Perhaps Johann van Graan is going to Bath just so he doesn’t have to face Leinster again. Perhaps fear of what might happen was the reason so many Munster believers did not make the trip to Thomond Park last night.
This was a demoralizing night for the home side, who threw plenty of shots and barely scratched a Leinster side who appear primed for a big end to the season.
The home side came to Thomond Park with more needs and more of their strongest players available and would have been heartened by the number of empty spots. They left the country knowing that the gulf between them and their nearest neighbors remains.
Throw in a worrying injury to Talismans No. 8 Gavin Coombes a week before the game against Exeter in Europe and it was an all-around bad night for the hosts.
Across the park it was the Men in Blue who won their battles for position and after an even first half it was a show of strength in injury time that set the tone for a dominant third quarter as they muscled down the home team earned a penalty that gave them a two-point lead before the break. By the hour, they had extended it to 17.
There were outstanding performances from both sides and Alex Kendellen was outstanding on the losing side, but at Caelan Doris Leinster has a particular talent. He excelled in all facets of the game.
Leinster was more skilled from the start and brought real determination with her defensive play.
Munster had his moments but they too often took their determination to get Leinster out of step at the ruck too far, leaving the superb Ross Byrne a chance to score points or move up by positions.
After he and Joey Carbery exchanged kicks, the visitors struck with a quality-packed sequence on the first try.
A clever backline move sent James Lowe into the void and he got into the ’22 before the forwards took over. Doris put Jeremy Loughman on his butt and as Munster’s scramble defense spit the advantage out, Byrne lubed a delicious pass over the top for Garry Ringrose to corner the corner.
The outside half missed the conversion and Munster responded immediately with a Carbery penalty.
He and Byrne exchanged penalties as both sides tested the patience of England referee Christopher Ridley in the ruck and the Munster put his side ahead with two minutes remaining.
Munster’s challenge was to hold the lead until half-time, but it was Leinster who closed with a really important moment. Her pack got the shove in the scrum and Doris, Jack Conan and Jack Dunne pushed into a counterattack to win the ball. An offside from Munster allowed Byrne a kick to put the away side ahead at half-time but a physical statement had been made.
They backed that up by rolling the front row that started Ireland’s last two Six Nations games off the bench and within eight minutes of the restart extended their lead with another good try when Robbie Henshaw found James Lowe wide, to end another sequence in which Doris was prominent.
Byrne missed the conversion but added a penalty and attempt number three came before the hour mark, another skilful backline move where Ringrose kept the ball nicely alive again and Lowe put Jimmy O’Brien on target.
Byrne converted and van Graan sent Craig Casey to set pace. He made an impression and within a minute or so Damian De Allende crossed in a try that finally gave the home fans something to cheer about.
Carbery kicked the extras and Thomond began to dream of a riot. Instead, they faced the nightmare scenario of a fourth Leinster try when Lowe dived in the corner to end another excellent attack.
Goalscorers: Munster – D De Allende try, J Carbery 4 pins, con. Leinster – J Lowe 2 trials, G Ringrose, J O’Brien trials, R Byrne 4 pins, 1 Con.
Muenster: M Gallagher (B Healy 60); C Nash (K Earls 72), C Farrell, D de Allende, S Daly; J Carbery, C Murray (C Casey 60); J Loughman (JW Ycherley 68), N Scannell (D Barron 56), S Archer (J Ryan 56); J Jenkins (T Ahern 58), F Wycherley; P O’Mahony (Captain), G Coombes (A Kendellen 28), C Cloete.
Lester: H Keenan; J. O’Brien, G. Ringrose (Captain), R. Henshaw (C. Frawley 60), J. Lowe; R. Byrne, J. Gibson-Park (L. McGrath 65); E Byrne (C Healy 46), J Tracy (D Sheehan 46), M Ala’alatoa (T Furlong 46); D. Toner (R. Molony 50), J. Dunne (J. Murphy 49); C. Doris (M. Deegan 76), J. Conan, J. van der Flier.
Referee: C Ridley (England).
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/pro14/sobering-night-for-munster-as-caelan-doris-leads-leinster-to-emphatic-four-try-win-at-thomond-park-41514711.html Sobering night for Munster as Caelan leads Doris Leinster to an emphatic four-try win at Thomond Park