Leinster has courted Lady Luck all year, with tight victories in important matches, but she abandoned them the final outing of the season.
Lowe was unlucky when he collided with Andrew Conway, and he could have avoided it. The punishment, a red card, was the suitable punishment. Players leaping to catch high balls are defenceless and should have the protection of the law.
Having watched the replay several times, it looks like there was no malice involved; it was simply poor execution of a chase. Lowe had been in the wars earlier, as temperatures soared and tempers boiled over.
Tadhg Furlong was another victim of bad luck. His clear out at the ruck caught the Munster player on the head. Only a moment before, Cloete was shifted into that position by another ruck-clearing Leinster player. It was the combination of the two actions that caused the high hit.
Cian Healy’s high tackle was more clear cut. He simply went too high. It followed a string of extremely indisciplined play by Leinster, Scott Fardy looked off the pace and was pinged several times.
The other notable piece of bad luck was the interception of Ciarán Frawley’s pass by Keith Earls for a score, when Leinster were building pressure to get back within a score. Had they scored there, it might have lead to another grandstand finish, and a comeback, just seven days after overturning Connacht’s seventeen point lead.
There were some positives. Noel Reid had an excellent game. His passing has always been good, and showed his skills well on the night, also kicking well. He has not had a lot of opportunity to playing outside Johnny Sexton; they made a good combination.
The Leinster Front row, apart from the yellow cards, played well at scrum and in the loose. James Tracy’s throwing in the line out, however, was not perfect. He missed a few unforgivable throws when Leinster were deep in red territory.
Leinster dominated in both the possession and territory statistics at about 60% in each. This did not translate to points as they never held the lead in the match. Given that they spent over fifty minutes with fourteen men and another eight with thirteen underlines that they put in a huge shift.
Leinster played some exciting rugby, with Garry Ringrose standing out, and Larmour and O’Loughlin causing havoc.
The forwards took some time to settle down, but eventually matched what Munster had. With the exception of the breakaway intercept try from Keith Earls (who was outstanding once again) Leinster looked to be the team that was finishing better.
The story of the night, however, is that Munster took their scores better, with Joey Carbery keeping the pressure on Leinster by kicking all his penalty and conversion attempts. Playing the entire second half with fourteen players and most of it by two scores down was always going to be a bridge too far.
Leinster has ridden their luck all year. It’s been a great season, with only one or two blips along the way. This game was always going to be tough, but it feels like one that got away.
There is still one more derby to play. It feels like this Christmas just keeps giving. Ulster were awful away to Connacht and if they bring that game to Dublin then they might be in for a drubbing.
An easy victory, while not good for the neutrals, might allow us to recover from the heart-stressing panic that the last few weekends have given us. Then European actions kick off.