FT Leinster 15 Munster 16: Munster to play Stormers in URC final

Look back on the action as it happened as Connacht came up short in South Africa before Munster edged Leinster at the Aviva


So that’s that ... Munster will play the Stormers in the URC final in Cape Town on May 27th. Connacht fell short in a wild and sloppy encounter in South Africa, before a thrilling, attritional encounter at the Aviva. Munster gave it everything and looked to be coming up short, paying the price for not taking their chances. Before a bit of magic from Jack Crowley gave them a win they deserved!

Both Leinster and Munster have a big final ahead of them now, which will define each of their seasons.

Keep an eye on the homepage for Gerry Thornley’s report and reaction from the Aviva.

Thanks for joining us!


FT Leinster 15 Munster 16


The match winning moment!

Jack Crowley (man of the match): “We are in the final, that’s where you want to be! You saw what it took out there to beat them. It took everything we had to beat them!

“(The drop goal) that moment that the ball goes over the bar that’s what you practice for, that’s what you have to do. But today was more than a moment.”


FT Leinster 15 Munster 16 - Casey kicks it out of play. Munster really did do it the hard way, but they won’t care. They are into the URC final!!


Leinster are adjudged to have been ahead of the kicker from the restart. Munster secure possession and have it on halfway. With less than a minute left...


Leinster 15 Munster 16 (78′) DROP GOAL!! Casey to Crowley. The next generation of Munster players deliver under pressure!! Crowley floats over a drop goal to put Munster in front!


Fineen Wycherley turns it over and Munster look to run it out from deep. Then after an exchange of kicks they are just outside the Leinster 22! One last chance, they aren’t giving this up!


Leinster 15 Munster 13 (75′) Henshaw smashes Earls out of touch with a big tackle after Earls was sold short with a dead hanging kick out by the sideline. He knocked it on before going out leading to a scrum. Cian Healy has made an impact since coming on and Leinster win a penalty at scrum time and kick for the corner.


Munster’s strong lineout maul brings them past the Leinster 22. But Haley spills it and Leinster kick long and chase. Crowley recovers well and Casey kicks to halfway. Both teams looking tired after a massive effort so far!


Leinster 15 Munster 13 (65′) TRY!! Leinster go through the phases themselves, and Joe McCarthy powers over. Frawley’s conversion is a poor one. McCarthy follows up with a big turnover on halfway. A big impact by the young lock! His breakthrough season has been hit by injuries but he’s making up for lost time here the young American born secondrow!


At the other end Tommy O’Brien chases a kick from Byrne down but is beaten to it by Haley who forces a knock on from the Leinster winger with a last ditch lunge for the ball. Try saving moments at both ends!!


Munster are made to fight for every inch and they come within a few of the line. Daly had made ground with a great pass out wide and Casey did brilliantly to keep things moving. But Baird and Jenkins come up with the decisive play as they smash Roman Salanoa to force a knock on!


Munster work through the phases, carry after carry, into the Leinster 22. Crowley and Haley combine and pass it out wide to Earls who pops a beautiful offload inside to Daly but brilliant Leinster defence denies them a try. Munster are awarded a penalty after the 18 phases and a penalty advantage come to nothing, and they kick to the corner. A scrappy lineout is eventually won and they have it on the 22...


A huge hit by Ngatai forces a turnover on halfway. Leinster then go off their feet a few seconds later. Chaotic stuff as both teams give it everything. After 53 minutes it’s Leinster 10 Munster 13.


Sloppy by Munster in dealing with the restart and Leinster attack from their scrum. With Harry Byrne pulling strings they work their way into the Munster 22... just a few metres from the line Munster come up with the turnover. Who else but Tadhg Beirne! Heroic stuff by the Munster defence as that Leinster attack was looking very menacing as they eased through the phases and into the 22!


Leinster 10 Munster 13 (46′) TRY MUNSTER!!!! Tadhg Beirne gets it! With the penalty advantage again the big man with the blue scrumcap tears over the line. Conversion is added by Crowley.


Leinster rip it away once again, but this time it’s back for a Munster penalty. They tap and go...


Munster move into the Leinster 22 again after good work by Haley and Scannell. They need to get it out wide but keep hammering at that Leinster defensive line, five metres short...


Leinster 10 Munster 6 (40′) The second half is underway. Ben Healy who was sent for a HIA in the closing stages of the first half has not returned. Peter O’Mahony makes a big break for Munster’s first attack of the half but the move ends with Leinster ripping the ball away again. Then within a minute Coombes makes another big break and this time Munster stay calm and go through the phases, but once inside the 22 they knock it on!


