leinsterfans.com: Supporting Leinster Rugby
skip to content

Leinster Rugby vs Munster Rugby
Guinness Pro14 Rainbow Cup
RDS Arena, Dublin
Saturday, 24th April 2021, 19:35

TV: Eir Sports

Not this lot again!!!

For what feels like the tenth time this season, it's Leinster versus bloody Munster!!

Actually it's only the third time this season that Leinster and Munster will play each other but it feels like a lot, lot more. This is because the two teams also played each other twice as the remainder of last season was played out in August and September. This will be their fifth meeting in eight months and you wouldn't blame the players for being sick of the sight of each other.

There's probably a decent chance they'll meet again in the final of this competition now that the South African teams it was created for now won't be in it. Or at least they won't be in this "Northern" version of it. The four South African teams will just play each other for the laugh as Covid-19 travel restrictions meant this woefully misconceived tournament will be effectively split into two.

The 12 Pro14 clubs will initially play three rounds of local derbies and then another three rounds against teams from outside their countries and then a final in June. Of course, the organisers haven't even bothered cobbling together a website which hardly lessens the shambolic nature of the tournament. But Leinster and Ulster will know beggars can't be choosers and will be grateful for competitive games to play as they're still in European contention hopefully until late May if both teams make their respective finals.

It will be a struggle for Connacht and Munster to really find motivation for the competition. Some will say they can use it to stay in contention for the Lions, but let's be honest no one is going to be picked on what happens in the Rainbow Cup. Some in the media will pull that old acorn out of sending CJ Stander into retirement with a trophy in his hand. But frankly that didn't seem to do much for them in the Pro14 final a month ago. Munster didn't just lose, they went down limply without even a fight. The ten-point margin flattered them massively and no Munster fan could have complained about a margin twice that size if Leinster had been more ruthless with all the chances they created.

For all Leinster and Munster play, the result tends to be the same lately with Leinster winning 10 of the last 11 meetings including a now record sixth win on the trot after the win in the Pro14 final. In fairness, mostly the games are close with often only a score in it, but Munster must be sick to death of losing at this stage so might view tomorrow's game as a chance to break the cycle if nothing else. In fairness Munster performed much better in losing to Toulouse in a wonderfully entertaining match in the Champions Cup. At one stage they looked likely winners but Toulouse took Munster's much vaunted defence apart in the second half for four tries.

Munster scored four tries themselves that day and at the very least they will want to have a better attacking performance than their dismal effort in the Pro14 final where they never really looked like scoring a try. Johann van Graan has named a near full strength team showing four changes from the team that started the Pro14 final. Dave Kilcoyne and Stephen Archer come in to start at prop and Jack O'Donoghue replaces Gavin Coombes in the back row. The only change to the backline sees Shane Daly start in place of Andrew Conway on the wing.

For Leinster, the main focus of this game is getting some big hitters back into the mix while resting some of the players who were most active during the Six Nations. Garry Ringrose is back to captain the team from the centre alongside Rory O'Loughlin. Jordan Larmour moves to full back so Dave Kearney comes in on the right wing with James Lowe staying on the left. With injury doubts over Jonathan Sexton and Jamison Gibson-Park, Leinster are right not to take any chances with Ross Byrne and Luke McGrath. So Harry Byrne and Hugh O'Sullivan are the starting half-backs and Cormac Foley will make his Leinster debut off the bench if called upon.

In the pack Ed Byrne, Dan Sheehan and Andrew Porter come in to form a massively dynamic front row. Ross Molony and Ryan Baird are the second row and Scott Penny and Caelan Doris are fit enough to be able to start alongside Josh Murphy in the back row. It's great to see both Doris and James Ryan (who's named on the bench) back again after their recent concussion issues. Ciaran Frawley and Tommy O'Brien are two more players who've come off the injured list to start on the bench.

Michael Bent is also named on the bench. He announced his retirement during the week and it's a real shame that fans won't be able to give him the send-off he deserves in person. He's arguably been Leinster's player of the season. With Tadhg Furlong and Vakh Abdaladze injured for most of the season and Andrew Porter needed by Ireland it was Benty who kept the show on the road. He put in massive scrum performances and also scored more tries than ever before. He was a player never respected outside the province but Leinster fans know his true worth. We all wish him the best for the future on his return to New Zealand.

In Leinster's last outing away to Exeter, they put in their best performance in a long time. After going 14-0 behind after ten minutes, Leinster fans wouldn't be blamed for fearing another Saracens like defeat, but Leinster showed great character and composure to come right back at the Champions. In a game everyone expected to be a tight arm wrestle, it was instead a hugely entertaining game with five of the game's six tries coming from wingers. Leinster played smarter rugby and chose their battles really well. La Rochelle away in two weeks time will be another tough trip though so Leinster will take tomorrow's game seriously as another chance to improve in certain areas.

With the respective strength of the two sides named, Munster really should win this game handily enough. But Leinster just hate losing to Munster so you wouldn't be too surprised if they found a way to keep the winning run going.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby

Munster Rugby
Teams Jordan Larmour
15 Mike Haley
Dave Kearney
14 Keith Earls
Garry Ringrose (C) 13 Chris Farrell
Rory O'Loughlin 12 Damian de Allende
James Lowe 11 Shane Daly
Harry Byrne 10 Joey Carbery
Hugh O'Sullivan 9 Conor Murray

Ed Byrne 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Dan Sheehan 2 Niall Scannell
Andrew Porter 3 Stephen Archer
Ross Molony 4 Jean Kleyn
Ryan Baird 5 Tadhg Beirne
Josh Murphy 6 Peter O'Mahony (C)
Scott Penny 7 Jack O'Donoghue
Caelan Doris 8 CJ Stander

Replacements Sean Cronin
16 Diarmuid Barron
Peter Dooley 17 Jeremy Loughman
Michael Bent 18 Keynan Knox
James Ryan 19 Fineen Wycherley
Scott Fardy20 Gavin Coombes
Cormac Foley 21 Craig Casey
Ciaran Frawley 22 Ben Healy
Tommy O'Brien 23 Calvin Nash

Not Considered
due to Injury
Conor O'Brien,
Dan Leavy,
Adam Byrne,
Max Deegan,
David Hawkshaw,
Jimmy O'Brien,
Jamison Gibson-Park,
Jack Dunne,
Rowan Osborne,
Jonathan Sexton,
Will Connors

Fineen Wycherley,
Dan Goggin,
Neil Cronin,
RG Snyman,
Paddy Patterson
Officials Referee: Chris Busby (IRFU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2021-04-23