Ryan Byrne/INPHO Munster beat Leinster in last season's URC semi-final.

'If Munster could beat them twice in a row, that's a serious achievement'

Leinster will be out for revenge at the Aviva Stadium this weekend.

THE LAST TIME Munster recorded back-to-back wins over Leinster was during the 2014/15 season.

This weekend, the southern province will look to back up their URC semi-final win over Leinster as they visit the Aviva Stadium, the scene of that dramatic 16-15 victory in May.

Out-half Jack Crowley kicked the winning drop-goal on that occasion, ensuring that Leinster will be out for revenge on Saturday evening in Dublin, as discussed on today’s episode of Rugby Weekly Extra.

Last season, Leinster rested most of their frontline players for the clash with Munster, so it will be interesting to see their team selection this time around. For defending URC champions Munster, it’s a huge opportunity to make another statement in Dublin.

“I can’t wait to see both teams,” said former Leinster and Ireland hooker Bernard Jackman on Rugby Weekly Extra.

“This should be a brilliant game. If Munster could beat them twice in a row, that’s a serious achievement. They have to be chasing that.

“Obviously, it will be step up because you’d imagine that Leinster will go stronger than they did in that semi-final, but now you’ve beaten them once, to beat them twice puts a serious screw in their head.

“On form, I think it’s hard to see it but Munster will have to fancy the opportunity to go and do that, to double down on it. I can’t wait to see both teams’ selection and get a really good inter-provincial derby.

“They can play stronger teams than maybe we’ve been used to for a while with those Christmas matches. There’s a real opportunity for both teams to go as strong as possible and hopefully we’ll get a big crowd. I think they’re doing something for Johnny Sexton before the game from a Leinster supporters’ point of view. It should be a great occasion.”

alex-nankivell-tackled-by-evan-roos Ben Brady / INPHO Alex Nankivell has had a good start with Munster. Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

While there will be lots of familiar faces on show at the Aviva Stadium, Jackman is excited about the possible impact of one of the new men in the Munster team.

Kiwi centre Alex Nankivell impressed again in last weekend’s 10-3 win over the Stormers at Thomond Park and Jackman believes he could have a big impact for Munster this season and beyond.

“I can’t wait to see him get more ball,” said Jackman. “We know he’s a really good player, we’ve watched him in Super Rugby, we’ve seen him for the All Blacks XV. He doesn’t look that big and imposing but any time there’s a bit of contact, he very rarely loses out.

“He’s got nice footwork, makes bad ball good ball, and on a night like that where the ball wasn’t really going to get wide, he gave Jack Crowley a nice get-out-of-jail card. We he was needed, he defended well. I think Nankivell and Antoine Frisch could build a really nice relationship in time.”

While Leinster are top of the URC table after their 54-5 hammering of the Scarlets at the RDS on Saturday night, Munster sit sixth following that victory against the Stormers in Limerick.

Graham Rowntree’s men lost to Ulster the weekend before, while also drawing away to Benetton in round two, but Jackman thought Munster did a fine job on a wet evening at Thomond Park. 

“It was physical. The Stormers are defensively very, very aggressive and they did stop Munster a little bit in getting that attacking game they wanted. I thought Crowley managed it pretty well when he felt they weren’t getting the gains with ball in hand, they went to the kicking game and were very patient with that.

“It mightn’t have been a great spectacle because of that but the conditions were poor. I thought Munster showed smarts and they went for the jugular late in the first half. They went to the corner when there were points on offer, forced a yellow card for the Stormers, then got the try through Edwin Edogbo. That was the key score.”

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