Like many a Munster fan, and probably some Leinster fans, I’m still in a little shock about this one. I was tempted to write nothing, but that would have been a little too bitter.
A world club rugby record attendance of 82,208 packed into Croker. I didn’t make it in the end, but by all accounts the atmosphere before the match was brilliant. I was in the Porterhouse North, accompanied by a table of 4 Munster, 2 Lunster fans and 1 Leinster fan. Atmosphere was good. We had a bunch of Leinster fans around us and there was a good bit of banter and shouting. At one point we thought one of them might hit us, but then Leinster were winning so I think he forgot about us!
The match was even enough for the first 15-20 minutes, as reflected on the scoreline. Keith Earls has a great break, facilitated by Mafi sucking in two defender, but couldn’t find a final pass to get over the line. It’s hard to pick a turning point, but as the match progressed, Leinster were the ones with the fire in their bellies. The counter rucking in particular was something that stood out for me. They were fighting for everything, playing like there was nothing to lose. And in truth there was.
Munster couldn’t have asked for more to go their way during the match. A first half sin binning. Contepomi going off injured. Fitzgerald joining him in the second half. Still, it didn’t matter. The unforced errors from Munster were numerous. During the match the tackle counts came on screen – I can’t remember the exact number but Leinster were nearly tripling that of Munster.
One of the only positives Munster can take from the match is the line out, in which they managed a few turn overs. But that’s it. A stand out moment for me was when Paul O’Connell went to catch a kick off, and knocked it on. O’Connell doesn’t do that. It was a clear sign. And the negatives aren’t even fully decided, as Alan Quinlan will have to wait to hear from the citing commisioner about his eye gauge on Leo Cullen. The Lions could lose another Munster man.
So credit where credit is due. Leinster were the better team on the day, they deserved to win, and win well they did. Leinster jerseys will be flying off the shelves as fans gear up for 23 May. Lunster turncoats will be changing sides, again, in the coming weeks. I will be cheering for BOD and the boys come Final day, as the whole country should be. I may even wear something blue. Maybe.