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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 16 January, 2019


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GOOD AFTERNOON AND welcome to The42′s live coverage of today’s Pro14 semi-final between Leinster and Munster.

Tá an ghrian ag scoilteadh na gcloch over in Ballsbridge, and we hope you’re enjoying the weather wherever you are, too.

A view of the RDS ahead of the game What a day for some union Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Royal wedding? Come off it! It’s all about the Royal Dublin Showgrounds today, and an All-Irish clash between two old rivals for a place in next weekend’s Pro14 final at Lansdowne Road.

Even this lad knows the scéal:

We’re all in the same boat, Har.

Indeed, for one of these two men – Isa Nacewa and Simon Zebo – it will be a final outing in either blue or red.

A view of Isa Nacewa's name in the dressing room Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A view of Simon Zebo's jersey

Who will get one final run-out in provincial colours? Who will face the Scarlets next weekend? We’ll find out very shortly.

Kick-off is at 3:15, and team news is on its way.

For those asking, today’s game will be shown on both TG4 and Sky Sports Action. TG4′s coverage starts at 2:50, while Sky’s broadcast will kick off at 3.

Team News

No changes to the Leinster matchday 23 which was named by Leo Cullen yesterday.

Robbie Henshaw will be out ‘for a few weeks’ but has a decent chance of making Ireland’s summer tour to Australia, while Johnny Sexton is likely to feature against the Scarlets next weekend should Leinster see off their old foes on home soil today.

Munster have arrived at the RDS and it seems they too will line out as planned.

Word from the Leinster camp is that last weekend was “extremely loose”, but Champions Cup celebrations were left in the rear-view from Monday onwards.

Munster supporters, meanwhile, have cut loose upon Paddy Cullen’s in Ballsbridge – their official pre-game meeting point this afternoon.

We’ll have kick-off in 10 minutes (finish up there, now, lads!)

Munster fans before the game Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO


JJ Hanrahan gets us underway at the RDS.

Leinster 0-0 Munster

1 – Leinster go wide straight from kick-off and James Lowe takes them beyond the 22. A flying Simon Zebo fields a clearance kick and JJ Hanrahan drills one back to the outskirts of Leinster’s 22.

Leinster 0-0 Munster

2 - Leinster win a penalty after Rhys Ruddock wins their lineout, and Ross Byrne fires them back up to midfield. Munster steal the subsequent lineout: Scannell and Zebo combine as the men in red march back into Leinster territory.

Leinster 0-0 Munster

5 - a pass from Kleyn goes awry and after Munster scramble backwards to recover possession, Leinster turn them over on the ground with a solid counter-ruck. Byrne clears again, and Zebo collects. Murray returns fire with the boot and despite Munster winning back their own ball, they’re turned over almost immediately by James Ryan.

TRY LEINSTER! Leinster 5-0 Munster

7 - Leinster cross for the opening score! Incredible work by James Lowe who makes two huge carries before popping a beautiful offload to Jack Conan, who strolls over. Lowe left Simon Zebo on his backside with his second break.

Leinster 7-0 Munster

8 - Conversion from Carbery is good.

Leinster 7-0 Munster

9 - James Ryan breaks a tackle and makes a huge carry up to midfield, but isolated, he’s pinged for holding on. Keith Earls with the turnover for the visitors.

Leinster 7-0 Munster

10 - Break in play as Jack O’Donoghue receives treatment.

Leinster 7-0 Munster

10 - Robin Copeland, in what could be his final game before heading west, replaces Jack O’Donoghue who picked up a leg injury after tackling James Ryan from behind.

Jack O'Donoghue leaves the field injured Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Munster go wide some 40 yards from Leinster’s line, but Earls’ ambitious pass is correctly ruled forward as it reaches Andrew Conway’s boot.

Leinster 7-0 Munster

16 - Rory Scannell makes a half-break and takes Munster up to Leinster’s 22. Zebo kicks crossfield to Andrew Conway for little gain, but Munster had the advantage and Hanrahan will chip at goal from a central position – about 25 yards from the sticks.

Leinster 7-3 Munster

18 – Hanrahan splits the posts, and up go the flags.

Leinster 7-3 Munster

To those of you using iOS: apologies for the lack of updates during the first 15 or so minutes. I made an absolute balls of something on the backend. Fixed now. Welcome!

