Leinster see off Munster to move 10 points clear at top of URC table

James Lowe crossed the whitewash twice for the visitors
Leinster see off Munster to move 10 points clear at top of URC table

PA Sport Staff

Leinster outscored Munster by four tries to one to earn a 34-19 bonus-point win at Thomond Park which extends their lead at the top of the United Rugby Championship to 10 points.

James Lowe scored twice after the interval and Jimmy O’Brien also crossed in the second half to add to stand-in captain Garry Ringrose’s 16th-minute effort.

Four Joey Carbery penalties meant Munster were only 14-12 behind at half-time, but they could only muster a Damian de Allende try after the break.

The home side lost powerful carrier Gavin Coombes to injury during the first half, and Leinster’s strong bench helped them to see out the result.

Leo Cullen’s men built a number of early phases before fly-half Byrne kicked them ahead. Carbery, who was tackled high by Jack Conan, landed a levelling 13th-minute penalty.

A smart Leinster move off a lineout had O’Brien and Lowe stretching their legs. The pack pounded away before Byrne swung a pass wide for Ringrose to go over unopposed in the corner.

With the conversion missed, Carbery punished a second high tackle to close the gap to 8-6, before then cancelling out a Byrne effort.

Carbery duly nudged Munster in front with a 36th-minute place-kick, only for Leinster to force a late turnover and set up Byrne to boot them back in front.

Notably, with Caelan Doris becoming more prominent, Leinster went up a gear on the restart as Byrne and Robbie Henshaw sent Lowe reaching over for an unconverted 47th-minute try.

Fineen Wycherley’s late hit on Josh van der Flier soon allowed Byrne to widen the margin to 22-12.

The lead was extended further after some very good hands in midfield – particularly from Henshaw – freed up space for the lively O’Brien to get past Conor Murray and finish smartly. Byrne added the conversion.

Craig Casey’s introduction sparked Munster as they looked for a response, the scrum-half going close from a quick tap before fellow replacement Ben Healy released De Allende for the line. The home crowd erupted and Carbery converted.

It was game on again with Healy at fly-half and Carbery moved to full-back, but Leinster coolly wrapped up the result when Byrne’s scooped pass sent Lowe over in the corner with seven minutes remaining.

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