Pro14: Munster 24-34 Leinster
|Munster (5) 24|
|Tries: Murray, Keatley, Conway 2 Cons: Keatley|
|Leinster (27) 34|
|Tries: Leavy, Penalty Try, Henshaw, Larmour Cons: Byrne 3, Penalty Pens: Byrne 2|
Leinster's largely second-string side held off Munster in a thrilling Pro14 Irish derby at Thomond Park.
The visitors led 13-0 as Ross Byrne booted over eight points and superbly cross-kicked for Dan Leavy to score.
Conor Murray's try got Munster off the mark early but Leinster hit back with a penalty try and a Robbie Henshaw score.
Trailing 27-5 at half-time, Ian Keatley and Andrew Conway replied for Munster before Jordan Larmour's clinching solo try with Conway scoring again late on.
Leinster selected only Henshaw, Devin Toner and Jack Conan from the side which started in the European win over Exeter with Johnny Sexton, Rob Kearney, Garry Ringrose and Sean O'Brien among those left out.
Munster looked to have the stronger hand as they included British & Irish Lions Murray, Peter O'Mahony and CJ Stander but Leinster's fast start gave them a cushion which ultimately proved sufficient despite the home team's considerable improvement in the second period.
Munster comeback stopped in its tracks
Despite Leinster's 22-point half-time lead, Munster were right back in the contest within nine minutes of the restart after Keatley's try was quickly followed by Conway's first touchdown.
With Keatley's two conversions helping to cut the Leinster lead to only eight points, a sensational Munster comeback looked on as they continued to produce intense pressure.
But then came probably the key moment of the match as Leavy's vital 68th-minute turnover ended a siege of the Leinster line.
Within two minutes young full-back Larmour had sealed the away team's victory with as he ran from his own 10-metre line before holding off Simon Zebo's despairing attempt to prevent the try.
Larmour, 20, was playing in his first festive Irish inter-provincial derby and his score lit up the occasion which was watched by a crowd of 26,267.
Conway's late second try meant Munster picked up a four-try bonus point but that was scant consolation for the home faithful.
The key period of the first half came in the five minutes after Murray's Munster try.
Firstly, referee Nigel Owens awarded a penalty try as he adjudged that Conway had committed an early tackle on James Lowe as the Leinster wing bore down on Rory O'Loughlin's grubber kick.
With Conway sin-binned, two minutes later O'Loughlin's run helped set up Henshaw's try, with Barry Daly supplying the off-load to the centre, as Leinster extended their half-time lead to 22 points.
Munster: Conway; Sweetnam, Arnold, R Scannell, Wootton; Keatley, Murray; Kilcoyne, O'Byrne, Archer; Kleyn, Holland; O'Mahony (capt), O'Donnell, Stander.
Replacements: N Scannell for Byrne half-time, Cronin for Kilcoyne 61, Ryan for Archer 61, O'Shea for Holland 75, O'Donoghue for O'Donnell 60, Williams for Murray 75, Hanrahan for Keatley 70, Zebo for Sweetnam 45.
Leinster: Larmour; Daly, O'Loughlin, Henshaw, Lowe; R Byrne, Gibson-Park; McGrath (capt), Tracy, Bent; Toner, Ryan; Murphy, Leavy, Conan
Replacements: Strauss for Tracy 65, E Byrne for McGrath half-time, Furlong for Bent 46, M Kearney for Ryan 46, Van der Flier for Murphy 65, McCarthy for Gibson-Park 75, Marsh for Byrne 77, Reid for Daly 56, Tracy for Strauss 77.
Referee: N Owens (Wales)