Munster fell to a 12-33 defeat to Leinster in Musgrave Park in the southern province’s first pre-season match of the 2023/24 campaign.
In hot conditions in Cork, a promising start to the game saw Munster take the lead through a Scott Buckley try which Tony Butler converted. However, Leinster responded with 26 unanswered points to lead 7-26 at the break.
The second-half was much closer with Diarmuid Mangan’s try and Charlie Tector’s conversion extending Leinster’s lead to 7-33.
Munster did respond with a well-worked try from debutant Stephen Kiely but it was too little too late as Leinster claimed a deserved win.
Munster kicked off into the Sunday’s Well end and they soon won a penalty when Leinster were offside from their own clearing kick. Tony Butler put it into the corner where a strong maul effort from the lineout saw Scott Buckley cross for the game’s opening try after two minutes.
Butler landed the touchline conversion to give Munster an early 7-0 advantage.
A number of penalty concessions from Munster gave Leinster a lineout over 10 metres out from the Munster line. Munster did well to stop the maul but Leinster continued to make ground through the phases before Jason Jenkins crashed over for a try. Ciarán Frawley converted to level the game with just under 10 minutes played.
The next 15 minutes were more subdued with both sides making unforced errors with the ball becoming increasingly difficult to handle in the hot and humid conditions.
It was Leinster who upped the tempo after this period. Lee Barron got Leinster’s second try from a maul which Frawley converted before a mistake with the ball from Munster allowed Tommy O’Brien to race clear and score under the posts. Frawley’s conversion ensured a 7-19 lead for Leinster with 10 minutes of the first half remaining.
Just before half-time, Leinster went further in front and it was Barron who got his second from close-range. Frawley converted to leave Munster trailing 7-26 at the break.
Munster were much improved in the opening 15 minutes of the second-half but that crucial try didn’t come. Instead, Leinster kept their clinical streak up when their first visit to the 22 in the second half saw Diarmuid Mangan cross for his side. Tector converted to extend the lead to 7-33.
Unforced errors from Munster stemmed any momentum generated in the second-half but from a midfield scrum, Munster struck with a lovely backline move which saw Fionn Gibbons break through the Leinster line and offload to Shane Daly who released debutant Stephen Kiely who used his pace to score in the corner.
Rory Scannell’s conversion drifted wide to leave the score at 12-33.
Munster pushed for another try but a handling error put an end to the move as the referee blew the full-time whistle.
Munster v Leinster Pre-Season Round-Up
Kieran Ryan, Evan O’Connell, Shay McCarthy and Stephen Kiely made their senior Munster debuts.
Stephen Kiely scored a try on his debut in the second-half.
Munster’s next pre-season match is away to Connacht on Friday, September 22.
Munster are then back at Thomond Park for the visit of the Barbarians in a double-header with the Women’s team on Saturday, September 30. Buy tickets here.