during the summer. Competent and assured display here. Opportunities to attack were limited, however.
Keith Earls 9
Deployed in the centre against the Dragons last weekend, but the versatile Earls was back on the right wing for this inter-provincial clash. Smashing performance here. Showed terrific footwork to beat Rob Kearney in the lead up to game’s decisive try.
Casey Laulala 8
Fourth start in five PRO12 for Laulala who was rested against the Dragons. Very solid defensively and threatening with ball in hand. Looks to have rediscovered his best form
James Downey 8
Downey founded himself reunited with Laulala in the Munster midfield for his second start of the season. Said in the lead-up to the game that this derby match means more to Munster’s Leinster-born contingent and it looked like it with his all-action, imposing display.
Simon Zebo 7
Lion Zebo continues to work his way back to full throttle after his exertions in Australia during the summer. Improving with every outing. Poses a constant threat with ball in hand and sure to be key attacking figure in upcoming Heineken Cup games,
Ian Keatley 9
Fascinating battle of two young number tens as Keatley went head-to-head with Leinster’s Ian Madigan. The Munster fly-half who was left out of Ireland’s squad for the upcoming autumn internationals and it may just have spurred him on to turn in his most complete day in Ronan O’Gara’s old jersey yet.
Duncan Williams 7
Selected to start ahead of Cathal Sheridan with the returning Conor Murray listed among the replacements. A few inaccurate passes aside, Williams did well. Will be fascinating to see whether Penney has Williams or Sheridan on the bench for upcoming Heineken Cup pool fixtures.
David Kilcoyne 7
Important fixture for Kilcoyne given the impressive progress young gun James Cronin has made during the opening weeks of the season. Scrummaged well and remains a powerful ball carrier. Will become even more effective as season wears on.
Mike Sherry 7
Sherry appears to be ahead of Damien Varley in the pecking order for the number two jersey, judging by his selection for his marquee fixture. Line-out throwing was accurate on the night with Munster winning six from six on their own throw when Sherry was on the pitch.
Stephen Archer 7
The talented tighthead has made an impressive start to the season, given his opportunity to impress with BJ Botha sidelined through a knee injury. Archer was defensively very solid and is a reliable ball-carrying option. Big performance in the scrum too where he got the better of Cian Healy on a number of occasions.
Donnacha Ryan 8
Second row Ryan will be hoping he made sufficient impression to gain starts in the Munster engine room for the upcoming Heineken Cup fixtures. Workrate was top class throughout and will improve from this outing. Offers a formidable physical presence.
Paul O’Connell 8
O’Connell was making his first start since the Lions tour of Australia this summer when he broke a bone in his arm. Took over the captaincy in the second half when Peter O’Mahony went on injured. Sure to be a key figure for Munster in the upcoming Heineken Cup fixtures.
Peter O’Mahony 6
Picked up a bang to the head shortly before half-time and was replaced by CJ Stander at the interval. Munster management team will hope the province’s captain will be available for the upcoming Heineken Cup pool fixtures, starting with Edinburgh on Saturday.
Niall Ronan 7
Recalled to the starting line-up after featuring for Shannon in Division 1B of the AIL at the same venue just a week earlier. Justified his selection for Munster by turning in a highly effective display in the fiercely competitive back-row battle.
James Coughlan 7
Looks set to start the upcoming Heineken Cup pool fixtures against Edinburgh and Gloucester at number eight. One of Munster’s unsung heroes, who goes about his business with the minimum of fuss, but is highly effective.
CJ Stander 7
Came on for the injured Peter O’Mahony at half-time and made a decent impact. A quality ball-carrier, Stander will hope he has done enough to persuade coach Penney to include him on the bench at least for upcoming Heineken Cup tests.
Conor Murray 8
Coach Penney believes Murray has the potential to be the best scrum half in the world. Was hugely impressive here when introduced for Williams after 53 minutes. Passing was crisp and assured and box kicking remains pinpoint accurate.
James Cronin 7
The young prop continues to impress with every outing. Scrummaged very well, albeit his direct opponent is also relatively inexperienced at this level. Cronin continues to put pressure on Kilcoyne, which should benefit both players.
Damien Varley, BJ Botha, Denis Hurley and Donncha O’Callaghan:
(Not on long enough to be rated)