Pro14: Munster punish 14-man Leinster 26-17 at Thomond Park
|Pro14: Munster v Leinster|
|Munster (13) 26|
|Tries: Cloete, Earls Cons: Carbery, Bleyendaal Pens: Carbery 4|
|Leinster (3) 17|
|Tries: Tracy, Deegan Cons: Sexton, Frawley Pen: Sexton|
Munster ended Leinster's seven-game unbeaten streak with a fractious 26-17 Pro14 derby victory at Thomond Park.
Leinster played with 14 men for over an hour after a red card for James Lowe and sin-binnings for Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong in the first 32 minutes.
Chris Cloete got Munster's opening try before he was stretchered off and a Keith Earls' intercept sealed the win.
James Tracy and Max Deegan both got consolation scores for Leinster during a scrappy second-half.
The Munster victory ended their four-match losing streak against their provincial rivals as they returned to second place in the Conference A standings while Leinster will seek to bounce back when they host Ulster, who are their closest challengers in Conference B, at the RDS on 5 January.
The latest meeting between the two arch-rivals of Irish rugby got off to a fiery start as the game threatened to boil over at every break in play.
Johnny Sexton was warned for his reaction to a late hit by Fineen Wycherley and the Ireland fly-half then became embroiled in another flashpoint when he flung opposite number Joey Carbery to the ground.
A Scott Fardy high tackle sparked another melee after a scintillating break by Earls and Munster took advantage by kicking into the corner and mauling Cloete over the line for a crucial score.
Healy was sin-binned within seconds of the restart for a high tackle on Conor Murray as referee Frank Murphy struggled to keep the peace but Leinster got their opening points while down to 14 men as Sexton landed a penalty.
Lowe sees red
Furlong was yellow carded just minutes after the return of Healy when his shoulder charge struck Cloete in the head and Leinster were further reduced to 13 men when Lowe was sent off.
The wing chased after Luke McGrath's box kick but failed to get into the air to contest with Andrew Conway and referee Murphy was left with no choice but to flash the red card when the Munster player landed awkwardly on his neck.
Carbery sought to hammer home Munster's numerical advantage with two more successful penalties to build a 13-3 half-time lead.
Leinster keep battling
Carbery stretched the home side's lead just three minutes after the restart but Leinster showed their mettle with a dogged second-half performance as they battled to salvage something from the game.
Tracy wriggled over the line from a powerful rolling maul to shrink the gap to just six points as the 14-man visitors began to look more like the defending champions even as head coach Leo Cullen replaced the likes of Sexton, Furlong and Garry Ringrose.
The hosts added another penalty from the boot of Carbery but Leinster hammered up to within five metres of the opposition line with less than 10 minutes remaining as they threatened a second try only for Earls to intercept Ciaran Frawley's pass and sprint 85 metres to get the match-clinching score.
Leinster continued to fight to the end and were rewarded for their efforts when replacement number eight Max Deegan drove over in stoppage time for a consolation try.
Munster: Haley; Conway, Goggin, R Scannell, Earls; Carbery, Murray; Kilcoyne, N Scannell, Ryan, Kleyn, Beirne; Wycherley, Cloete, Stander (capt).
Replacements: O'Byrne, Loughman, Archer, Holland, Botha, Mathewson, Bleyendaal, Sweetnam.
Leinster: Larmour; O'Loughlin, Ringrose, Reid, Lowe; Sexton (capt), McGrath; Healy, Tracy, Furlong, Fardy, Ryan; Ruddock, Van der Flier, Conan.
Replacements: Byrne, Dooley, Bent, Molony, Deegan, O'Sullivan, Frawley, O'Brien.
Sin bin: Healy (17), Furlong (30)
Red card: Lowe (32)
Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)