Munster Rugby's Leinster hoodoo strikes again in thumping Pro14 final loss

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent


Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent


Munster Rugby's Leinster hoodoo strikes again in Guinness Pro14 final

Munster's Damian de Allende is tackled by Robbie Henshaw, of Leinster, during Saturday's Guinness Pro14 final at the RDS, Dublin

MUNSTER Rugby's dream of winning a first Guinness PRO14 final in a decade were shattered in a comprehensive 16-6 defeat to arch rivals Leinster at the RDS on Saturday afternoon.

Four-in-a-row Guinness PRO14 winners Leinster were far more comprehensive winners than their 10-point winning margin might suggest.

Leo Cullen's charges monopolised possession and territory for long stages of the game and while Munster clung onto their coat tails to be level, 6-6, at half-time, a 46th minute Jack Conan try finally turned the final in their favour.

Munster struggled to get anything going in attack, failing to register a single point in the second half in windy conditions.

This was a sixth successive defeat for Munster against their provincial rivals and a tenth defeat in the last 11 meetings between the sides.

Leinster have now won six league titles since Munster last lifted silverware in their 2011 final showdown at Thomond Park.

Munster's sense of disappointment was compounded when team captain Peter O'Mahony was forced off with a 48th minute injury.

Johann van Graan's charges don't have long to lick their wounds from Saturday's defeat at French champions Toulouse visit Thomond Park on Saturday next for a Heineken Champions Cup last 16 clash, 3pm

Despite Leinster's superiority in terms of possession and territory during the opening half, Munster found themselves level at half-time, 6-6.

The visitors were fortunate to be on terms after that opening period.

After Munster failed to deal with the kick-off, Leinster took the lead when Ross Byrne landed a third minute penalty and he doubled his side's advantage with a second successful kick at goal in the 11th minute.

Uncharacteristically, Leinster displayed a lack of composure with ball in hand deep inside the Munster '22 on a number of occasions in that opening half with their opponents defence stretched to breaking point.

Gavin Coombes, the only player on either side not capped at full international level, was the one Munster ball carriers to consistently make any inroads into the Leinster defence during a hugely physical opening half.

To their credit, a gritty Munster side soaked up the best their opponents could muster and hauled themselves level by half-time, thanks to two penalty goals from the boot of Joey Conway in the 12th and 40th minutes.

Man of the Match Conan barrelled over for the game's opening try in the 46th minute, with Byrne adding the extras for 13-6.

A 68th minute penalty from Byrne sealed victory for Leo Cullen's charges on a bitterly disappointing day for Munster.

SCORERS: Leinster: Jack Conan try, Ross Byrne three pens, con. Munster: Joey Carbery two pens. 

LEINSTER: Hugo Keenan; Jordan Larmour, Rory O’Loughlin, Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney; Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath (capt); Cian Healy, Rónan Kelleher, Andrew Porter; Devin Toner, Scott Fardy; Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan. Replacements: Ed Byrne for Healy, Tadhg Furlong for Porter (both 53 mins), Ryan Baird for Fardy, Johnny Sexton for Byrne (both 59 mins), Byrne for (62 mins), James Tracy for Kelleher (70 mins), Ross Molony for Ruddock (74 mins), Jamison Gibson-Park for McGrath (76 mins).

MUNSTER: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Damian de Allende, Keith Earls; Joey Carbery, Conor Murray; James Cronin, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Gavin Coombes, Peter O’Mahony (capt), CJ Stander. Replacements: Jack O’Donoghue for O’Mahony (49 mins), Dave Kilcoyne for Cronin, Stephen Archer for Ryan (both 52 mins), Kevin O’Byrne for N Scannell (53 mins), Billy Holland for Kleyn, Craig Casey for Murray, JJ Hanrahan for Carbery (all 70 mins), Rory Scannell for de Allende (74 mins).

REFEREE: Mike Adamson (Scotland)