Guinness Pro14: Leinster v MunsterLeinster: (14) 23Tries: O’Loughlin 2 Cons: Sexton 2 Pens: Sexton 3Munster: (7) 17Tries: Keatley, Earls 2 Cons: Keatley
Johnny Sexton became Leinster’s all-time leading points scorer as the hosts held off Munster in the Irish Pro14 derby at the Aviva Stadium.
Rory O’Loughlin barged over on 17 minutes and while Ian Keatley’s intercept effort levelled the game, Leinster centre O’Loughlin scored his second to make it 14-7 at the break.
A Keith Earls try cut the margin to 17-12 before two Sexton penalties.
Earls notched his second try late on to secure Munster a losing bonus point.
Ireland fly-half Sexton, one of seven of this year’s British and Irish Lions squad who started, pulled the strings for Leinster and kicked 13 points to break Felipe Contepomi’s record of 1,225 points, setting a new mark of 1,234 for the Dublin-based team.
But, in front of a crowd of 46,374, his young team-mate Joey Carbery was also hugely impressive.
The strong-running Carbery, among five specialist fly-halves in action, played a key role in O’Loughlin’s second try but also produced a try-saving tackle to deny Earls, in addition to a number of clever kicks in behind the Munster defence.
Sexton’s composure was key to Leinster’s victory as he linked up brilliantly with Carbery for O’Loughlin’s second try and then opted to take points early in the second half rather than kicking for the corner.
Those nine points after the break proved enough of a cushion for the home side as they took the victory despite being outscored on the try-count.
Sexton was joined by his fellow Lions Robbie Henshaw, Jack McGrath and Tadhg Furlong in the Leinster team with Conor Murray, CJ Stander and Peter O’Mahony starting for Munster.
O’Loughlin punished John Ryan’s missed tackle to score his first try and while Henshaw’s midfield fumble gifted Keatley Munster’s reply, the centre then finished off a delightful attacking move for his second score before the break.
Ironically, Keatley’s try came when Munster were temporarily down to 14 men following prop Niall Scannell’s sin-binning for a deliberate knock on.
Earls, playing his first game of the season, punished Adam Byrne’s poor positioning as he charged over in the left corner after the break and beat the Leinster defence again with three minutes left to secure Munster a point.
Leinster’s win moves them level on points with Conference B leaders Ulster although Scarlets will go top if the beat the Ospreys on Saturday evening.
Leinster: J Carbery; A Byrne, R O’Loughlin, R Henshaw, B Daly; J Sexton (capt), L McGrath; J McGrath, J Tracy, T Furlong, D Toner, S Fardy, R Ruddock, J van der Flier, J Conan.
Replacements: S Cronin, C Healy, M Bent, R Molony, J Murphy, J Gibson-Park, R Byrne, F McFadden.
Munster: JJ Hanrahan; A Conway, C Farrell, T Bleyendaal, K Earls; I Keatley, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, N Scannell, J Ryan, R Copeland, B Holland, P O’Mahony, T O’Donnell, CJ Stander.
Replacements: R Marshall, L O’Connor, S Archer, M Flanagan, J O’Donoghue, D Williams, R Scannell, A Wootton.