Conor Murray’s try double drove Munster to their first win over Leinster since December 2018 as they began the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup with a stellar 27-3 success at the RDS.
There was plenty of niggle in an error-strewn first half which ended 10-3 in Munster’s favour. Joey Carbery tagged a penalty onto Murray’s fourth-minute score, while replacement David Hawkshaw kicked Leinster’s points.
Much closer to full-strength than their arch rivals, Munster came through Stephen Archer’s sin-binning unscathed. There was no way back for Leinster after another Carbery penalty, Murray’s second try and a 71st-minute penalty try.
With the hosts resting a number of players ahead of next week’s European semi-final against La Rochelle, this strong Munster selection were quietly fancied to reverse last month’s PRO14 final defeat.
Indeed, their fit-again captain Peter O’Mahony swiftly pickpocketed Hugh O’Sullivan and Damian de Allende used the turnover to thunder downfield, delaying his pass superbly to send Murray over, with Carbery converting.
Injuries before kick-off had already left Leinster without Caelan Doris and Ciaran Frawley, and Harry Byrne’s early departure brought Hawkshaw on at fly-half. The academy youngster nailed a ninth-minute penalty to stem any nerves.
Both sides were guilty of giving away cheap possession but, with CJ Stander, Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne all prominent, Munster were winning the collisions.
As they pressed for a second try, a TMO review landed prop Archer in the bin for use of his studs on James Ryan at a ruck. However, O’Mahony stole the subsequent line-out and Carbery punished a Scott Penny infringement with three points.
Hawkshaw missed a penalty from a tight angle just before half-time and Leinster’s try-scoring radar was off early in the second half. A crucial turnover penalty, won by Niall Scannell and Jack O’Donoghue, thwarted the PRO14 champions.
Carbery soon kicked Munster into a 13-3 lead after being tackled off the ball by Ryan Baird. When Leinster finally got James Lowe and Garry Ringrose in full flow, de Allende – the player of the match – slammed the door shut with a turnover.
The result was effectively sealed when Murray dived over from a 61st-minute ruck, capitalising on a powerful de Allende carry and some nice interplay between replacement Gavin Coombes and Chris Farrell.
Carbery’s conversion widened the margin to 17 points and, as Munster comprehensively ended a run of six straight losses to Leinster, a well-executed maul earned them a penalty try. Leinster debutant Cormac Foley was sin-binned for an illegal collapse.