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Leinster Sneak Past Munster in Close Encounter

Leinster have continued their perfect record at the start of the season at their biggest rivals Munster

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(Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster have defeated Munster 13-6 in a narrow game at Thomond Park this evening to continue their perfect start to the season.

The result means that the boys in blue have made it 13 wins from 13 at the start of the season, with prop Ed Byrne’s early try proving vital in the end. 

Munster started well, dominating possession early on, but failed to make it out of their own half and it proved costly as Leinster struck in the 10th minute. 

Following a line-out the away side went through the hands before being held up narrowly before the try-line. However, they went over within seconds as prop Ed Bryne barrelled over from close-range. Ross Byrne added the extras to give the boys in blue a 7-0 lead. 

Leinster extended their advantage on 23 minutes as Ross Byrne slotted over an easy penalty from inside the Munster 22 to stretch the lead to 10-0 despite the home side having more of the ball. 

He Leinster fly-half notched them further ahead with just over five minutes remaining in the half from another penalty as Scott Fardy was interfered with in the air from a line-out with the kick making it 13-0 on the scoreboard. 

However, the home team had the final say in the first-half with JJ Hanrahan knocking over a penalty inside the opposition 22 to cut the deficit at half-time to 13-3. 

That score at the end of the opening period appeared to rally the men in red as they came flying out of the blocks at the start of the second-half and were rewarded with three-points from the boot of Hanrahan, who once again made ease of a penalty kick. 

Munster dominated both possession and territory for the majority of the half and in the final 20 minutes they camped in the Leinster 22 in search of a score, but the away side were solid in defence and held out. 

The home team couldn’t find a way through as Leinster edged the game 13-6. 

As mentioned above Leinster have made it 13 wins in a row at the start of the season, with nine wins from nine in the PRO14 as they remain top of Conference A. 

Next up for Leinster is the visit of Connacht to the RDS as they hope to continue their winning streak next Saturday, while Munster head to Ulster the day before, where they will look to bounce-back from this loss. 

Player Ratings

Starting XV:

Hugo Keenan (6), Adam Byrne (6), Jimmy O’Brien (7), Conor O’Brien (7), James Lowe (7), Ross Byrne (8), Rowan Osborne (7); Ed Byrne (7), James Tracy (6), Andrew Porter (7), Devin Toner (7), Scott Fardy (7), Josh Murphy (7), Will Connors (8), Caelan Doris (8)

Replacements (7)

Pro14

Munster confirm Zebo signing

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to announce that Simon Zebo has signed a one-year contract to return to play with the province for the 2021/22 season.

This co-funded contract will see Munster’s all-time record try-scorer return from Racing 92 and line out for his home club where he made 144 appearances and scored 60 tries between 2010 and 2018.

In his third season with the Top 14 side, the 31-year-old has played 55 times and scored 21 tries to date.

Head Coach Johann van Graan said, “The opportunity to bring Simon back to Munster came about in early April following a final review of our squad’s budgetary position for season-end and with assistance from the IRFU to support what we believe is a really good deal for Munster and Irish Rugby.

“Simon’s desire to return to Ireland and play with his home club is illustrated by his willingness to sign at a level below his market value elsewhere. This has made bringing the province’s all-time leading try-scorer back home, possible.”

Simon Zebo said, “I am thrilled and honoured to be coming back home to play for Munster. My family and I have been so lucky to have enjoyed three incredible years with Racing 92 in Paris and I cannot thank the team there enough, I really have made friends for life and take with me some brilliant memories.

“However, as everyone knows, Munster holds a very special place in my heart and I’ve always said that I wanted to play for them and potentially Ireland again, so when this opportunity arose the lure of being close to home, family and friends and Munster fans, it outweighed all other options. I cannot wait to get back to the HPC with the team and hopefully a packed Thomond Park.”

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Pro14

Ulster Rugby agree to release Coetzee early

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Marcell Coetzee has played his last game for Ulster Rugby.

With back-row, Marcell Coetzee, currently side-lined with a hamstring injury, Ulster Rugby has agreed terms which will see the player released from the club at the end of this month, ahead of his planned departure at the conclusion of the 2020/21 season.

Given the need for several weeks of rehabilitation following the injury sustained by Coetzee in last month’s Guinness PRO14 fixture against Leinster, Ulster Rugby and the player have reached a mutual agreement to part ways on Friday 30 April.

Head of Rugby Operations and Recruitment, Bryn Cunningham, said: “We have come to an agreement that will allow Marcell the time and space required to continue his rehab.

“I’d like to thank Marcell for his contribution to the province over the past five years and we wish him and wife, Chanelle the very best for their upcoming return home to South Africa.”

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Pro14

Lowry retained at 10 for Ulster v Zebre

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ulster coaching team has named the match-day squad to host Zebre in tomorrow night’s final Guinness PRO14 regular season game (Kingspan Stadium, 8.15pm).

21-year-old, Cormac Izuchukwu will make his first start for the Ulster men as he is named in the second row alongside Kieran Treadwell. Marty Moore comes back into the starting front row at tighthead, with Eric O’Sullivan and John Andrew retaining their starting berths at loosehead and hooker. Jordi Murphy will captain the side at openside flanker, with Sean Reidy and David McCann being retained at blindside and Number Eight.

A youthful back line sees Ethan McIlroy coming into the  back three at full-back, with Rob Lyttle on the left wing and Robert Baloucoune returning on the right. Stewart Moore and James Hume will make up the midfield pairing, while John Cooney and Michael Lowry are named at half-back.

Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor and Matty Rea are the forward reinforcements, with David Shanahan, Ian Madigan and Ben Moxham providing the back line options on the bench.

Ulster team to play Zebre Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 16, Friday 19 March at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 8.15pm, live on Premier Sports / eir Sport):

(15-9) Ethan McIlroy, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle, Michael Lowry, John Cooney;

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, John Andrew, Marty Moore, Cormac Izuchukwu, Kieran Treadwell, Sean Reidy, Jordy Murphy (Capt.), David McCann.

Replacements: Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Matty Rea, David Shanahan, Ian Madigan, Ben Moxham.

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