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Saturday 21 April 2018

Class act Larmour leaves Munster looking red-faced

Blues fast start and Jordan's superb try seal bonus-point win

Leinster’s Devin Toner claims a lineout during yesterday’s PRO14 clash at Thomond Park. Pic: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Leinster’s Devin Toner claims a lineout during yesterday’s PRO14 clash at Thomond Park. Pic: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

It took an astonishing three-quarters the length of the pitch try from Jordan Larmour to seal Leinster's bonus-point win (34-24) over Munster at Thomond Park last night.

The 20-year-old put a few troublesome moments behind him to come up with a try for the ages, leaving three Munstermen rooted to the spot.

The vice-like grip of Dan Leavy earned Leinster a first penalty on the floor which Ross Byrne made look easy from close to the right touchline.

It was immediately clear they were keen to pursue a keep-ball strategy, even from deep.

Still, Munster full-back Andrew Conway was twice required to take the high ball, succeeding the second time for Alex Wootton to show his strength in contact.

When Conway popped-up on the same left wing, the returning Barry Daly was up to the job.

Disarray

Robbie Henshaw, Jack Conan and James Lowe were looking for, and making, the offload for Jordan Larmour to test Conway in the tackle.

The quick ball had Munster in disarray and Byrne's pinpoint kick was taken and touched down by Leavy for Byrne to make it 10-0 in as many minutes.

Then, Wootton's wayward kick was compounded by Stephen Archer's refusal to retreat, Byrne notching three more from 40 metres in the 13th minute.

Something had to change for Munster as their provincial rivals were setting the pace based on time in possession.

It was altered by Ian Keatley's chip and gather, the thrust of Wootton and the support of Conor Murray to cause Leavy to come up offside.

Peter O'Mahony's choice of the corner ahead of the posts was backed-up by the captain's take from Kevin O'Byrne, a smart drive by Jean Kleyn and Murray's power through Jamison Gibson-Park for 13-5 in the 18th minute.

Leinster's reaction was sure and swift, Henshaw's offload and Larmour's devilish kick causing Conway to hamper James Lowe for a penalty try and yellow card in the 21st minute.

The crowd was reduced to stony silence when centre Rory O'Loughlin ducked and dived and wing Daly had the presence of mind to find Robbie Henshaw with yet another offload for the third try, Byrne smacking the conversion for 27-5 in the 24th minute.

The only area Munster were making a mark was at the scrum, their second award prompting O'Mahony to go for the corner again, Keatley over-cooking the kick.

It was a mirror of their first-half as inaccuracy and poor execution made life relatively comfortable for the rampant Blues.

Munster had to have a reaction, Devin Toner failing to use arms in his hit on Wootton.

Hooker Kevin O'Byrne missed his lineout target for the second time in two minutes.

They were still able to find gaps, Leavy halting Keatley and Daly knocking the ball down for a penalty which Keatley angled to the corner. It was the out-half Keatley who rounded off a fierce attack for seven points.

The complexion of the game was completely changed when Conway shot inside Larmour for Keatley to make it 14 Munster points in three minutes. Keatley's tactical kicking was making Leinster very uncomfortable. A simply astounding piece of breakneck continuity had both red and blue stretched to breaking point.

Control

Leinster looked to regain control by going through the phases, Tadhg Furlong, James Tracy and Lowe trucking on.

Munster stood firm and looked on the verge of their fourth try when Leavy stooped to conquer at the ruck.

Then, Larmour mesmerised centres Sam Arnold and Rory Scannell before leaving Keatley clutching thin air for a stunning individual try which Byrne converted for 34-19 in the 71st minute.

And that was that.

Conway completed his second for what was a losing bonus-point only to see Leinster leave with all five.

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