MUNSTER’S wretched record against Leinster at the Aviva Stadium continued on Saturday as the home side inflicted a disappointing 25-14 defeat on their visitors in the Guinness Pro12.
Tries in either half from Leinster captain Isa Nacewa and a gift of a try for replacement scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park helped Leinster record their seventh win in eight Pro12 meetings with Leinster at Lansdowne Road before an official attendance of 40,527.
Munster did manage two tries, from captain Peter O’Mahony and recent South African import Jaco Taute late on.
The disappointing nature of Munster’s second defeat in six Pro12 fixtures this season is a blow to Rassie Erasmus’ side ahead of Champions Cup campaign which kicks off with a daunting away trip to French champions Racing 92 in Paris on Sunday week.
One positive for Munster was the fact that club captain Peter O’Mahony did manage to get 40 minutes of gametime on his first start for the province since recovering from a serious knee injury.
Munster's only win in their last six encounters with Irish provinces was 9-7 over Ulster in Belfast last January.
After Jonathan Sexton had kicked Leinster into a 3-0 lead with a fifth minute penalty, Munster struggled to come to terms with the pitch of the game.
It took a superb cover tackle from Simon Zebo to prevent Leinster captain Isa Nacewa from scoring the game’s opening try in the seventh minute.
However, Leinster doubled their advantage soon afterwards when Sexton knocked over a second penalty from in front of the posts.
Munster enjoyed twice as much possession as Leinster in the opening quarter of an hour, but the home side’s defence was superb in that period.
However, Munster got the foothold in the game the visitors craved in the 25th minute when awarded a penalty inside their opposition ‘22.
Bleyendaal opted for touch and Munster won the line-out through CJ Stander. The Munster pack quickly rallied round to form a well-executed maul which powered its way over the tryline with captain O’Mahony credited with the touchdown.
Bleyendaal added the extras to help Munster into a 7-6 lead.
Munster survived a real scare almost straight from the re-start when Sexton chipped the ball in behind their defence, but Ringrose knocked the ball on trying to collect it with the tryline beckoning.
Leinster did score the try their pressure merited four minutes before half-time. Nacewa raced over in left corner following a scrum when. Munster were down a man on blindside defence. The visitors had been warned of that threat a few moments earlier.. Baffling.
Sexton was off target with the conversion and Leinster led 11-7, an advantage the home side retained until half-time.
Munster, who introduced Jack O’Donoghue for returning captain O’Mahony at half-time, bossed the opening 10 minutes of the second half, but got no reward in terms of further points.
There was plenty of energy and intensity from the visitors. However, their lack of cutting edge proved costly again in the 54th minute when Ross Molony robbed a Munster line-out and the home side moved the ball left and Nacewa sprinted over in the left corner, despite a hint of a forward pass from Rob Kearney in the lead up to the score. Sexton converted to extend Leinster’s lead to 11 points at 18-7.
Leinster replacement Jamison Gibson-Park capitalised on some poor defence by Munster soon after to notch an opportunist third try for the home side. Nacewa converted.
Munster did manage a late consolation try when, after stretching the home side’s defence, South African-born replacement Jaco Taute dotted down.
SCORERS: Leinster: Isa Nacewa two tries, con, Jamison Gibson-Park try, Jonathan Sexton two pens, con. Munster: Peter O’Mahony Jaco Taute try each, Tyler Bleyendaal two cons,
LEINSTER: Rob Kearney; Rory O'Loughlin, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Isa Nacewa (capt); Jonathan Sexton, Luke McGrath; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, Ian Nagle, Rhys Ruddock, Jordi Murphy, Jamie Heaslip. Replacements: Jack McGrath for Healy (48 mins), James Tracy for Cronin, Ross Molony for Nagle (both 53 mins), Dan Leavy for Munster (61 mins), Mike Ross for Furlong, Jamison Gibson-Park for Luke McGrath (both 63 mins), Joey Carbery for Sexton (69 mins), Noel Reid for Kearney (76 mins)
MUNSTER: Simon Zebo; Darren Sweetnam, Keith Earls, Rory Scannell, Ronan O'Mahony; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland, Peter O'Mahony (capt), Tommy O'Donnell, CJ Stander. Replacements: Jack O’Donoghue for O’Mahony (half-time), James Cronin for Kilcoyne (45 mins), Jaco Taute for Earls (57 mins), Stephen Archer for John Ryan (62 mins), Robin Copeland for Ryan (69 mins), Ian Keatley for Rory Scannell (71 mins), Duncan Casey for Scannell (75 mins).
REFEREE: David Wilkinson (Ireland)