This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 16 °C Saturday 11 July, 2020
Advertisement

Munster call on key men at key times to end losing run to Leinster

The southern province had catalysts at the start and controllers at the finish of a hard-fought inter-pro.

Image: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

IT’S THE BEAUTY of the game that, even when the collective is king, so much comes down to individual battles.

Their importance become heightened when there is so little to choose and so much to lose on the main highways of the pitch.

In Keith Earls at Thomond Park on Saturday night, Munster had a catalyst. A short man to fight above his weight, hare after every high ball, smash Dave Kearney with impeccable timing and beat Rob Kearney with a sublime step before grounding a five-point score in a four-point game.

In pre-season, the Limerick man moved to clear the air around what had been a bit of tension surrounding the question of his best position. Back in his natural home on the wing in this campaign Earls was the stand-out; the spark that brought Thomond Park to life and turn a stop-start set of phases in a whistle-ridden game into a statement of intent.

Going into the 19 – 15 win over with Leinster, Rob Penney’s bench made it clear they were planning a big assault in the final quarter of the game. Earls, along with some ferocious contributions from Paul O’Connell and (bar the one early mis-hit) nerveless kicking from Ian Keatley ensured the southern province would do much better than hang on before the cavalry came rolling in.

Once Conor Murray was sprung from his seat, the tide was never going to turn. This was the scrum-half’s first appearance since his Lions cameos, but there was no rust, no hint of a man getting up to speed. Instead, he adjusted the game to the pace of his choosing.

Expectations

This landmark Munster victory – their first since the 2011 Magners Final – is timely for many reasons. The empty seats in the higher reaches of the East Stand were conspicuous by their presence, this province is raising expectations again and they will hope that quickly translates to bums-on-seats.

Those who did come were not disappointed. Munster were fully-charged. Leinster at home is the fixture has been the one targeted since mid-summer: the mini-camp in Italy, the squad rotation and the reluctance to show off the best attacking moves in last week’s defence-focused win over the Dragons.

The challenge for Penney and his side now is to keep the ball rolling and find a way to raise the intensity to the standard witnessed in Thomond when they run out at the echo chamber that is Murrayfield.

If they can do that, with individuals lending all their weight to one gameplan,  there may not be a team north of Clermont who can live with them.

VIDEO: Keith Earls leaves Rob Kearney in his wake as Munster beat Leinster

All Blacks win Rugby Championship after nine-try classic in Jo’Burg

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Sean Farrell

Read next:

COMMENTS (16)