Leinster 10-3 Munster

21 - Ross Byrne lands a penalty from long range to stretch Leinster’s lead after a decent spell of Munster pressure.

Leinster 10-3 Munster

22 - Copeland spills a pass forward and Hanrahan catches it, conceding a penalty for offside in the process.

From the resulting lineout, James Lowe gets loose down the left wing but Sammy Arnold makes an extraordinary tackle around his legs, saving a certain try just five metres from the line! What. A. Tackle! Lowe spills the ball into touch as he hits the deck, and Munster clear their lines.

Jack Conan crosses for, and celebrates, his try.

Jack Conan scores the opening try Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Jack Conan celebrates scoring Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Leinster 10-3 Munster

27 - Unbelievable passage of play by Munster who burst from their own 22 with Murray before Conway and Zebo take them deep into Leinster territory.

They win the penalty, but Hanrahan is off target on this occasion. Poor miss.

Leinster 10-3 Munster

32 - From a lineout, Munster roll their maul up to midfield before Murray puts boot to ball.

They win it in the air, and Hanrahan attempts to set Zebo away with a deft chip but it’s gathered well by a sliding Luke McGrath.

Referee Stuart Berry brings the action back to the touchline, where Munster have a scrum after Leinster knocked it on during the aforementioned aerial contest.

Leinster 10-3 Munster

34 - Big carries through the phases from Earls, Conway, O’Mahony and Scannell have brought Munster to within five of the Leinster line.

Leinster 10-3 Munster

36 - Yellow card for Jean Kleyn!

Munster chip away at the Leinster line, and CJ Stander – reversing the angle – takes them to within an inch but gets held up.

Referee goes upstairs to see if there was foul play by Kleyn in the lead-up. The South African dove head-first into a clear-out, off his feet, and appeared to clash bonces with Ross Byrne on the ground. Reckless play, at best.

Deserves his 10 in the bin and, frankly, might even deserve worse for that. Lucky boy.

Leinster 10-3 Munster

37 - Huge work by James Cronin who rips possession back from Leinster just outside the blues’ 22, but Rory Scannell fires a pass so forward in its trajectory that it might not land until next Wednesday. Ball seemed to just escape his grasp at the crucial moment as he looked for Earls on the left flank. Unfortunate, and a bit of a let-off for Leinster.

Munster are well in this, now. Entertaining slugfest so far.

Leinster 10-3 Munster

38 - Munster attack from a scrum just outside Leinster’s 22. Zebo, though, is smashed by Garry Ringrose and spills it forward. Leinster scrum.

Half-time: Leinster 10-3 Munster

The European champions lead through Jack Conan’s try after some superb work by James Lowe, and might have pushed further ahead were it not for Sammy Arnold’s miracle tackle on the explosive Kiwi.

Munster, however – who’ll have Jean Kleyn in the bin for the first few minutes of the second half – are growing into this one, and seem to have weathered the storm.

It’s delicately poised, and we should be in for another cracking 40 minutes after the interval!

Second Half

40 - Ross Byrne gets us back underway. Ian Keatley is on for JJ Hanrahan at out-half for Munster.

Leinster 10-3 Munster

41 - A beautiful clearance from Rory Scannell from inside his 22 takes us beyond the Leinster 10m line.

Munster come again from Leinster’s subsequent clearance, and though Conway chips the ball away, Munster turn it over on the ground.

Stander takes them into the Leinster 22.

TRY MUNSTER! Leinster 10-8 Munster

Superb score by the Munstermen!

They go wide to Zebo, who commits Carbery and Byrne before putting Keith Earls over in the corner.

Leinster 10-8 Munster

44 - Keatley’s conversion from the touchline goes wide left.

Leinster 13-8 Munster

45 - Keatley is pinged for being ahead of the kicker after Munster cleared from just inside their own 22. He had been warned by referee Berry prior to making the tackle. Byrne knocks it over from 20-odd yards to extend Leinster’s lead to five.

Jean Kleyn is back on for Munster, while Cian Healy has replaced Jack McGrath for the European champions.

Leinster 13-8 Munster

48 - A probing kick through by Ringrose is gathered by Zebo, but Ringrose makes the tackle with support after a fantastic kick-chase and Munster are penalised for holding on.

