Saturday, April 03, 2010

Munster-15 Leinster-16

JS v Munster

TRIPLE CROWN

Croke Park May 2009, RDS October 2009, Thomond Park April 2010. Three wins over the auld enemy in three different venues all within 12 months. I’m calling that Leinster’s own little Triple Crown and I don’t care who knows it.

I was going to wait until I saw a replay of the match to do my post but really I don’t need to…my view was good enough at The Orchard pub in Rathfarnham and my head was clear enough on account of only having a couple of rock shandys with my son throughout.

I was also going to unleash a rant about Donal Lenihan’s biased Setanta commentary but for once I applaud Mattie Williams for stepping in on Leinster fans’ behalf near the end and giving young Jonny10 some encouraging words for having the stones to convert the winning score (see pic courtesy of rte.ie) moments after yet another bad miss on the night.

This great result for Leinster was really all about being the better squad over the 80 minutes. The home side, led by their temporary skipper O’Gara, started all guns blazing and no one would have expected any less, but minute by minute our forwards squeezed the life out of the Munster attack and by the end when they were chasing the game with little or no chance of catching it.

And yes, O’Gara won the battle of the out-halves, mainly from the kicking tee. It was much more equal between them in open play, but considering the points Sexton left on the park you’d have to give the overall nod to the elder statesman.

Truth be told however, the winning margin should have been wider. Munster only scored through opportunities we gave them and some of them were even unlucky, like our two yellow card incidents. Leo Cullen couldn’t have been expected to do much less than go for the intercept when he was done for deliberate knockon and as for Nathan Hines…his punishment would have been far worse had he NOT get go of the tackle as along with Stan Wright it would have surely been called a spear.

Of course the one try came from a fortunate bounce of the ball for Rob Kearney but it has to be said there was only one team on the night that was going to cross the line. In fact, this is a good place to mention that our southern cousins have now gone 246 minutes without getting a 5-pointer against us.

There were several quality displays from boys in blue, not just man of the match Jamie Heaslip. Kearney, Nacewa and Dempsey were a formidable back three to Munster’s aerial attack and young Devin Toner had a stormer of a first period with several crunching tackles. We werent as dominant in the lineout and scrum as I had hoped but made up for that at the breakdown.

And after all my glowing pro-Leinster bias, THIS is a good place to mention that I very much doubt that Good Friday was the last meeting between these two European giants this season, and despite our “Triple Crown”, the result of the next clash is anything but a foregone conclusion.

Even though neither side was exactly firing on all cylinders, the match at Thomond was a cracking advert for the state of Irish rugby and hopefully both will be able to extend their European involvement next weekend. Because of the top-four playoff system in place in this year’s Magners League, the Heineken Cup quarters would’ve been always to the forefront of the thoughts of the two coaching staffs last night.

But it was nice to retain the bragging rights nonetheless :-)

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