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Leinster overcome Munster in front of record crowd

Brian O’Driscoll broke through for the decisive try as Leinster secured their fifth straight win over Munster and ended their arch rivals’ unbeaten start to the season.

The first senior match to take place at Irish rugby's resplendent new home, the Aviva Stadium, was a straight shootout between the place-kickers, until O'Driscoll shunted Leinster ahead in the 70th minute.

Ronan O'Gara and Isa Nacewa struck a penalty apiece during a finely-balanced first half, before a brace from the Munster out-half had the visitors 9-6 ahead.

But Leinster dominated the closing stages and a slick offload from Sean O'Brien sent O'Driscoll scampering over to effectively get Leinster's season back on track.

Three defeats in four Magners League games had put new Leinster coach Joe Schmidt under immediate pressure, and the visit of Munster to Dublin, with a 100% start behind them, spelled trouble.

A geed-up Munster won the early collisions, and a quick turnover led to a fourth minute penalty which O'Gara converted from inside the 22.

New Zealand centres Lifeimi Mafi and Sam Tuitupou laid down a marker with some purposeful runs, but Leinster's defence stood up to the visitors' opening barrage and an O'Gara drop goal was charged down by O'Brien.

Some solid lineout work by Devin Toner and a midfield bust from Dominic Ryan helped Leinster get on the front foot and Nacewa, having missed his first shot at the posts, conjured up the game's first real line-break.

He took advantage of a slip from Tuitupou to thunder into the Munster 22, with Gordon D'Arcy and Ryan in support. Munster scrambled back to cut off the options, eventually coughing up a penalty which Nacewa landed from in front of the posts.

It was nip and tuck for the remainder of the half, with the midfield suffocated and both sides guilty of losing their discipline at the breakdown.

Johne Murphy threatened out on the left wing for Munster, the ball just beating him to touch after he had hacked on a clever chip through from Tomas O'Leary. O'Gara also missed a left-sided penalty as the half closed with the sides level at 3-3.

Rob Kearney tried his luck from a long range penalty, drawing it to the right and wide, and was then the victim of a dangerous tackle from Mafi, who earned time in the sin-bin for his high-armed attempt.

With O'Leary and Denis Leamy leading the charge, 14-man Munster responded strongly and O'Gara punted them back in front, punishing D'Arcy for a ruck offence.

A trademark run and offload from O'Driscoll sent O'Brien storming towards the Munster line, with Richardt Strauss following up on a secondary drive. The purple patch yielded a penalty which Nacewa slotted over for 6-6.

Hands in the ruck from Strauss spoiled that good work and O'Gara effortlessly stroked over his third successful penalty, with just over 20 minutes remaining.

The game was there for the taking and Schmidt's side stepped up to the mark, pinning Munster back as they began to make better use of possession. O'Leary had to put a try-saving tackle in on Luke Fitzgerald after a jinking run from Kearney.

Tuitupou put in some earth-shuddering tackles, but O'Driscoll was beginning to find more space as the men in red tired.

With time running out, a chink in Munster's armour was found on the right wing where the impressive O'Brien burst past Paul Warwick and threw a backhanded pass out of the tackle for the supporting O'Driscoll to raid in from the right.

Nacewa added the extras and the four-point gap was enough to see Leinster complete their first five in-a-row over Munster since the 1930s.

Leinster and Munster shared another piece of history as the match was watched by a Magners League record crowd of 50,645, eclipsing the previous best of 48,000 which was set at the Leinster v Ulster game at the old Lansdowne Road in December 2006.

Thanks to their losing bonus point, Munster held onto top spot in the Magners League table as thoughts turn to the start of European competition next week.

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