|Pro14: Munster v Leinster|
|Munster (10) 10|
|Try: Beirne Con: Hanrahan Pen: Hanrahan|
|Leinster (6) 13|
|Try: Larmour Con: R Byrne Pens: Sexton 2|
Jordan Larmour's 69th minute try gave Leinster a hard-fought win over Munster in a tight inter-provincial derby.
Munster led for most of the contest with their sole try coming from Tadhg Beirne in the 12th minute.
Despite for long periods looking like they would be held out by a brilliant defensive effort, Leinster dug deep to grind out a win.
They are now a point behind Pro14 Conference A leaders Ulster with a game in hand.
Munster remain comfortably in command in Conference B with a 12-point lead at the top and two games in hand.
The Irish rivals could well meet again in March's final, and both sides will feel they possess all the necessary tools to topple the other, as illustrated by another contest decided on razor-thin margins in Limerick.
Varied Munster push rivals to the edge
When the sides met in last season's semi-final, Munster were criticised for a one-dimensional and ineffective box-kicking approach. On Saturday they frequently deployed the same tactic but to much greater effect, particularly in the early stages.
Conor Murray's probing kicks forced Larmour into three early knock-ons as light snow came down at Thomond Park, where the hosts began with purpose at a ferocious pace.
JJ Hanrahan's long-range penalty was followed by Beirne's try as the forward drove over the line with Rhys Marshall and CJ Stander adding their ballast to the shove.
Leinster, so used to dictating the terms of their Pro14 encounters, spent the opening 20 minutes on the back foot, making little headway into opposition territory.
However, as has become one of the hallmarks of Leo Cullen's side, a relentlessly reliable set-piece saw the tide begin to turn as mistakes crept into Munster's play.
After a Johnny Sexton penalty narrowed the gap to seven, Leinster enjoyed a long spell inside the 22 which looked certain to yield an equalising try until an outstanding Marshall turnover on his own line saw Munster hold firm.
The last act of the half saw a telling six-point swing, with Hanrahan's 40th minute penalty coming off the inside the post, allowing Leinster to recycle, win two penalties of their own and give Sexton the chance to reduce the arrears by three more points before the interval.
Leinster hold nerve to find answer
The story of the game looked certain to be the resolute defence of Munster who, led by Beirne and the relentless Damian de Allende, stood firm and forced Leinster into several aimless kicks with positive yards hard to come by.
Leinster's defence replied in kind, offering Munster few attacking platforms in their half - although the one penalty that was coughed up inside their own 22 went to waste as Hanrahan missed what should have been a regulation three points.
Another tryline stand ended with Beirne winning a monstrous turnover to the delight of his team-mates, but Leinster retained their composure as the time ticked away.
The breakthrough arrived 11 minutes from the end through a wonderfully executed set-piece move with Ross Byrne's grubber collected by Hugo Keenan, who popped up to Larmour to jink in.
Munster: Haley; Earls, Farrell, de Allende, Daly; Hanrahan, Murray; Cronin, Marshall, Ryan, Kleyn, Beirne; Coombes, O'Mahony (capt), Stander.
Replacements: N Scannell, Kilcoyne, Archer, F Wycherley, O'Donoghue, Casey, Healy, R Scannell.
Leinster: Keenan; Larmour, Ringrose, Henshaw, O'Brien; Sexton (capt), McGrath; Healy, Cronin, Porter, Fardy, Ryan; Ruddock, Connors, Doris.
Replacements: R Kelleher, E Byrne, Clarkson, Molony, Conan, Gibson-Park, R Byrne, van der Flier.
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