HT Leinster 10 Munster 6 - Munster had at least three big try scoring chances in that half which all ended with a Leinster player ripping the ball away. Then Leinster got their chance at the end of the half and took it.

Still though, Munster are more than in this, it’s been so physical and they’ve competed for everything. But have got to start taking their chances.


Leinster 10 Munster 6 (34′) Beautiful soft hands by Leinster to set Henshaw free and he goes wide to Kearney as he enters the Munster 22 and the Leinster winger steps back infield. But the Munster defence holds firm, with a big hit on Charlie Ngatai killing the momentum. The first time of asking at least, as Leinster come again and Henshaw offloads in the tackle to big Jason Jenkins who scores the first try of the game. That’s how you execute, Munster. TRY Leinster!


Leinster 3 Munster 6 (34′) A deliberate knock on by Luke McGrath leads to another Munster penalty which they kick to the corner. The lineout is clean and they work it into the centre but the Leinster defence rip the ball away again!! Munster failing to show their dominance on the scoreboard.


Opportunity lost. Munster lose it as they set up a lineout maul and look to gather a little momentum. They are back again though, in possession after a lineout win just outside the Leinster 22. Defences on top here at both ends.


Keith Earls breaks down the wing and his pass inside is knocked on but it’s back for an earlier penalty. Munster turn down the three points and kick for the corner..


Free-kick Munster as the referee penalises the hosts at scrum time. They go again, work it out to Keith Earls who kicks into the corner. Some loose kicks are exchanged and Munster come away with it and work their way past the Leinster 10m line. Into the 22 now...


Leinster 3 Munster 6 (24′) Healy’s kick is good and Munster are in front for the first time.


Penalty Munster for a tackle off the ball at the breakdown. This has been really physical early on. As Shane Daly receives some treatment for a blood injury, Healy points to the posts..


Leinster 3 Munster 3 (22′) Munster secure lineout ball in the Leinster 22 but it’s scrappy and they are driven back initially. They still have it though, five metres shy of the 22...


No try. The ball was knocked on in the high ball contest before Baird gathered. That’s a shame as that run deserved a try!


WOW! Ryan Baird takes the ball on the bounce under a Garryowen on halfway, and he shows a massive turn of pace to burst inside the Munster 22, then he shows gears to slow and go again and cross over for a try. That’s remarkable athleticism for a secondrow. TMO however is checking for a knock on..


A comfortable first scrum for Munster just inside their half. Jimmy O’Brien does well then to cover across and claim a kick into the left corner. And Leinster are suddenly in possession on halfway. O’Brien then skips past two tackles out wide and Leinster move past the Munster 10m line. But Peter O’Mahony comes up with a big turnover. More excellent, physical defence.


A tackle off the ball leads to a Leinster penalty, they kick into the Munster 22. Their lineout maul is held up but they quickly work it across to the other wing. And then back into the centre. At the end of it Jimmy O’Brien is driven out of touch, superb Munster defence with Keith Earls to the fore.


Leinster 3 Munster 3 (11′) A beautiful kick from Ben Healy from the resultant penalty. And it’s level.


Munster go through the phases and inch to within a few metres of the line but van der Flier drives Jeremy Loughman back and rips the ball. Leinster clear but Munster come back again. Jack Conan then concedes a penalty at the breakdown.


Great work by Diarmuid Barron, he gets over Tommy O’Brien and wins a penalty for Munster. The visitors’ lineout maul makes some ground and wins them a penalty as Leinster come in from the side. They kick to the corner...


Turnover penalty for van der Flier who makes an instant impact. Leinster kick into the Munster half and their first lineout is good. They’re just outside the Munster 10m line...


Leinster 3 Munster 0 (2′) Harry Byrne from close range slots the penalty. A big chance for him today.


An early stoppage in play as Will Connors receives treatment for a head injury. His head hit the ground hard, after a high tackle. Penalty awarded to Leinster on review. Connors’ injury woes continue and he’s replaced by Josh van der Flier. Wishing him a speedy recovery!


Leinster 0 Munster 0 (1′) Keith Earls gathers Harry Byrne’s kick-off and Munster look to run it out before Craig Casey’s up and under is gathered by Luke McGrath and Leinster are in possession in the Munster half. GAME ON!


Pre-match thoughts of the head coaches...

