15. Adam D’Arcy
While Denis Hurley improved as the Munster v Ulster game progressed, D’Arcy looked lively from the start and kept up the showing. Made a couple of dangerous breaks and showed poise when kicking. Having missed so much of the season through injury, Mark Anscombe will be delighted to have D’Arcy back as cover for Jared Payne.
14. Fergus McFadden
Took responsibility for leading the young Leinster backline and claimed a few testing high balls. Made some brave carries as the Blues camped out in the Connacht 22 in a second-half surge. Danie Poolman showed exciting flashes for Connacht while Doug Howlett was solid for Munster.
13. Eoin Griffin
Has not had the chance to shine for the past two months following the fine outings of Poolman and Dave McSharry in the midfield axis. Made three notable line breaks and was at the heart of Connacht’s best attacking moves.
12. James Downey
The bustling inside centre has taken a while to bed in at Munster but is starting to prove his worth. Took on a lot of ball for bulldozing runs straight up the guts and linked up well with Casey Laulala and Doug Howlett. Connacht’s Dave McSharry was best of the rest at 12.
11. Simon Zebo
The fact that Zebo has kept up his sensational back play, contributed vital tries and been the focal point of Munster’s best backline moves, after his breakthrough season last year, should not be underestimated. Opponents mark his card well in advance of matches yet he still proves elusive. His scything run for the game’s opening try punctured Ulster’s hopes.
10. Ian Madigan
His first 25 minutes was confined to penalty clearances and defensive duties. Excelled when the home side cut loose and scored a super, burrowing try, after a quick tap penalty, to put his side 10 points clear. Along with Boss, he controlled the second-half tempo as Leinster finished on top.
9. Isaac Boss
Was hounded throughout the match by his opposite number, Kieran Marmion, but was vital in goading on the scrambling Leinster pack as Connacht started strongly. Kicked wisely and judiciously. Called the shots as Leinster, aided by the introductions of Mike Ross and Sean Cronin, began to hold sway.
Isaac Boss (right) tackles Paul O’Donohue of Connacht. (©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)
1. Wian du Preez
It was not the same Ulster front row that that busted up Leinster at Ravenhill but the reserves – Callum Black, Rob Herring and Adam Macklin – are no slouches. This was one of du Preez’s best outings this season as he troubled Macklin all evening. An early penalty was awarded as the Ulster scrum backpedaled and the back of du Preez was heartily slapped.
2. Damien Varley
Varley’s contribution to Munster’s work at the breakdown and in the loose often outshines his primary duties. Was part of a dominant front row and his throwing, apart from a second half error, was spot on in difficult weather conditions. Has done well in recent weeks and will push Mike Sherry hard for the hooker spot when the Heineken Cup starts up again in two weeks.
3. Nathan White
Was one of the best players on show in the 34-6 win over Leinster in September and fronted up against his former side again. White and the Connacht front row gave their teammates the platform to put some scores on the board but chances went abegging. The scrum suffered after he was taken off.
4. Donncha O’Callaghan
O’Callaghan may be on the fringes of the Ireland set-up now but he proved at the weekend that he can do the job for Munster for a couple of seasons yet. His counter-rucking helped to slow the Munster attack to a crawl in the second-half and he visibly upset a number of his opponents. The smiling assassin of [formerly] unbeaten Ulster. Ben Marshall had a good outing at 4 for Leinster.
5. Billy Holland
Donncha Ryan has an able deputy in Holland. The lock’s industry and commitment to the inter-pro cause was evident from the opening minutes as he made two hefty challenges and went looking for more. Solid in the lineout and put his hand up with a few straight-up carries. Ulster were sorely missing Johann Muller and Dan Tuohy but Neil McComb can be happy with his outing.
6. Peter O’Mahony
The Corkman was made for inter-pros and he relished the feisty nature of the match from the outset. Secured vital ball for his team as they started to bring their bulky influence to bear. Scored the killer second try that snuffed out Ulster’s hopes and was never far from the fray, and to get in his opponent’s faces.
7. Tommy O’Donnell
O’Donnell’s ball-stealing work at the breakdown was vital in a low-scoring and combative first-half. The back row are starting to click as a unit, with O’Donell and James Coughlan stepping up in recent weeks. Leinster’s Dominic Ryan put in a refreshing performance of energy and bristle after he was called in to start minutes before kick-off as Shane Jennings’ illness ruled him out.
8. Eoin McKeon
Has taken responsibility for ball carries and big, defensive hits since John Muldoon’s November injury. Was one of the best forwards on the field at the RDS. The 21-year-old was hungry for the ball throughout and his tackle count was well over double figures. Leinster’s Jordi Murphy put in another bustling performance.