Leinster edge all-Irish battle to move closer to historic double

Leinster are now just one victory away from an historic double and Jordi Murphy believes the fact they are so close to their goal is a testament to the depth of their squad.

Leinster are now just one victory away from an historic double and Jordi Murphy believes the fact they are so close to their goal is a testament to the depth of their squad.

A dramatic Guinness PRO14 semi-final on Saturday saw them edge past old rivals Munster 16-15 at the RDS Arena to book a spot in the final against Scarlets next weekend.

Victory at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday would see them win a domestic and European double for the first time in their history, after beating Racing 92 to lift the Champions Cup seven days ago.

They made six personnel changes for this clash and Jack Conan’s early try, following James Lowe’s scintillating break, set Leinster on their way.

The boots of Ross Byrne and Joey Carbery kept them ahead but Keith Earls’ score in the corner and Gerbrandt Grobler’s 78th-minute try brought Munster within a point.

They then worked their way into Leinster territory as the clock turned red but a final defensive stand and turnover form Max Deegan saw the hosts over the line.

And Murphy admits he has been through the full gamut of emotions in the last week following a rollercoaster season which also saw him help Ireland to a 2018 NatWest 6 Nations Grand Slam. “It’s a bit of everything,” said Murphy when asked how he was feeling after the victory. “After last week we knew it was going to be a very tough game.

“But playing a team like Munster at home in the RDS, it doesn’t take much to get up for it. It was a very physical game but we’re feeling it now.

“I think this group has serious belief. We didn’t want to go from such an extreme high last week, to the low of losing to Munster at home.

“We knew all week we would have to dig deep and it was great to see the boys do it at the end.

“I always aim very high and we’ve got such a strong squad that we’ve put ourselves in a position to win two trophies – hopefully that is what we’re on our way to doing.

“If we’re honest with ourselves, our aim all year has been to win two trophies. We came up short last year by dropping out in the semi-final stages of both competitions and we took plenty of learnings from that.

“It was a bit of a mixed week with last weekend and not great preparation leading into this one but we have great belief in our squad and if we can create a good gameplan for Scarlets on Monday, then we’re in with a good chance.”

Munster came agonisingly close to winning their maiden away semi-final in the competition at the fourth attempt but their wait for a first piece of silverware since 2011 goes on.

And skipper Peter O’Mahony was left to rue some individual errors after seeing many of his Ireland team-mates find success in a Leinster jersey.

“Fair play to Leinster, I thought they were very good,” said O’Mahony. “We left a couple of opportunities out there but their defence was very good and their discipline was excellent. It’s a hard one to take.

“There were definitely moments where we weren’t accurate and our detail wasn’t good enough. Our passing wasn’t good enough and our skill play was poor at times.

“The boys fought really well though – to go eight points down, score a try and regain the ball quickly to give us a chance shows the pride we played with.

“That’s important because you can correct some of the other stuff but if you’re only walking out of the gate, you’ve got a problem.

“It’s going to take more from us to get back to reaching finals. You see the standard Leinster are setting in Europe and in this competition. It’s going to take that bit more from us.”