Leo Cullen: “Freshness is important as we have big game after big game. Hopefully you’ll see guys that are fully motivated and ready to go! It’s a good pressure, it’s a great place to be. We’ve tried to be brave in terms of some of the selections and we will see how it goes.”

Graham Rowntree: “Fifth game on the road, we are battle hardened. We lost some guys this week but I still think we have put out a cracking squad and we’ve picked what we think is right for this game.”


Leinster’s Dave Kearney: “If we bring that physicality too it should be a good game. Last week we probably didn’t get tested but it’s a different test today and if we don’t get our physicality right we could be off to a tough start.”

Munster captain Peter O’Mahony: “We need to put in our best performance of the year. You’ve got to be physical, set piece wise, defensively be very accurate and attack wise take your opportunities.”


If Munster get an early foothold on the scoreboard, they have a real chance. But there must be a doubt about Peter O’Mahony’s fitness over 80 minutes and their ability to cope with Leinster’s launch players and live with their tempo.

Check out Gerry Thornley’s preview and prediction here


Attention now turns to the second semi-final!

United Rugby Championship semi-final: Leinster v Munster, Saturday, Aviva Stadium, 5.30pm (Live on RTÉ and Premier Sports)

LEINSTER: Jimmy O’Brien, Tommy O’Brien, Robbie Henshaw, Charlie Ngatai, Dave Kearney, Harry Byrne, Luke McGrath (capt), Michael Milne, Rónan Kelleher, Michael Ala’alatoa, Ryan Baird, Jason Jenkins, Max Deegan, Will Connors, Jack Conan. Replacements: John McKee, Cian Healy, Thomas Clarkson, Joe McCarthy, Josh van der Flier, Nick McCarthy, Ciarán Frawley, Liam Turner.

MUNSTER: Mike Haley, Keith Earls, Antoine Frisch, Jack Crowley, Shane Daly, Ben Healy, Craig Casey, Jeremy Loughman, Diarmuid Barron, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony (capt), John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes. Replacements: Niall Scannell, Josh Wycherley, Roman Salanoa, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue, Neil Cronin, Rory Scannell, Alex Kendellen.

Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU).

Overall URC record: Played 47. Leinster 32 wins. Munster 15 wins.

Forecast: Leinster to win.


FT Stormers 43 Connacht 25 Three tries in the final six minutes!

Connacht gave it everything there but will look back on some really basic errors and some poor defence, before that storming finish by the hosts to make the full-time scoreline a bit misleading. The South Africans looked menacing at times, but on a terrible playing surface, they also made error after error and were there for the taking for a large part of that contest.

Libbok (man of the match): “They came at us but we stuck in there and absorbed it and stuck to the plan and it paid off. (The wind) made it tough for the kickers but we had to get on with it.”


FT Stormers 43 Connacht 25 Exhibition stuff from the hosts to seal it. Libbok executes another brilliant crossfield kick, Dayimani takes it on the bounce and the big flanker sets up a try with a beautiful behind the back pass. Nel with the try and this time the conversion follows. And that’s that. The defending champions are back in the final.


Stormers 36 Connacht 25 (78′) Some kick tennis ends with a knock on from Daly. Hacjivah Dayimani punishes it and Marcel Theunisse gets the try that should end this as a contest. The conversion is sliced.


Stormers 31 Connacht 25 (75′) TRY Connacht! After securing their own lineout, they go wide after some quick offloads and Hansen loops one for replacement Byron Ralston to score in the corner. A brilliant team try. Daly slices the conversion.


A look back at Connacht’s third try as the Stormers kick a penalty into the wind and wide of the posts. Still 11 points between the teams with 71 minutes gone.

After a poorly executed lineout Porch gives Connacht another opportunity with a superb 50/22 kick!


The Stormers are penalised for playing the ball on the ground and Carty’s penalty and a good lineout brings Connacht just outside the South African’s 22. But a misplaced pass from Aki is just about recovered and puts them on the back foot and back in their own half.


Stormers 31 Connacht 20 (60′) Stormers grab a fourth. Passive defence with the assist as they work it from deep on a penalty advantage, and Paul de Wet just after coming on shows a great turn off pace to finish off the move. The conversion from under the posts is good.


Willemse takes Carty out in the air giving Connacht a penalty and chance to kick into the Stormers half. But a subsequent good opportunity is ended by a forward pass. Jordan Duggan, Jack Aungier, Jarrad Butler and Kieran Marmion are all on.


Stormers 24 Connacht 20 (60′) Carty nails the conversion. Game is well and truly on again!


