Colm Kinsella was at Thomond Park as Munster were beaten 24-7 by Leinster in the Guinness Pro 12.
MISFIRING Munster have slumped to their fifth successive defeat in all competitions for the first time in 12 seasons after suffering a hugely disappointing 24-7 defeat to Leinster in their high stakes Guinness Pro12 derby clash at Thomond Park on Sunday night.
Munster fell to their third straight defeat at Thomond Park before a stated sell-out attendance of 25,600 to fall to sixth place in the Guinness Pro12 table.
Once again Munster’s inability to convert possession into points and the concession of a whopping 17 turnovers were key ingredients in the home side’s frustrating defeat.
Munster, clearly struggling for confidence after a poor run of results, have managed to score an average of just 9.5 points over their last four fixtures and that lack of clinical edge is threatening to unravel the province’s season in spectacular fashion.
Next up for Munster is another difficult inter-provincial assignment, this time away to Ulster at Kingspan Stadium on January 2.
Munster were forced into three late changes with Conor Murray (hip injury), BJ Botha (illness) and Denis Hurley forced to miss the game. Into the side came Tomas O’Leary, John Ryan and Rory Scannell.
Leinster made the perfect start when captain Isa Nacewa touched down after four minutes after Jamie Heaslip had won an excellent turnover deep inside the Munster half and exciting centre Garry Ringrose made a smashing break up the middle of the pitch. Ian Madigan, tipped for a possible move to Munster next summer, added the conversion and a 14th minute penalty as Leinster built a sizeable 10-0 lead.
Munster’s cause was not helped by unfortunate injuries to prop James Cronin and winger Keith Earls, who was taken off on a stretcher after appearing to get a bang to the head. However, the home side was finally rewarded for dominating possession and territory when Robin Copeland burrowed over from close range on 38 minutes. Rory Scannell duly converted to cut Leinster’s lead to 10-7 at half-time.
Munster’s dominance of first-half possession was clearly highlighted in stats which showed the home side made 96 carries to Leinster’s 44 in the opening 40 minutes. Munster had little reward to show for all that industry and endeavour, however.
Munster had two opportunities to have a kick at goal when awarded penalties in the opening stages of the second half, but opted for a kick to the corner instead. Fortune didn’t favour the home side on this occasion as Leinster cleared their lines. And the visitors made their hosts pay when Jack McGrath went over the tryline from close range. Madigan converted and as Munster chased a losing bonus point late on, Leinster full-back Zane Kirchner scored an intercept try to seal victory for Leo Cullen’ charges.
SCORERS - Munster: Robin Copeland try, Rory Scannell con. Leinster: Isa Nacewa, Jack McGrath, Zane Kirchner try each, Ian Madigan three cons, pen
MUNSTER: Andrew Conway; Keith Earls, Francis Saili, Rory Scannell, Simon Zebo; Tyler Bleyendaal, Tomas O’Leary; James Cronin, Mike Sherry, John Ryan, Dave Foley, Donnacha Ryan, Robin Copeland, Jack O’Donoghue, CJ Stander (capt). Replacements: Dave Kilcoyne for Cronin (injured 19 mins), Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino for Earls (injured 34 mins), Tommy O’Donnell for O’Donoghue, Duncan Williams for O’Leary, Denis Hurley for Bleyendaal (all 58 mins), Billy Holland for Foley (62 mins), Niall Scannell for Sherry (65 mins), Mario Sagario for John Ryan (72 mins).
LEINSTER: Zane Kirchner; Fergus McFadden, Garry Ringrose, Luke Fitzgerald, Isa Nacewa (capt); Ian Madigan, Eoin Reddan; Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, Tom Denton, Dominic Ryan, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip. Replacements: James Tracy for Cronin, Marty Moore for Furlong, Cian Healy for McGrath (all 56 mins), Ross Molony for Denton (60mins), Josh van der Flier for O’Brien (70 mins), Jack McGrath for Healy (74 mins).
REFEREE: David Wilkinson (IRFU)