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Dublin: 15 °C Wednesday 19 June, 2019
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Good afternoon and welcome along to the RDS for the second of this year’s Guinness Pro14 semi-finals as Leinster, the defending champions, put their title on the line against Munster.

A sold-out crowd of over 18,000 are expected at the Ballsbridge venue for the third meeting of these two provincial rivals this season, with a place in next week’s decider against Glasgow Warriors at stake.

Inter-pro derbies between Leinster and Munster rarely need to be hyped up but this one has all the ingredients to be a classic, with sub-plots abound on a perfect afternoon for knockout rugby in the capital.

After last week’s Champions Cup final defeat to Saracens, Leo Cullen’s side are bidding to bounce back and salvage their season, but face a highly-motivated Munster outfit desperate to end their eight-year wait for silverware.

The atmosphere is already building in and around the RDS and kick-off is fast approaching at 2.30pm. We’ll have all the build-up between now and then right here, so stick with us.

The scene is set at the RDS. 

A general view a match day programme and Leinster jersey Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A general view of the RDS ahead of the game Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

A general view a Guinness PRO14 badge on a Munster jersey Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ryan Bailey here at the RDS to guide you through all the action as it happens, while Murray Kinsella is also here as we bring you live coverage of what promises to be a thrilling semi-final derby. 

Feel free to get in touch throughout the afternoon in the usual places with your comments and thoughts. 

TEAM NEWS: Leo Cullen has made four changes to his starting XV from Newcastle, with Johnny Sexton, Rob Kearney, Seán O’Brien and Scott Fardy all dropping out. 

The big call is leaving Sexton on the bench in favour of Ross Byrne, while O’Brien misses out on an RDS swansong after failing to come through Thursday’s training session.

Dave Kearney comes into the side, with Jordan Larmour switching to fullback, while Rhys Ruddock captains the hosts and Josh van der Flier makes his injury comeback after groin surgery.

Leinster:

15. Jordan Larmour
14. Dave Kearney
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. James Lowe
10. Ross Byrne
9. Luke McGrath

1. Cian Healy
2. Seán Cronin
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Devin Toner
5. James Ryan
6. Rhys Ruddock (captain)
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Jack Conan.

Replacements:

16. Bryan Byrne
17. Ed Byrne
18. Andrew Porter
19. Scott Fardy
20. Max Deegan
21. Nick McCarthy
22. Johnny Sexton
23. Rory O’Loughlin.

TEAM NEWS: As for Munster, they are boosted by the return to fitness of Joey Carbery — who is back at the RDS for the first time since his summer move south — and Keith Earls.

Johann van Graan has made four changes in personnel from the quarter-final win over Benetton a fortnight ago, with Carbery and Earls back in, while John Ryan and Arno Botha start in the pack.

CJ Stander starts at openside alongside Peter O’Mahony and Botha in a bulky back row unit for the visitors. 

Munster:

15. Mike Haley
14. Andrew Conway
13. Chris Farrell
12. Rory Scannell
11. Keith Earls
10. Joey Carbery
9. Conor Murray

1. Dave Kilcoyne
2. Niall Scannell
3. John Ryan
4. Jean Kleyn
5. Tadhg Beirne
6. Peter O’Mahony (captain)
7. CJ Stander
8. Arno Botha.

Replacements:

16. Kevin O’Byrne
17. Liam O’Connor
18. Stephen Archer
19. Billy Holland
20. Jack O’Donoghue
21. Alby Mathewson
22. JJ Hanrahan
23. Dan Goggin.

This is Leinster’s ninth Pro14 semi-final in the last 10 years, with all those clashes being at the RDS, where their only defeat at this stage was to Scarlets two years ago.

The two provinces have met in five previous semi-finals in all competitions with Munster winning the first two, while Leinster have emerged victorious in the last three last-four ties. 

Which way do you see today going?


Poll Results:

Leinster (296)
Munster  (207)


The teams are out! Our referee today is Mike Adamson from Scotland.

