"They got walked over, like schoolboys" - The Leinster try that will stick in Munster's craw
"I don't think Munster are that far off."
While many of us will be dealing with festive hangovers and fuzzy time-lapses, the Munster players that faced Leinster at Thomond Park, on Monday, will have woken up with a different sort of fear.
After 43 minutes of their festive inter-pro against Leinster, Graham Rowntree's side had fought hard to win the upper hand. A well-worked lineout and rolling maul had seen referee Chris Busby award a penalty tree, which put Munster 14-6 ahead, and send Max Deegan to the sin-bin.
Munster were eight points clear, with a man advantage, momentum and loud home support behind them. Antoine Frisch was flying, Peter O'Mahony, Gavin Coombes and Tadhg Beirne all had big moments. Leinster had a strong bench to call upon, but another Munster score in the next 10 minutes would put them in a sizeable hole.
By the time Deegan returned, however, Leinster lead by six points and it was James Lowe and Ross Molony giving it all that after a fine Dan Sheehan tap-and-go penalty. The television microphones picked up some post-score comments that even Munster's most ardent supporters would find it hard to argue with.
On 48 minutes, Scott Penny had scored after a smartly worked tap-penalty from close range. Dan Sheehan tapped and Leinster sent Penny left and Luke McGrath right, with the ball pulled back to the flanker to score. Five minutes later, there was another close-range penalty.
"I don't think we're going to see a trick-play here," said Bernard Jackman, up in the commentary booth. "They're just going to go for it."
Go for it Sheehan did, and he crashed through Niall Scannell and Dave Kilcoyne to score.
As the Leinster players celebrated, a voice from their huddle could be heard - on the referee's microphone - exclaiming, "Easy! That's it. Easy!" while James Lowe ran in shouting, "Well done boys. Well done!" In the background, Molony and Scannell exchanged views after grabbing scruffy holds of each others' jerseys.
53 nóim #MUNvLEI@Munsterrugby - 14@leinsterrugby - 20
Úd uimhir a hocht ag Dan Sheehan sa séasúr seo agus tá na Laighingh chun tosaigh arís
Dan Sheehan gets his eighth try of the season as he gives Leinster the lead again@IrishRugby @URCOfficial#URC #Rugby pic.twitter.com/OA6NT3EiEq
— Spórt TG4 (@SportTG4) December 26, 2022
Max Deegan would return to finish out the game, with Leinster spending most of the final five minutes in the Munster 22 after conceding a try to young back Patrick Campbell in the right-hand corner.
On House of Rugby [LISTEN from 3:00 below], Jason Hennessy and Lindsay Peat gave their take on the key moments from another battling Leinster win, and a gutting Munster defeat.
'Munster should have defended it better'
"To be honest with you," said Jason Hennessy, "the only thing [from a Munster perspective] that let me down was that second Leinster try.
"That Scott Penny try was magic from him and Sheehan. But if you look at Sheehan's try again, they're all standing up trying to tackle the Leinster lads, and they got walked over like schoolboys. It was so easy... Munster should have defended it better."
"The fact that Sheehan scored against Scannell and Kilcoyne, two of Munster's more experienced men, was all the more disappointing, " said Lindsay Peat.
"Munster made shit of Leinster's breakdown, bullied them at the scrum and the lineouts were an absolute battle. It was men against boys, at times... but the young lads at Leinster wilkl get great experience out of coming through with a one-point win when they weren't really at it."
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