Battling Munster downed by Leinster in Pro 14 semi final

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1981
Rory Scannell is tackled by Ross Byrne and James Ryan during Munster's 16-15 defeat to Leinster at the RDS. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Munster’s Guinness Pro14 season ended with defeat at the semi final stage as they went down 16-15 to Leinster at the RDS.

A try from Jack Conan helped Leinster into a 10-3 lead at the break but despite dominating possession at times in the second half, Munster were unable to keep their season running and Leinster now play Scarlets in the final next weekend.

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Johann van Graan’s Munster side made the brighter start with a Peter O’Mahony lineout steal on halfway helping them into Leinster’s half.

A fine James Cronin break with an offload to John Ryan followed but the move broke down when Jean Kleyn’s behind pass went to nobody.

Leinster snaffled up possession and made their way from right to left with some quick hands releasing James Lowe on the left.

The flying Kiwi barged over Simon Zebo and into the Munster ’22. The ball then came back to Luke McGrath who then fed Jack McGrath.

His deft inside pass did for Sammy Arnold and Lowe was in possession again. He stepped off his right to beat Zebo and offloaded inside to Jack Conan for an excellent try that Joey Carbery converted.

After getting over the initial shock of falling behind, Munster regrouped to open their account through a JJ Hanrahan penalty that was quickly cancelled out by a Ross Byrne strike from the kicking tee. 10-3 to Leinster after 21 minutes.

Munster had a lot of the play in the first half but despite some slick handling and attacking intent, poor execution stopped many promising attacks.

Hanrahan had another attempt at goal 12 minutes before the break but snatched his effort wide right of the Leinster posts.

Munster continued their expansive play drew to a close with Andrew Conway and Keith Earls linking up on the right.

The play developed in field and CJ Stander was inches from scoring after being held up on the Leinster line.

However, play was brought back for a reckless clear out of a ruck by Jean Kleyn. The  South African lock was sin binned as a result and Munster stayed seven points adrift at the break.

Munster flew out of the blocks when the second half started. Robin Copeland win a turnover deep in Leinster territory and Keith Earls finished in the left corner after a shovel pass.

Ian Keatley missed the conversion and then conceded a penalty immediately after the restart that Ross Byrne nailed to put Leinster 13-8 ahead.

Munster pressed to get back into the game but a Carbery penalty looked to have sealed things for Leinster.

A late Gerbrandt Grobler try, converted by Ian Keatley, gave Munster hope but it came too late and their season ended in a one point defeat.

Munster: Simon Zebo; Andrew Conway, Sammy Arnold (Darren Sweetnam, 69 mins), Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; JJ Hanrahan (Ian Keatley, h-t), Conor Murray; James Cronin (Dave Kilcoyne, 53 mins), Rhys Marshall (Niall Scannell, 59 mins), John Ryan (Ciaran Parker, 74 mins); Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland (Gerbrandt Grobler, 51 mins); Peter O’Mahony, Jack O’Donoghue (Robin Copeland, 10 mins), CJ Stander.

Leinster: Joey Carbery; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Isa Nacewa (Rory O’Loughlin, h-t), James Lowe; Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath (Nick McCarthy, 78 mins); Jack McGrath (Cian Healy, 47 mins), Sean Cronin (James Tracy, 56 mins), Tadhg Furlong (Andrew Porter, 56 mins); Devin Toner; Rhys Ruddock (Scott Fardy, 63 mins), Jordi Murphy (Max Deegan, 80 mins), Jack Conan.

Referee: Stuart Berry (SARU)