Flag 1Mins

KICK OFF! Ross Byrne gets us underway, with Leinster playing from left to right as we look in this first half.

1Mins

1 min – Conor Murray gathers the kick-off, but his kick downfield only invites Leinster to run straight back at them through Jordan Larmour and then the returning Josh van der Flier. A purposeful start from the hosts. 

2Mins

2 mins — Just the start Leo Cullen would have wanted from his side. With a penalty advantage, they move it through the hands left and Larmour creates the overlap for the freewheeling Lowe, with Haley putting in a brave tackle to half the Kiwi winger’s rampaging run. Kearney is there in support but knocks it on and we’re coming back for the penalty. 

3Mins

3 mins — Penalty! Leinster 3-0 Munster (Byrne)

Byrne calls for the tee and strikes his first effort sweetly between the sticks to get Leinster up and running. A nice settler for the out-half.  

4Mins

4 mins – Clever restart from Munster as Haley taps Carbery’s short kick-off back and then the visitors win the scrum when a blue hand knocks it on. Solid platform for van Graan’s to build from here. 

5Mins

5 mins – And it’s good ball for Murray to move it right off the back of the scrum, with Leinster then pinged for not rolling away. Carbery will have the chance to hit back immediately. 

5Mins

5 mins — Penalty! Leinster 3-3 Munster (Carbery)

And he makes no mistake from that far right side to level the scores. Good clean strike from Carbery into a bit of a breeze. 

7Mins

7 mins – Worrying signs for Leinster as a lineout on this near side completely malfunctions with Cronin’s throw going awry. They had problems with their set-piece in Newcastle last week and that’s hardly inspiring for Cullen and John Fogarty to see so early on here. 

Anyway, Adamson’s whistle then blows but there is a bit of needle between Ruddock and Botha after the event. Munster will have the scrum just inside their own half.

8Mins

8 mins – After the handbags, Munster win the scrum penalty and Carbery kicks them into the Leinster half. Scannell finds O’Mahony and Farrell crashes up the midfield channel with a big carry. 

9Mins

9 mins – Huge steal from Henshaw! Munster look dangerous in attack as their big ball-carriers hammer away around the fringes, but then the Ireland centre gets over the ball to rip it back for his side. McGrath completes the clearance with a box-kick, but back come the visitors…

10Mins

10 mins – As expected, this game is being played at a million miles an hour inside these opening exchanges. Munster enjoying plenty of success in the collision zone but Leinster have responded with a couple of big defensive sets. The visitors have had 58% possession and 61% territory. 

11Mins

11 mins – Leinster soak up all the pressure and then Ringrose makes a searing linebreak from his own half. The hosts recycle and with a penalty advantage have numbers out wide, where excellent hands from JVDF and Lowe sets Ruddock away. 

Munster are scrambling but they do well to get back and slow down the ball, before Leinster move it back towards this near side. They’re inside the red zone now.

16Mins

16 mins – A breathless passage of play comes to an end but Leinster will have the throw on the far side. Toner is lifted in the lineout but it’s a dummy play from the hosts, as Cronin throws it short to Ryan, who in turn plays a one-two with the hooker. JVDF is on his shoulder but Munster shut the door and bundle him out of play. 

17Mins

17 mins – Incredible intensity to this contest already. Larmour again looks to attack Munster out wide but his pass is fumbled by Cronin and it’ll be a red ball on the far side. 

20Mins

20 mins – The Munster lineout is a bit sloppy but Stander retains possession for his side, before they again use Farrell as a big ball-carrier in midfield. The centre has been hit on three separate occasions off the set-piece already and it’s certainly effective from a Munster perspective.

21Mins

21 mins — Munster have seen plenty of the ball in this half and off another excellent scrum platform, Scannell finds space in midfield before Ringrose times his hit on Carbery perfectly — but the Leinster man is penalised for knocking the ball on by Adamson. The home fans aren’t happy with that decision. 