TRY!! Scrum for Connacht is solid again and they move into the Stormers 22. Farrell goes on his own for the corner and draws in a number of tacklers. Connacht then work it back inside and Hurley-Langton inches over the line! Huge work by their forwards there, showing massive physicality!


Stormers 24 Connacht 13 (55′) Off a solid Connacht scrum it’s worked out to Hansen on the left wing and he brings Connacht just shy of the Stormers 22. Then Connacht are awarded a penalty for an off the ball tackle, but their lineout malfunctions. But a Stormers knock on gives them another go at it..


Farrell makes a crucial pass interception to end another really dangerous Stormers attack. Errors on both sides here on a really poor playing surface.


Stormers 24 Connacht 13 (46′) A mix of strong running and really hesitant defence by Connacht and the hosts look to be closing in on a fourth try before the referee spots some crossing (he’s missed a lot so far so it’s nice for Connacht to get the call with this one). Allowing Carty to bring the visitors to halfway.


The second half is underway with Connacht showing plenty of desire out of the blocks. They knock on from the restart, then the Stormers knock-on with a bit of handbags following, which Connacht come out on top in. Ben-Jason Dixon is penalised for coming in late and Connacht get the penalty but then knock on after a good lineout.


HT Stormers 24 Connacht 13


Stormers 24 Connacht 13 (28′) What a wild game! TRY CONNACHT! They are back in business. Carty with a good offload, Tom Farrell with a huge break. Buckley then plays a key role with another sharp offload before Conor Oliver shows huge grit to power over. The ball then blows off the tee before Carty can take the conversion but the referee says he’d already started his run up. That sums this crazy half of rugby up.


Stormers 24 Connacht 8 (28′) Davids breaks through the Connacht line off the lineout, then another missed tackle by Connacht allows the Stormers in for a third try. With Libbok at the end of it again. The conversion is good too.


Carty mixing the good with the bad here, for the second time he fails to find touch with a penalty kick into the left corner. He kicks this one dead. Bealham is penalised at scrum-time and the Stormers are into the Connacht half via the resultant penalty kick and lineout.


Stormers 17 Connacht 8 (28′) Connacht have been so sloppy since conceding the first try and now they’ve conceded another. Libbok gathers a smart Carty kick and then skips past two tackles to clear his lines. O’Halloran gathers and finds touch but the Stormers take a quick lineout and then Dan du Plessis makes ground and combines with Jantjies who sets up Libbok to score their second try. The man who started it all. He nails the conversion.


Stormers 10 Connacht 8 (24′) Libbok punishes his opposite number Carty who knocked on, before Connacht conceded a penalty for going offside.


Relief on Connacht faces. The Stormers look like scoring every time they go through some phases in the Connacht half. But the pass out wide goes over the head of Leolin Za when he had green grass in front of him.


Connacht’s lineout maul makes some ground but when they come out they are driven back by some big hits. Blade then hesitates and has the ball ripped from him. Good defence but really slack by Connacht.


Penalty awarded to Connacht on halfway as the Stormers come in from the side. Carty kicks into the 22...


Stormers 7 Connacht 8 (16′) Just like that. Some big carries by the Stormers and with a penalty advantage Manie Libbok then arrows a kick into the path of Angelo Davids who is all on his own to score. Libbok kicks the conversion and Connacht’s lead is now just one point.


Stormers 0 Connacht 8 (14′) The conversion from the sideline is dragged wide. But Connacht have really rattled the hosts here who are known for their own strong starts!


Prendergast picks and goes after a solid scrum. Connacht inch closer with Finlay Bealham making ground. Carty’s looping pass then sets up Mack Hansen in the corner who finishes brilliantly! TRY CONNACHT!!


Stormers 0 Connacht 3 (11′) Carty’s brilliant kick puts the hosts back in their own 22. Where they just about secure their own lineout ball but then knock on twice in a row in their own 22. Giving Connacht a scrum just five metres out..


Some scrappy play from both sides. Caolin Blade then kicks a smart ball over the Stormers which is chased down by young lock Niall Murray - another former Roscommon underage footballer - and he gets a foot to it. But Herschel Jantjies saves the day and the Stormers have a goal line-out drop which they force a turnover from.


Stormers 0 Connacht 3 (4′) The former Roscommon minor footballer nails the opening kick. He then gathers the restart and clears brilliantly beyond halfway.


A good opening lineout for Connacht and Carty gets on it and chips and chases. The Stormers initially do well before Dweba knocks on under little pressure. Connacht’s first scrum, like their first lineout, is good, and they win a penalty. Carty points to the posts.


