Munster aiming to knock Leinster off their URC perch

Tadhg Beirne returns to the Munster team.

A SOLD-OUT (25,600) Thomond Park will host the glamour St Stephen’s Day United Rugby Championship encounter between Munster and Leinster, kick-off 7.35pm. 

It’s suddenly round ten of the competition, in which Leinster are perched at the top with nine wins from as many starts, while Munster picked up ground before the break and are positioned in a respectable eight, which equates to around midtable. 

Graham Rowntree’s side earned an important 6-17 victory against Northampton Saints in the Heineken Champions Cup at the weekend.  

“There was a lot riding on this game,” admitted Rowntree afterwards in the media room. “Coming here was always going to be hard in dealing with their attack, their width, and their tempo. So, it’s huge for us going forward”.

“It will give us a nice build-in to Monday because we’ve got three games over 11 days over Christmas. It’s going to be all hands-on deck but this will give us a launchpad into that, hopefully.” 

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Ahead of the glamour tie at Thomond Park, Leinster coach Leo Cullen said: “It’s a bloody tough place to go. We have experienced that enough times down the years with the full house, the influence that the crowd has on officials, because they get into everything, cheer for everything. It makes the officials second guess some of their calls”.

“You get that sense from where the coaches are sitting. We have experienced it where we don’t get into a natural flow in the game.”

He concluded: “So it is about making sure we keep control in a pretty chaotic type of environment.”

Over the last decade, Munster have won only four of their 11 encounters with Leinster in Limerick and have lost the last three ties involving the provinces.   

In a busy spell, Munster follow up their Leinster outing with a trip to Ulster on New Year’s Day and then a visit from Emirates Lions of South Africa to Musgrave Park five days later (January 6). 

The return leg with Northampton is at Thomond Park on Saturday, January 14.