22Mins

22 mins — Munster are making huge inroads around the fringes, with Stander, Farrell and Botha all making ferocious carries. After again remaining patient in the close quarters, they have an overlap out right here but Lowe slaps Stander’s pass down and the Leinster winger could be in trouble here. Munster had three men free there. 

25Mins

25 mins — Yellow! Adamson pulls it back for that penalty and correctly sends Lowe to the bin, who was, of course, red-carded in this fixture at Thomond Park back in December. Carbery has called for the tee. 

26Mins

26 mins — Penalty! Leinster 3-6 Munster (Carbery)

From pretty much the same position as his first penalty, Carbery makes no mistake from 25 metres to give Munster a deserved lead. 

29Mins

29 mins – Munster have enjoyed superiority at scrum time and another big shove from their pack earns a penalty from Adamson, with Stander and Botha letting Leinster know all about it. Carbery finds a good touch into the breeze on this near side. 

30Mins

30 mins – But it’s not clean and Leinster do well to snatch possession back through Healy. Munster are quickly up to Byrne as he kicks from his own 22, the towering up-and-under fielded brilliantly in midfield by Haley. Munster ball again. 

31Mins

31 mins – Now it’s Leinster’s turn to pat each other on the back. Conan is barreling into tackles out there and then JVDF gets over the ball to win the turnover penalty, with Kleyn the man not releasing. 

32Mins

32 mins – Robbie Henshaw is making his way off for an HIA after that passage, with Rory O’Loughlin on into the Leinster midfield. Both he and Ringrose have worked well in tandem there previously, notably against Bath at the Aviva before Christmas. 

33Mins

33 mins – You can’t take your eyes off this one. Leinster come charging into Munster territory off the lineout and Adamson’s arm is out-stretched again as a red shirt strays offside. 

34Mins

34 mins — Penalty! Leinster 6-6 Munster (Byrne)

Byrne takes his time, throwing a few pieces of grass into the air to assess the wind, and he sends it straight between the sticks to level proceedings again. James Lowe is back on after serving his 10-minute punishment. 

37Mins

37 mins – Munster didn’t really take advantage of Lowe’s time in the bin and the home fans have found their voice again as we approach half-time. Carbery is down requiring some treatment on his shoulder after he shipped an almighty hit from Conan, before Cullen’s men win a penalty on the far side. Kleyn penalised again after sacking the lineout maul. 

39 mins – Turnovers all over the place as the sides scrap for possession but there’s real concern here for Devin Toner who stays down after getting his left knee trapped under a couple of bodies. The big second row is being helped off by the medics, with Scott Fardy on in his place.

Henshaw, meanwhile, has passed his HIA and is back on for O’Loughlin. 

39Mins

39Mins

39 mins – Here come Munster again through Farrell, who continues to cause havoc with ball in hand. The centre brings his side inside the Leinster half before that man Conan again is quickly off the line to knock Carbery backwards. Munster retain the ball though as the clock turns red. 

40Mins

40 mins – Leinster have been immense in defence and this time it’s Healy who clamps himself over Haley to force the turnover. Munster have had plenty of ball but haven’t done a lot with it. The story of their season.

40Mins

40 mins – One last chance for Leinster to probe in this first half. O’Mahony comes close to stealing the throw but Furlong does well at the back of the lineout to grab it. 

40Mins

40 mins – Brilliant from Larmour! He looked like he was running into a brick wall of red shirts but dances his way out of danger to get Leinster on the front foot and then Munster cynically slow the ball down on the ground. Byrne will have the chance to send the defending champions into the break in the lead. 

40Mins

40 mins — Penalty! Leinster 9-6 Munster (Byrne)

And that he does! It didn’t appear to be the most convincing strike from Byrne but the flags go up and Leinster hold a narrow three-point lead as the teams head for the sheds. 

