LEINSTER picked up their first win of the Junior Interprovincial Championship when they beat defending champions Connacht 22-10 in Longford Rugby Club last Saturday, while Munster recorded a priceless 29-9 bonus-point win in Coleraine Rugby Club against Ulster.
The southern province now have opened up a three-point advantage at the top after a pair of victories and with one series of games remaining they are well positioned to win back the crown they last won in 2007.
In the intervening years, Leinster have won three titles in succession prior to Connacht's current run of back-to-back successes; so tomorrow at Ballinasloe Rugby Club Munster will endeavour to bridge that six-year gap with victory against their western hosts.
Leinster on the other hand will be hoping that they can overcome Ulster when they entertain their northern visitors at Wicklow Rugby Club tomorrow and if Munster slip up, then the winners in 2008, 2009 and 2010 will be poised to triumph again.
Leinster started brightly last weekend against Connacht with centre Matt Sanderson of IT Carlow touching down for the opening try inside the first five minutes.
But in a disjointed performance where the good was mixed with the bad, they managed to trail as half time loomed before winger Ross Doyle of Portarlington struck for a try to edge the hosts 12-10 in front at the break.
Although they enjoyed the lion's share of possession in the second half, Leinster struggled to breach the Connacht goal line (including amazingly while they enjoyed a two-man advantage after a double sin-binning) and had to wait until 15 minutes from time before open-side flanker Ben Horan of Gorey touched down for his side's third try.
But, despite plenty of oomph, Leinster failed to register the fourth try that would have yielded the precious bonus point, a point that might yet make all the difference in deciding the outcome of the championship.
After the narrow opening-day loss in Limerick, Leinster will be keen to finish with a win and hopefully a much-improved performance which, while it may not deliver the title, will at least keep the pressure on their Munster rivals.
After issuing seven new caps two weeks ago, a further five players made their Leinster debuts last weekend and they included Sanderson, Cathal Feighery (Tullamore), Clifford Richardson (Longford), Steve Connolly (Coolmine) and Conor Molloy (Tullamore).
Club rugby has all but finished for 2012-13 with Enniscorthy grabbing the last piece of provincial silverware when they won the Seconds Plate after beating Ashbourne 20-13 at Arklow Rugby Club while Wanderers J4s completed the Metro season with a 30-12 victory over De La Salle Palmerston in the Winters Cup final at a packed Kirwan Park on Tuesday.