Leinster saw off Munster by 30 points to 22 amidst some tough TMO calls that first saw Keith Earls sent to the sin bin and then called him back from an intercept try.
The referee used the letter of the law in the tenth minute when Earls collided with James Lowe as he was about to receive a pass. That he interfered with Lowe’s catch is true. The referee had no option, deciding that the change in Earl’s motion proved that it was an early tackle.
Could Earls have stopped the try had Lowe caught the ball? It was deemed that he could not have, although I think he would have given it a decent effort. In some ways the referee had his hands tied by the rules. It had to be a yellow card. It had to be a penalty try.
It seems that the rules don’t quite marry with the spirit of the game in this scenario. A penalty, no sin bin, might have been a fairer result.
Leinster soon added a second try, James Lowe again the last blue player to touch the ball scoring nicely. No drama this time round, but it did involve a spectacular score in the score, a corner that Earls would have been helping to defend had he been on the pitch. In some ways his mistake cost Munster fourteen points, as Byrne slotted home conversion from wide out.
The plan went a little pear shaped after that. Munster had a period of dominance and got two tries of their own. It seemed as if every bounce of the oval ball was in their favour at one stage. Their forwards bossed the game for a while, first Tadhg Beirne and then CJ Stander scoring.
That Carbery missed the first conversion, his first opportunity to score against his old team, shows how difficult a changeover it is to move provinces in Ireland. There must have been some part of his mind thinking about wearing blue.
Other than that kick, he was excellent yesterday, getting over that one blip in his copy book quickly. He showed all his usual liveliness, dancing feet and all until he was replaced around the seventy minute mark.
Ross Byrne managed the game well, electing to kick penalties to keep the scoreboard ticking over rather than pushing into the corver. A measure of respect for Munster perhaps. He was awarded man of the match by the press team.
The second incident involving Earls and the officials happened in the second half. Henshaw was tackled and the ball was knocked out of his hands; Earls picked it up and no one could get close to him. The assistant referee says he thought that it was a deliberate know on. Hmm. Not sure that I’d agree with that.
I do think it was a penalty. The Munster player knocked it forward, but not intentionally. Not on in the tackle. Earls was ahead of the action and therefore offside when he picked up the ball. Perhaps the referee misunderstood his assistant, but the correct result came of it, even if it did confuse the Munster players and everyone viewing on TV.
It would have been nice to see Leinster go after the bonus point. But they elected to kick penalties so keep two scores in front. Probably sensisble. No need for a dramatic finish.
The story so far
There’s a bit of a break in the Pro 14 while the European Cup compertitions take place. Let’s take a look at how things are shaping up after six rounds.
|Conference A||Conference B|
It’s looking similar to last year, but Glasgow to not have quite the lead that they had last year. Leinster have had a better than usual start.
The stakes go up next Friday, however, and they will need to cut out the mistakes to ensure victory next week. Wasps are third in a competitive Gallagher Premiership. They suffered their second loss of the season yesterday against Gloucester. A surprise considering they were at home.