40Mins

Half-time! Leinster 9-6 Munster

An utterly frenetic and compelling first 40 minutes of rugby at the RDS, and you’d expect nothing less between these two. Munster have enjoyed plenty of the ball but again their attack has looked pretty blunt, with Conan and JVDF leading Leinster’s relentless defensive effort.

The visitors have also held the upper hand at the scrum but after Byrne and Carbery exchanged two penalties apiece, it’s Leo Cullen’s side who lead at the break thanks to Byrne’s third three-pointer on the stroke of the half-time interval. It’s on a knife-edge. 

40Mins

Munster have used Chris Farrell’s physicality and power very effectively off the set-piece this afternoon, while Rory Scannell has been quite bright too, but again Munster just lack that spark in attack. They had 54% possession in that first 40 but have only two Carbery penalties to show for it.

Meanwhile, van der Flier is enjoying an immense comeback with the Leinster flanker getting through Trojan work on both sides of the ball in his first game in three months. Five carries, six tackles, more than 15 ruck involvements and two turnovers won. 

41Mins

KICK OFF! The teams are back out at the RDS, where the clouds have become a lot darker all of a sudden and we may be in for the rain that was forecast. Anyway, Carbery gets us back underway. 

41Mins

41 mins – It’s that man JVDF again for Leinster! Munster go through the phases without earning too much reward before the Wicklow native again wins the ball back for his side. 

42Mins

42 mins – Leinster’s work at the breakdown has been excellent and they’ve stopped Munster building pressure inside their 22 with a number of important turnovers and steals on the ground. Ruddock has delivered a couple of big moments in addition to JVDF and Conan. 

44Mins

44 mins — Here comes Cronin! Leinster work it in-field and then they use that strike move again as McGrath pops it back inside for Cronin to burst through. The hosts recycle fast and hard but the pass left hits the retreating Scannell and that’s a certain yellow. 

45Mins

45 mins — Yellow! Adamson has no option but to send Scannell to the bin, although the Munster hooker argues that he could do nothing about it as he looked to get back into the defensive line. 

45Mins

45 mins — Penalty! Leinster 12-6 Munster (Byrne)

Easy as you like for Byrne who knocks over his fourth penalty to extend Leinster’s lead.

46Mins

46 mins – Another breathless passage of play. Munster come up with a good response as a wonderful kick from Carbery trickles into touch on the far side, bringing play to five metres out from the Leinster line — but the visitors then give away a silly penalty at the lineout.

47Mins

47 mins – It’s turned over again by Munster at the lineout and they eventually work their way into the Leinster 22, before Fardy is pinged by Adamson as he looked to poach it back. 

50Mins

50 mins — Penalty! Leinster 12-9 Munster (Carbery)

Carbery responds with his third penalty of the afternoon and we’re back to a one-score game again. 

58Mins

57 mins – The Leinster front row playing like backs there and that’s Cronin’s seventh try in the Pro14 this season. A 10-point lead in this game is a big, big advantage now. 

58Mins

58 mins – Byrne’s last act is to nail the conversion as Sexton is on for the final 20 minutes. Munster have also made a flurry of changes with Stephen Archer and Jack O’Donoghue both on. 

59Mins

59 mins – A sold-out RDS has found its full voice now and here come Leinster again with Sexton set away, before offloading off the ground for Conan to maintain the pressure on Munster. The defending champions are going for the kill here. 

60Mins

60 mins – Munster do well to take the sting out of Leinster’s onslaught and after phase-after-phase of blue attack, Henshaw knocks on contact. Van Graan’s men survive. 

62Mins

61 mins – Cullen changes his entire front row with Ed Byrne, Bryan Byrne and Andrew Porter on for Cronin, Healy and Furlong. Fineen Wycherley and Billy Holland have come on for Munster.

63Mins

62 mins – Sexton has made a strong impact since his arrival, that show-and-go fooling Beirne and setting Leinster on their way again. 

