Saturday 28 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
©INPHO/Ryan Byrne Munster's Casey Laulala and Ronan O'Gara with Fergus McFadden of Leinster.
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Reaction: Munster show plenty of fight but can’t stop Leinster charging through the front door
Rob Penney will be furious at his side’s inability to stop the straight-up running of Strauss, Conway and McFadden.

THERE WAS A lot of talk before Saturday evening’s Aviva Stadium clash about the players that would not be lining out for Leinster and Munster but a few of the players that took to the pitch made sure they were far from everyone’s thoughts.

Richardt Strauss, Fergus McFadden and Andrew Conway were fantastic for the home side as Leinster hurt Rob Penney’s side out on the wings and straight up the middle.

Peter O’Mahony and Mike Sherry were two of Munster’s best performers with the Number 8 showing a lot of class and determination in a losing cause.

What will concern Penney is the fact that his side missed so many first up tackles that saw fledgling Leinster attacks mushroom into damaging try-scoring sequences.

Strauss did fantastically to touch the ball down when facing skywards with only minutes on the clock but he should have been chopped down in the build-up to Ian Madigan’s try.

Ronan O’Gara grappled with Madigan’s ankles but couldn’t prevent the try. He will be more disappointed with allowing Fergus McFadden to feign a pass then crash up the middle on 54 minutes.

Munster were on the back foot after that and within 60 seconds Brian O’Driscoll was crashing over for his side’s third try of the evening.

Coughing up momentum

Speaking to after the match, Penney lamented the missed tackles but was most upset by the mistakes his side made in promising positions, particularly late in the second half during the red surge.

He declared that the referee should have called for the TMO after Casey Laulala had dived over for a try that, had it been given, would have made it a one-score game.

Penney and Leinster coach Joe Schmidt greeted each other with warm smiles and a firm handshake amid the post-match interviews beneath the Aviva stands but the former Canterbury coach was not around to hear Schmidt confess that he had not seen the Laulala incident.

That would have certainly drawn a rueful grin from the imposing but engaging Penney.

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Schmidt’s main concern, apart from the frequent concession of needless penalties in the first half, was further injuries to his top performers.

Kevin McLaughlin, he revealed, had a hyper-extended elbow while O’Driscoll had an ankle-knock, Conway had a blow to the head and Isa Nacewa a haematoma borne out of an airborne collision with Conor Murray.

Schmidt, as winning coaches are wont to do, took a big positive from the performance of replacement flanker Jordi Murphy. He highlighted a tackle by Murphy late in the game that saw Donnacha Ryan spill the ball due to the massive impact.

If Leinster’s young guns can continue to step up when it counts, they should be in good shape once the fitness Gods deign to smile on them again.

In Pictures: Leinster beat Munster at the Aviva Stadium

As it happened: Leinster v Munster, RaboDirect PRO12