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Cronin and van der Flier lead Leinster past Munster

Cronin and van der Flier lead Leinster past Munster

Sean Cronin crossed for a try while Josh van der Flier produced a man of the match display on his first game back from injury in Leinster’s Guinness PRO14 semi-final win over Munster.

Leinster were looking to bounce back after last weekend’s Champions Cup final defeat to Saracens, and they defended home turf at the RDS against fierce provincial rivals Munster.

Everywhere you looked on Saturday there were intriguing match-ups for Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt to ponder.

The back row was an area of real interest heading into the game with CJ Stander named at openside for Munster against van der Flier – both of whom missed plenty of action for Ireland in the 2019 Guinness Six Nations through injury.

And it was van der Flier – with Sean O’Brien out injured – who produced the stand-out performance with tackles and turnovers all afternoon long.

It was a fierce encounter in the first half with Ross Byrne – preferred to Jonathan Sexton at fly-half – kicking three penalties to put Leinster 9-6 up at the break.

And in the second half the defending league champions turned on the style and Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong did their best impressions of back to put their front row teammate Cronin over in the right corner for the game’s first try.

Joey Carbery continued his unerring recent record from the kicking tee for Munster who trailed 19-9 heading into the final quarter.

But when James Lowe went over, after Sexton’s immediate impact in the second half from the bench, Leinster could celebrate victory and a return to the Guinness PRO14 final.

Next weekend they will face Glasgow Warriors at Celtic Park as they look to defend their crown, but this was a fine send-off at the RDS.