Match Report: Munster 29-17 Leinster – Irish Christmas Cracker
Munster scored four tries to beat Leinster 29-17 at Thomond Park on Boxing Day
Simon Zebo and Ronan O’Mahony went over to give Munster a 14-0 lead at halftime
Tommy O’Donnell and CJ Stander scored second-half tries to secure the bonus-point win
BY SABENA MOYLAN
As you arrive at Thomond Park the anticipation and excitement is palpable. Lots of talk around Thomond Park that the Leinster Team is not at full strength that is irrelevant on Derby day. Each and every year the Munster v Leinster Christmas Derby is top of everyone’s Rugby calendar.
Clash of the Titans an age old rivalry in the Guinness Pro 12. As the teams warm up Leinster are wearing number 8 t- shirts as a mark of respect to the late Anthony Foley , massive respect from the boys of blue to their rivals in Munster. The teams line out the noise is deafening 26,200 fans are to their feet let the battle begin.
The man in the middle for today’s crunch game is a popular man in Limerick Referee Nigel Owens. Whistle is blown the battle has begun. Game starts off a little flat the crowd slowly getting into the festive spirit, as Stand up and Fight belts out across Thomond Park its game on.
Both teams start off well Munster with a lot of ball in Leinsters 22. The tide is quickly turned and Leinster are the first team over the try line try after 17 minutes scored by Kircher converted beautifully by Nacewa. Munster don’t let the dust settle they come out attacking Leinsters strong defence, Zebo is over the line. After much deliberation by the match officials a try is awarded. Conversion kicked sublimely by Bleyendaal. 22 minutes on the clock 7-7 to both sides. Both sides of equal measure coming up to the 26th minute mark Leinster are awarded a penalty, kicked again by number 10 for Leinster Ica Nacewa. Munster 7-10 Leinster.
Approaching half time Munster keep hold of most of the possession in Leinsters 22 it proves to be rewarding with a try from Munsters number 11 Ronan O’Mahony. Before the conversion is taken Owens goes to the TMO for a tackle on Sweetman by Leinsters Kircher, nothing is awarded. Conversion taken by Bleyendaal 14-10 to Munster at the half time break.
Second half commences Darren Sweetman hasn’t returned for the next forty replaced by number 23 Andrew Conway. Munster have come firing out of the traps its attack attack attack. A lovely cross field kick from the posts to Tommy O Donnell waiting on the wing try for Munster converted by Bleyendaal 21-10 to the home side Munster.
Leinster can’t seem to retain much ball ,Munster once again on the attack and in Leinster’s 22 the unstoppable CJ Stander no questions asked it’s a try for the South African native Stander, conversion missed by Tyler Bleyendaal 59 minutes gone 26-10 to Munster. Owens awards a penalty for Munster. You could not have asked for a better location than in front of the posts with Bleyendaal kicking successfully to make it 29-10 to Munster.
Both Coaches clearing the benches at 63 minutes with the skilful Francis Saili returning after a lengthy injury to replace Jaco Taute much to delight and rapturous applause of the home fans. Saili making an impact but falied to make it past the 5 metre line to put more points on the board for Munster. Leinster seemed to have awoken attacking the Munster line, try to Leinster scored by Strauss kicked by Nacewa 3 minutes remaining on the clock Munster23 Leinster17.
Leinster are battling on attacking Munsters 22 but falling at the final hurdle. It was not to Leinster’s day the new Munster the team that has been reborn have managed to make it a home victory. Munster 29 Leinster 17 at full time. Another Man of the Match performance by CJ Stander winning him the title. That is definitely some collection the man from South Africa has to date and rightly so…Stander along with Munster are making their mark this season. A force to be reckoned with and anyone coming to the fortress that is Thomond Park will have their work cut out for them.
Tries:Zebo, O’Donnell, Stander, O’Mahony
Cons: Bleyendaal 3
Tries: Kirchner, Strauss
Cons: Nacewa, Molony
Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Ronan O’Mahony, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 Peter O’Mahony (c), 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 James Cronin
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Jack O’Donoghue, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Francis Saili, 23 Andrew Conway
Leinster: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Isa Nacewa (c), 13 Rory O’Loughlin, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Barry Daly, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park 8 Jack Conan, 7 Dan Leavy, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 James Tracy, 1 Cian Healy
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Ian Nagle, 20 Dominic Ryan, 21 Charlie Rock, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Tom Daly
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)