Wednesday 26 September 2018

Des Berry: O'Brien vows to keep winning feeling

Munster 7 Leinster 24

Zane Kirchner gives a thumbs up after Leinster’s derby win Photo:Sportsfile
Zane Kirchner gives a thumbs up after Leinster’s derby win Photo:Sportsfile
Ian Madigan and Isa Nacewa look tired after all their efforts Photo:Sportsfile

Seán O'Brien's New Year's resolution is to "keep winning" as Leinster moved up to third in the PRO12 League.

This was forecasted as a match-up between leaky boats working in stormy seas.

And Limerick is not exactly a lighthouse port of call for Leinster.

Whether down to trickery or just plain bad luck, Munster were hampered by the withdrawal of Conor Murray, BJ Botha and Denis Hurley, three pillars of their community.

In their places, coach Anthony Foley inserted Tomás O'Leary, John Ryan and Rory Scannell.

Munster took the bump and grind route to making headway. It was all turned over by Jamie Heaslip's timing into O'Leary.

From there, the ball was moved right by Ian Madigan. Seán O'Brien appeared in space with the rookie Garry Ringrose at his shoulder.

The 20-year-old centre sensation exploited Jack O'Donoghue and Andrew Conway because of the decoy support of Fergus McFadden to shovel a ball back inside to Isa Nacewa for a stunning try.

Out-half Ian Madigan converted for 7-0 in the sixth minute.

Next, flanker O'Brien was heavily involved on the charge, and from Heaslip's lineout take, to draw a penalty which Madigan slipped inside the right post in the 15th minute.

Referee David Wilkinson penalised O'Brien for holding on when Heaslip's clear out had Scannell on one foot, the crowd's boisterous interest playing a part there.

The rise of Donnacha Ryan to thieve a Leinster lineout from Devin Toner was another reason for the crowd to get into the game.

They handed away the momentum when Dave Foley didn't wrap his arms around Heaslip at a ruck.

Leinster's inaccuracy at their own ruck let Munster off the hook and O'Leary's hoisting of the ball allied to Conway's chase and contest forced a knock-on out of McFadden.

Physicality in the carry from Francis Saili and CJ Stander culminated in hooker Mike Sherry being held up by O'Brien.

Sadly, in the midst of the surge, Keith Earls was left flat out to be stretchered off.

Munster couldn't budge the Leinster scrum. Saili was held up long enough by McFadden for the cavalry to come to his aid for another scrum.

This time, the ball was moved one out for Robin Copeland to make the most of a messy ruck in scrambling under Reddan for Scannell's extras to reduce it to 10-7 at the break.

Leinster were soon penalised twice by Wilkinson. Munster went for the corner, instead of the leveller.

O'Brien benefited from the poor positioning of Wilkinson to claim a penalty when off his feet.

The thrust from Stander and the upper-body strength of Simon Zebo put Munster in position until the clamping hands of O'Brien halted their attack.

Tadhg Furlong and O'Brien earned the gain line. Madigan's pinpoint kick was taken in by Nacewa to get within sniffing distance of the line.

Jack McGrath hit it up, dropped and placed the ball for the try for Madigan to make it 17-7 in the 55th minute.

A double tackle by Reddan and Marty Moore was problematic because Conway left the ground on his way into the contact.

The penalty came. Saili was wrapped up by Heaslip for a turnover.

Leinster found relief and a penalty from a lineout-maul.

Munster went back to basics. The one-out runners carved out a penalty to the corner.

There, Ross Molony shot up to deny Ryan at the front of the lineout. He repeated the feat against Stander.

Josh van der Flier stole another turnover and Zane Kirchner completed the mission with an interception of Saili for Madigan's conversion to gloss the scoreboard.

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