Joey Carbery bags 16 points as Munster topple Leinster

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Joey Carbery bags 16 points as Munster topple Leinster
Limerick , Ireland - 29 December 2018; Conor Murray of Munster congratulates Joey Carbery, right, after kicking a conversion during the Guinness PRO14 Round 12 match between Munster and Leinster at Thomond Park in Limerick. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster finally put an end to their Leinster voodoo, defeating the European and Pro14 champions at Thomond Park, thanks to a 16 point haul from Joey Carbery.

It was a game that will not be remembered for the rugby entirely though, but rather, ill-discipline which spoiled the opening half. The visitors trying to unsettle the hosts, with niggle and off the ball play.

Despite the best efforts of Johnny Sexton [see below], former Leinster player Joey Carbery sank Leinster’s ship, with 16 points from the tee, in a match-winning effort. Carbery maintained his composure to guide Munster to a well-deserved victory, ending the four-game losing streak to Leinster Rugby in the Guinness PRO14 and European rugby competitions.

Joey Carbery bags 16 points in Feisty Affair

It was a first-half full of controversy, which saw Cian Healy and Tadgh Furlong yellow carded, while James Lowe saw red for a clumsy and reckless collision with Andrew Conway in the air. The ill-discipline, ultimately costing Leinster the game. Referee Frank Murphy was a busy man, with plenty of niggle and off the ball interactions adding to what was a full-blooded, old-style derby encounter.

Munster ‘dominant’ against Leinster stars

Munster flanker Chris Cloete broke the scoreless deadlock after 14 minutes. Munster, fuelled by a sold-out Thomond Park, felt they had momentum, and kicked to the corner. From there, the destructive Munster maul, buoyed by the addition of some of the backline, powered over the line. Joey Carbery adding the extras from the side-line. Munster held a 13-3 lead at half-time, only a Johnny Sexton penalty keeping Leinster in touch.

Despite losing James Lowe to a  red card for a poor effort under the high ball, it could have been a more costly first half for Leinster, with Tadhg Furlong, perhaps lucky to only be yellow-carded for a nasty clear-out on Chris Cloete.

Replays showed it looked like a direct shoulder to the head, leading to Cloete being stretched off. Referee Murphy felt a yellow card would suffice. Munster too, perhaps lucky that Conor Murray hadn’t been sin-binned for a high tackle on Jordan Larmour, mimicking the tackle that saw Cian Healy binned moments earlier. The game was tough, but fans still expect ‘clean shots’ in the professional age.

Captain CJ Stander produced yet another remarkable performance, alongside Tadhg Beirne and Fineen Whycherley, leading the Munster defence which halted the infamous Leinster attack. Stander leading the tackle count with 16 made and zero missed, to end his year with another outstanding display.

Second Half thankfully involved quality Rugby action

Despite having only 14 men, Leinster owned 61% possession and 62% territory throughout the game. However, it was Munster who threw the first punch of the second half, with Leinster again giving up a penalty opportunity.

Joey Carbery, on form with the boot made it a nine-point game. Leinster hit back immediately, James Tracey touching down from the back of the maul. Johnny Sexton narrowed the deficit to just six points after his conversion sailed over.

In regards to the World Rugby Player of the Year, a surprisingly premature but seemingly pre-planned substitution of captain Johnny Sexton, perhaps backfired for Leinster as substitute Ciaran Frawley threw an intercept pass, drowning the slight hopes of a Leinster come-back. Munster winger Keith Earls pouncing and striding clear unchallenged to the try line. Nothing less than what Earls, and Munster deserved.

There was enough time for Leinster to claw back seven points through Max Deegan but, it wasn’t enough to give the visitors a losing bonus point.

The match finished 26-17 in favour of the Munster men. Facing 14 men, the game was managed well by players like Joey Carbery, Stander, and Earls.

Munster now remain unbeaten at home this season and unbeaten at home for 2018.

Thoughts from winning team’s Head Coach

Johann Van Graan praised his players for maintaining their composure throughout the match; with the events of the past number of weeks, aiding Munster in dealing with the events throughout the game:

“Two of Ireland’s provinces going at each other for 80 minutes”, saw a rare smile cross the head coaches lips. And the Thomond Park crowd would testify to that endorsement.

“Firstly, very happy with the win. Also, want to give credit to the opponents. Thought they fought to the last play of the game. I thought we kept our cool for the third week in a row.

“I thought our discipline was excellent and at crucial times we used opportunities and very happy with the win.”

The idea that the Munster-Leinster interprovincial games had lost their edge, will certainly be put to bed after this encounter.

There was no love lost between these two sides littered with international talent. The friendships between the Irish Rugby players who shared a memorable year together in the green of Ireland, were certainly ‘put to bed’ for 80 minutes of tantilizing rugby union.

Guinness PRO14 standings reinforced by Munster victory

Munster now lies just two points adrift of Conference A leaders, Glasgow Warriors. So heading into the New Year, Joey Carbery and his teammates can be satisfied with their 2018 input.

Meanwhile, Leinster maintains a comfortable 19 point lead at the top of Conference B. Another big couple of weeks lies ahead of these provinces, as Munster head to Galway to face Connacht, and Leinster welcome Ulster to the RDS, before the provinces compete in European Professional Rugby Club action again, early next year.

Fans of both teams will take a breath after another terrific tussle. While two yellow cards and several stoppages due to ‘handbags’ did make for a heated battle, it was a result that was aided by 15 players facing 14. Lowe was sent from the field for his ‘clumsy’ display yet Last Word on Rugby would be surprised if further action were taken by PRO14 organizers.

The Kiwi import was lazy, not reckless, and his team suffered for it. The on-field punishment should suffice (if the PRO14 acts prudently, and does not make him an example).

If anything, Saturday’s game will add to the MUNvLEI rivalry, and more anticipated encounters between the two continuing into the 2018/19 season.

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Munster 26 – Tries: Cloete, Earls; Conversions: Carbery, Tyler Bleyendaal; Penalties: Carbery (4)

Leinster 17 – Tries: Tracy, Deegan; Cons: Sexton, Ciaran Frawley; Pen: Sexton

“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images

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