Byrne puts it into touch on the Munster five-metre line, but despite Leinster winning their lineout, Munster win the scrum from the ensuing maul. A lot of roaring and back-slapping for that one after Leinster were doing the same moments prior.

Leinster 13-8 Munster

52 - Gerbrandt Grobler – another set to depart Munster this summer – comes on for Billy Holland.

Leinster win a penalty from a Munster scrum between the visitors’ 10 and 22.

Byrne points to the posts, but misses a fairly straightforward kick to the left – not unlike Hanrahan’s miss earlier.

Leinster 13-8 Munster

55 - Munster go close through Zebo, who chips beyond the Leinster rearguard into their 22, but doesn’t quite get the bounce he needed as Carbery regathers about seven yards from his own line.

Munster are subsequently pinged on the ground.

Dave Kilcoyne on for Munster, Andrew Porter on for Leinster.

Leinster 13-8 Munster

60 - Leinster beginning to turn the screw in the scrum, and their new front row (James Tracy is on as well) demolishes Munster at midfield to win another penalty. Carbery points to the posts from near halfway.

His kick leaves a lot to be desired, and doesn’t come within an ass’s roar of the posts. Munster clear to midfield, and Peter O’Mahony steals the lineout! Murray, however, box-kicks before Munster get it back from Leinster’s own clearance.

Munster go wide left through Earls and then Arnold, who chips infield to no avail.

Leinster 13-8 Munster

63 - Ringrose almost burst clear in Munster’s half but is stopped well by Keatley, who hangs on by his fingernails. James Lowe spills forward after a tackle by Simon Zebo who, as it stands, has just over 15 minutes remaining in Munster red.

But this one remains in the balance.

Leinster 13-8 Munster

66 - Stander strips Ringrose just outside Leinster’s 22 and Conway chips down the right flank. James Lowe retreats to collect, and shrugs Conway off before booting clear to midfield.

Leinster 13-8 Munster

68 - Huge carry by Zebo who blows through two tacklers as Munster attempt to build something in Leinster’s half.

Cian Healy concedes a penalty as he intervenes upon Murray at the breakdown from an offside position.

After a long deliberation, it’s Conor Murray who kicks to touch. And what a job he does! Munster ball, five yards out. On comes Sweetnam for Arnold.

Leinster 13-8 Munster

70 - Niall Scannell’s lineout is almost stolen but Murray recovers possession. Munster chip away at the Leinster defence but James Tracy makes a monumental intervention and Munster are blown up for failing to release on the ground. That’s a massive moment in this game.

Leinster 13-8 Munster

72 -Mix-up from Fardy and James Lowe sees the former pass directly into touch. Munster lineout near halfway. They win it, and Murray hangs one up but it’s gathered easily by Lowe.

Zebo attempts to go from deep from the resulting kick but makes a horrendous pass under pressure from Rory O’Loughlin which travels forward and into touch. Leinster scrum just outside Munster’s 22.

Leinster 16-8 Munster

76 - Leinster again win a penalty in the scrum – another unbelievable shove by their front row – and Carbery all but kills this one off from just outside the 22, right of the posts.

The gap is eight, and it’s difficult to see a way back for Munster at this juncture. Three minutes to go.

Leinster 16-8 Munster

78 - Munster bashing at the Leinster line and win a penalty. Murray goes quickly and Grobler makes a play for the base of the posts. Referee goes upstairs: ‘Try or no try’ the question.

Try Munster! Leinster 16-15 Munster

Gerbrandt Grobler touches down at the base of the post. Conversion good. Leinster lead by a single point with a minute remaining at the RDS.

Leinster 16-15 Munster

80 - Munster go from their own five and Simon Zebo makes a massive break up to halfway! O’Mahony takes it up to the Leinster 10! Then Kilcoyne, AND LEINSTER WIN A PENALTY ON THE GROUND!!!

Full-time: Leinster 16-15 Munster

Despite an uproarious late attack from Munster, who cut loose through Zebo from their own five-metre line, Leinster regroup and eventually put the squeeze on Munster to win a penalty on the floor. That’s the game, and what a game!

Leinster will face the Scarlets in the Pro14 final!

The final act:

Leinster players celebrate at the final whistle Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Thanks for joining our live coverage of today’s Pro14 semi-final. Stay tuned to The42 for analysis and reaction from what was a bit of a barnburner at the RDS.

‘Til next week!

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