Stormers 0 Connacht 0 (1′) GAME ON! Jack Carty kicks off and the Stormers gather in their own 22 and clear to the 10m line.


The thoughts and predictions there of our own John O’Sullivan, and Gordon D’Arcy ahead of today’s semi-finals!


Andy Friend: “We know it’s a big ask but we have big confidence in our side. Scrum and lineout should be a big contest and we are hoping for an edge there.”


Connacht captain Jack Carty prior to kick-off: “The Stormers play a very attritional game up front and have the backs to punish you. We are very focused on ourselves and know not many people are giving us a chance.

“We think if we play our game our way we can come out with a result. Last week gave us the confidence in a knock-out game.”


The Connacht team will line out as named during the week. No late changes


A week prior to the Champions Cup final, Leinster would have preferred to face anyone but Munster. When Munster and Leinster meet you can guarantee an emotionally driven physical confrontation.

—  Matt Williams

And Matt Williams’ column is below


We have seen time and time again how good the Leinster coaching team are at setting up a squad to perform, and we have also seen this starting to take root once again in Munster thanks to Rowntree, Mike Prendergast and Denis Leamy. No more so than any tussle between these two provinces, it should be a fascinating encounter.

—  Gordon D'Arcy

Check out Gordon D’Arcy’s weekly column below


A look back here at the two quarter-final wins...

Stormers 33 Bulls 21 - Connacht heading to Cape Town to face Stormers after champions tame the Bulls

Ulster 10 Connacht 15 - Fearless Connacht beat Ulster to reach URC semi-finals


Connacht have arrived. Just over an hour until kick-off!


Connacht team news

Connacht have selected an unchanged team from the side that beat Ulster last time out, with Andy Friend sticking with both the same starters and replacements to face the Stormers. No injuries were picked up in that win over Ulster.

Outhalf Jack Carty captains the side, while Jack Aungier will earn his 50th cap for the province if called upon from the bench.

Friend: “All bodies are fit and healthy and have fully recovered from the travel down here to Cape Town. We take on the defending champions in their own backyard, but these are the days you want to be involved in.

“Pete Wilkins and the other coaches have presented a very clever game plan, and with the confidence that’s in the squad at present, there’s genuine excitement about the challenge and opportunity.”


Last week was my first start in a knock-out game, which was huge for me. But I don’t want Saturday to be the last start of the season either. I want to push on and play in a final

—  Connacht scrumhalf Caolin Blade

Check out that piece in full below..



Beating last year’s champions on a home pitch that frankly looks to be in poor condition against a side that has X-factor players like outhalf, Manie Libbok and fullback, Damian Willemse is fraught with danger.

Check out Johnny Watterson’s preview of Connacht’s semi-final here


United Rugby Championship semi-final: DHL Stormers v Connacht, Saturday, Cape Town Stadium, 3pm (Live on TG4, Premier Sports)

STORMERS: D Willemse; A Davids, R Nel, D du Plessis, L Zas; M Libbok, H Jantjies; S Kitshoff (capt), J Dweba, F Malherbe, B Dixon, R van Heerden, W Engelbrecht, H Dayimani, E Roos. Replacements: J Kotze, A Vermaak, N Fouche, C Evans, M Theunissen, P de Wet, J du Plessis, S Feinberg-Mngomezulu.

CONNACHT: T O’Halloran; J Porch, T Farrell, B Aki, M Hansen; J Carty (capt), C Blade; D Buckley, D Heffernan, F Bealham, J Murphy, N Murray, S Hurley-Langton, C Oliver, C Prendergast. Replacements: D Tierney-Martin, J Duggan, J Aungier, O Dowling, J Butler, K Marmion, T Daly, B Ralston.

Referee: M Adamson (SRU)


Hello and welcome ... Three of the four teams contesting this afternoon’s URC semi-finals are Irish as Connacht, Leinster and Munster all play for a place in the final on May 27th. Another reflection of the strength of Irish rugby at present!

First up Connacht are in action in South Africa against defending champions the Stormers, and just two wins away from replicating their 2016 Pro12 fairytale. Before Leinster host Munster at the Aviva, in what Gerry Thornley describes as the biggest domestic rivalry in world rugby.

Kick-off at the Cape Town Stadium is at 3pm, while the action at the Aviva is underway at 5.30pm.

We’ll keep you up to date with all the build-up, and action as it unfolds in both. Keep in touch via the comments section or on Twitter (@DonoghueEamon) but for now, let’s get started!