Magners League - Game of the Week
Leinster hammer Munster
October 3, 2009
Brian O'Driscoll returned to the Leinster midfield and notched a try
© Getty Images
Leinster outclassed Munster 30-0 at the RDS in the biggest game of the Magners League season so far.
Tries from Gordon D'Arcy, Shane Horgan and Brian O'Driscoll and 15 points from the boot of fly-half Jonny Sexton propelled the home side to their third victory of the season and sounded out a warning to their European rivals ahead of the defence of their Heineken Cup crown that begins next weekend.
The match was also marred by a red card for Munster prop John Hayes who was given his marching orders after 55 minutes for stamping on the face of a prone Cian Healy with the television replays drawing groans from the capacity crowd. However, the incident was just part of the story as Leinster produced their most complete display of the professional era.
Leinster won all of the individual battles, dominated the set-piece and never dropped their intensity in both defence and attack, with 15-point hero Jonathan Sexton comfortably putting his out-half rival Ronan O'Gara in the shade. It was a typically breathless opening as the provincial rivals tore into each other, showing immense physicality with the Leinster pack menacingly coming to the fore.
Jamie Heaslip, Kevin McLaughlin and the energetic Nathan Hines put in some huge hits, as did Horgan and O'Driscoll in his first match back since the Lions tour. Playing into a swirling wind, Munster's usual precision was missing. Donncha O'Callaghan was whistled up for being ahead of the kicker in the fifth minute, allowing Sexton to boot Leinster in front.
O'Gara miscued with his first penalty attempt, much to the delight of the home fans, and the blue tide swept forward under Leo Cullen's baton. They should have scored the opening try when an outstanding maul drive brought them to within inches of the Munster whitewash.
Tomas O'Leary was fortunate to avoid a yellow card when conceding a penalty under his posts, but Sexton's resulting penalty gave Leinster some reward. Continuing to win the collisions, the hosts pulled 13-0 clear after 26 minutes with a classy try engineered by McLaughlin's grunt and O'Driscoll's guile.
The young flanker made the hard yards in the middle before O'Driscoll fixed both Marcus Horan and Denis Leamy with a terrific pass to Horgan. The big winger galloped forward and offloaded inside for the supporting D'Arcy to ease over. Sexton added the conversion and while Munster improved in open play, gaining territory with leg-pumping bursts from Leamy and Nick Williams, a couple of excellent turnovers saw Leinster hold firm for a 13-0 half-time lead.
Six minutes into the second half, the game was effectively beyond Munster's reach. O'Driscoll scampered past Jean de Villiers and away from Keith Earls' grasp for another try, which Sexton converted. Lions captain Paul O'Connell and David Wallace made little impression off the bench for Munster as the men in red continued to struggle for quality possession and Leinster's tackle count rose further.
As Munster attempted to maul forward on their 22, a grounded Healy looked to bring it down illegally and Hayes took matters into his own hands by lashing out with his right boot. Ireland's most-capped player saw red and Sexton stretched Leinster's lead to 23 points.
Nine minutes from the finish, Horgan rubbed salt into Munster wounds by intercepting a Paul Warwick pass that was bound for De Villiers and romping over for a deserved try. Sexton's successful conversion brought the curtains down on Leinster's 11th straight win at their Dublin base and the first occasion Munster have been held scoreless in league action.