A very physical and hard-fought game resulted in Leinster U18s coming away the 21 â00 6 victors. The large home crowd watching from the new 400 all seater stand, saw Munster start slowly, unlike their Leinster counterparts, who dominated the first quarter, scoring an early unconverted try in the corner from a lineout. Following on from that score Munster controlled most of the territory and the game for the first half, with Leinster conceding 4 penalties for infringement near the line before half-time. Munster punished the Leinster mistakes and went into the break as deserved 6 â00 5 leaders.
As the second half kicked-off, Munster conceded a penalty for infringement and were penalised with a yellow card. During the seven minute sin-bin, Leinster made the most of their opportunities and scored an impressive and unanswered 13 points in the shape of two penalties and a converted try. At this age group, a 12 point different is often too big an obstacle to overcome, and it showed in the Munster game. They played well and the coaching team made some changes to improve the flow of the game. Munster even coming tantalisingly close with a knock on at the try line after three good chances. The Leinster team showed more cohesion and teamwork and their forwards dominated at the breakdown. Leinster sealed their well rounded performance with a penalty to leave the final score 21 â00 6.
In the Under 19 game, Leinster racked up 12 points to Munsterâ00s 7 in the first half. Despite having most of the possession, Munsterâ00s final passing was not going to hand, unlike Leinsterâ00s whose back-line moves were well-rehearsed and fluid. Munster missed 3 reasonable penalties and dropped a ball over the try line all in the course of the first half. Leinster were very impressive on the ball, but were up against some solid Munster tackling, making the first half a hard-fought battle on all fronts.
Leinster led 12 â00 7 going into the break and scored again just 10 minutes into the second half from a clean lineout ball, which they failed to convert. Munster answered with a penalty kick outside the 22 to bring the score to 17 â00 10. Leinster rallied with some blistering runs by their back line, showing speed, good ball-handling skills and communication. Only fearless tackling from the Munster backs prevented two almost certain tries.
After two attempts at a Leinster scrum, the referee awarded Munster a free kick, which they took quickly and rushed the Leinster defence and try line. A yellow card was shown to the Leinster scrum half, Peter du Toit, for infringement at the breakdown right on the try line, and a penalty, but no penalty try, was awarded.
From the resultant line out, Munster Captain Patrick Butler, gathered the ball and mauled and heaved the ball over the line for a hard-won try. With only a few minutes to go, Munster missed the conversion and Leinster pushed again for a score with fast passes out the back line. Again, ferocious tackling by the Munster defence prevented a near certain try from the Leinster backs. A drop goal attempt by Leinster fell so closely short that the crowd and referee initially called a score. A 22 drop out for Munster restored the balance and Munster ran and tackled their way back into Leinsterâ00s 22. Following a penalty for offside, Munsterâ00s first centre, Kevin Kidney, slotted the ball between the posts to seal a win for Munster with the last kick of the game. A final score of 18 â00 17 to Munster accurately reflects the closeness of the game, and there will be some sore bodies on buses up and down the country tonight.
Overall the skill levels on the ball and in the set piece were impressive, which bodes well for the future of Irish rugby.