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Munster's slow start, Leinster on a roll and more talking points from Limerick

Plus, is Jordan Larmour the most outstanding young player in the country?

LEINSTER CAME AWAY from Thomond Park with a hugely-impressive bonus-point win over Munster in this afternoon’s Guinness Pro14 inter-pro. Read our match report here, and below are some talking points from the game.

Munster’s slow start

CJ Stander dejected after the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

This game was lost from a Munster point of view during a horribly sloppy first-half display as the southern province suffered from a European hangover of sorts, gifting Leinster a half-time advantage which, despite a strong comeback, proved too much to claw back.

The hosts were on the back foot right from the kick off when Dan Leavy got over Alex Wootton to win the penalty and Ross Byrne nailed the kick from the right touchline. It set the tone for what was to come, as Munster were guilty of making a series of unforced errors which allowed Leinster gain complete ascendancy and translate that into points on the scoreboard.

Even with a record crowd behind them, Johann van Graan’s side never got going with the head coach admitting afterwards there were ‘no excuses’ for their first-half no-show.

To their credit, Munster came out of the blocks firing after the interval, and could have snatched something in the second period, as they realised throwing the ball around loosely wasn’t going to do much good against this Leinster team.

In going far more direct, Munster reaped the benefits but it was to prove too little, too late as van Graan suffered his first defeat in charge.

A reality check after a progressive couple of weeks? Perhaps, but they have to dust themselves down now for a trip to Belfast to face Ulster this weekend.

Larmour’s moment of genius

Jordan Larmour breaks to score a try Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

With the game in the balance following an intense and absorbing second period of rugby, Leinster needed something to get them over the line — and their 20-year-old fullback duly delivered.

Described as one of the best tries he’s ever seen by Leo Cullen, Jordan Larmour’s 70th minute score definitively settled the contest and once again showed why he is so highly-rated.

Having showed composure to gather Ian Keatley’s up-and-under, the Ireland U20 created something out of absolutely nothing as he weaved his way through three tackles before tearing 60 yards to score in the corner.

Larmour stepped inside Alex Wootton, put Rory Scannell on his backside and then coasted past Ian Keatley with a glorious drop of the shoulder to cap a memorable afternoon for Leinster and their travelling band of supporters in Limerick.

Even van Graan was effusive in his praise of Larmour afterwards and yet again it was a performance of immense maturity from the former St Andrew’s College man as he somehow ousted his effort against Ulster in the try of the season stakes.

Of all the young talent on the books at the eastern province, a lot of which was on show here today, perhaps Larmour is the most outstanding of them all. He has it all.

Leinster on a roll

Jack Conan with Tadhg Furlong celebrate winning Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Leinster weren’t given much of a chance when the teams were announced for this St Stephen’s Day inter-pro, but Cullen’s much-changed side arrived vibrant and fresh and executed a near-perfect gameplan to raid Thomond Park and leave with five valuable points.

In nearly every facet, Leinster were superior and, on the day, different class as their offloading, support play and energy saw them score three first-half tries to stamp their authority all over the contest.

To make 12 changes from victory over Exeter Chiefs last time out and still come to Munster’s fortress and produce a performance of this calibre again underlines the remarkable strength in depth in Cullen’s squad and today’s win is their fifth on the bounce in all competitions.

Furthermore, they’ve now won five of the last six meetings between the inter-provincial rivals, yet it’s hard to remember a more impressive one than this.

Cullen was understandably not all that keen on getting carried away afterwards but both he and his squad can reflect on this trip to Limerick with great satisfaction, as their season rumbles on with huge momentum. They’re now top of Conference B, too.

The games are coming thick and fast and Cullen is expected to make changes again for Connacht on New Year’s Day, but Leinster — whichever team they send out — are building up a head of steam which will be difficult to stop.

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Larmour’s stunning score helps Leinster raid Thomond in inter-pro thriller

As it happened: Munster vs Leinster, Pro14

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