GETTING HAMMERED ON A FRIDAY NIGHT
Leinster fan or not, there’s no way of putting an objective spin on this one I’m afraid. It was a good old-fashioned tonking by 5 tries to 2 and quite frankly it could have been by a lot more.
I don’t know much about most of the Munster “next generation”, but I’m not sure if I’d be quite so dramatic as to be worried about the province’s future or anything after this one. It’s just that in the first half in particular they were blown away by a Leinster side who played like a squad that has been touring together for weeks, not one patched together from the Pro12 & Academy ranks.
What impressed me most on the night was the passing through the back line, and coach Girvan Dempsey must surely take credit. Whether it was 9 to 10, 10 to 12 or whatever, each ball seemed to go precisely into the path of the runner and it really did look as though every attack was going to lead to a five-pointer.
It didn’t help Munster’s cause that their set-pieces struggled to get going, in particular their lineout, which as you can see from the lead photo had an overthrown dart or two on which Leinster capitalised every time.
Scrum-time was also good for the Leinster pack, and they put on some well-coordinated shoves against the head for which I’d be inclined to give credit to their much-maligned second row pairing of Tom Denton and Quinn Roux, both of whom were well up for this contest and indeed Denton helped himself to one of the tries.
Man-on-the-match had to be out-half Cathal Marsh who really has come on in leaps and bounds in this B&I series and surely must be good for a Pro12 appearance before the season is out. Two tries, a rake of successful placekicks and almost full control of the game management made him an easy choice for me and he got a much-deserved cheer from the Donnybrook crowd when he was substituted towards the end.
Now it wasn’t as if Munster just sat back and took their beating; it took them a while to get both feet in the Leinster 22 but once they did they had something of a purple patch…Rory Scannell got over the line towards the end of the first half but was somehow held up by Sam Coghlan-Murray.
Then in the second period as you would expect they came at the cup holders from the start despite being 25-3 down and they were rewarded when a lineout-maul worked for them in the corner for Shane Buckley.
Although they added a second later through sub Jack O’Donoghue mostly thanks to a sudden absence of Leinster tacklers, the home side were able to respond in kind to each Munster score and the result was really never in doubt.
Noel Reid and Jack Conan got the other two Leinster tries, hooker James Tracy played a significant role in the Denton one and substitute hooker Bryan Byrne had a really impressive cameo, forcing two turnovers along with some good carries towards the end - the Clongowes & Tarf man has had an excellent run in this competition so far.
All in all this occasion went as all the other B&I Cup matches have gone at Donnybrook this season…enthusiastic home crowd, polished Leinster performance, squad numbers on programme not matching the actual ones out on the pitch and of course this blogger forgetting to bring a pen and having to blag one from the club shop.
Sure what else would you be doing of a Friday evening before a massive Heineken Cup weekend?
Leinster A now play the winner of Sunday’s clash between Cornish Pirates and Pontypridd in the semis, and you’d have to expect Bristol to overcome Leeds in the other one. So if Leinster reach the final it will make for an interesting match for Bristol-bound Jack O’Connell and Darren Hudson! Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself a tad…
Hello to all those reading this either in or on their way to Toulon; I’m not jealous at all, I swear ;-) JLP