64Mins

64 mins – Ringrose attempts to grubber through into space but is blocked down by Rory Scannell and the Munster man is unlucky it doesn’t bounce up favourably for him, as he ultimately fumbles the loose ball forward. 

65Mins

Cronin is now Leinster’s leading try-scorer in the Pro14 this season.

Sean Cronin scores a try Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

65Mins

65 mins – Big moment here. Munster win a penalty against the head at the scrum and Carbery pings it deep into Leinster territory. They have to score with 15 minutes left on the clock. 

66Mins

66 mins – It’s clean ball for Munster and they’re now within striking distance… 

67Mins

67 mins – But it’s all too one-dimensional again from van Graan’s men and eventually Archer knocks on in contact, with van der Flier coming away with the ball for Leinster. More frustration for Munster.

67Mins

67 mins – Two more changes for the visitors. Alby Mathewson is on for Murray and Dan Goggin replaces Rory Scannell. They’re in do-or-die territory now. 

68Mins

68 mins — Another Munster attack breaks down as Kilcoyne is the guilty party this time, losing the ball forward in contact. 

69Mins

69 mins – Further evidence here that Josh van der Flier is an absolute machine. Incredible shift from the Leinster openside after recovering from groin surgery ahead of schedule. To rub salt in Munster wounds, the hosts have just won a pressure-relieving scrum penalty. 

70Mins

70 mins – Liam O’Connor is on for Kilcoyne now. Munster’s season has pretty much been summed up this afternoon, with van Graan’s men enjoying plenty of good ball off a solid set-piece foundation, but again their lack of a clinical edge is killing them when it really matters. 

71Mins

71 mins – Nick McCarthy, who will join Munster this summer, is on for Luke McGrath. Leinster looking to kill off their rivals now with a second try. 

71Mins

A capacity crowd of 18,977 have watched another bruising battle between these two provincial rivals.

Jean Kleyn and James Ryan Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

72Mins

72 mins — Carbery receives a warm ovation as he trudges off to be replaced by JJ Hanrahan for the final eight minutes.

75Mins

75 mins – Munster are running out of time and while they have the ball, they’re not really going anywhere. Leinster still hammering into tackles to shut the door on the visitors, who have made little or no progress.

75Mins

75 mins – Mathewson takes a penalty quickly, bringing Munster inside the Leinster half. It’s very, very scrappy but they retain the ball before Henshaw hits Goggin and Ryan wraps O’Mahony up. The blue wall holding firm. 

78Mins

77 mins – And that should be that. Leinster apply the squeeze, Stander runs out of space and his attempt to offload out of the tackle for Stander sees the ball trickle into touch. Sexton is down receiving treatment but is back on his feet. 

78Mins

78 mins – A standing ovation for Josh van der Flier as he makes way for Max Deegan, and the flanker is also named man of the match for a phenomenal effort. 

78Mins

78 mins – Leinster turn it over again and there’s just two minutes left on the clock. The defending champions are heading towards Glasgow. 

79Mins

79 mins — We’re into the final minute at the RDS as a series of scrum resets edges Leinster closer to victory. 

Flag 79Mins

79 mins — TRY! Leinster 24-9 Munster (Lowe)

The coup de grace! Off the scrum, Leinster go left where O’Loughlin draws in his man to feed Lowe, who hands Haley off to finish brilliantly in the corner. Game, set and match. 

80Mins

Full-time! Leinster 24-9 Munster

Sexton is unable to add the touchline conversion but it matters little as Leinster storm their way into next weekend’s Pro14 final with another semi-final win over Munster, whose eight-year wait for silverware goes on.

Leo Cullen’s men will defend their league title against Glasgow Warriors at Celtic Park next Saturday evening. 

80Mins

Leinster v Glasgow will be a thrilling final next weekend. Thanks for joining us here this afternoon, we’ll have plenty of reaction from the RDS over the course of the evening.

Jordan Larmour and Tadhg Furlong celebrate Sean Cronin's try Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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