Monday 22 July 2019

Fly-half Johnny Sexton sets new all-time points-scoring record for Leinster

Johnny Sexton set a new Leinster points-scoring record in the 23-17 Guinness PRO14 victory over Munster at the Aviva Stadium.

Rory O'Loughlin's well-taken brace of tries had the hosts leading 14-7 at half-time, sandwiching an intercept score from Munster fly-half Ian Keatley.

An early second half penalty saw Sexton eclipse Felipe Contepomi's 1,225 points to become Leinster's record scorer, before the returning Keith Earls finished off a Tommy O'Donnell-inspired try for resilient Munster.

Two more penalties from man-of-the-match Sexton - taking his provincial career haul to 1,234 - sent the blue-clad hordes in the 46,374-strong crowd home happy, albeit that Earls' 78th-minute try bagged the reds a bonus point.

Both provinces were looking for a momentum-building performance heading into Europe next week, with Robbie Henshaw returning from the torn pectoral muscle which ended his Lions tour, and Earls making his seasonal debut.

Wingers Andrew Conway and Adam Byrne were both prominent in a fast-paced opening 10 minutes, the latter showing his aerial ability from Sexton's cross-field kicks.

Television match official Jon Mason ruled out what would have been an excellent solo try from Earls - Chris Farrell's long pass was adjudged forward - but Leinster were on the board soon after.

Off solid possession in the visitors' 22, centre O'Loughlin spun out of John Ryan's attempted tackle and produced an excellent finish under pressure from CJ Stander and Robin Copeland. Sexton converted from straight in front.

Leinster failed to score during Niall Scannell's sin-bin period, the Munster hooker seeing yellow for a deliberate knock-on, and Keatley punished them, swooping on a Sexton pass, which Henshaw could only get his fingertips to, as he raided in under the posts for the levelling seven-pointer.

Joey Carbery had made a vital tackle on Earls before that and the young full-back provided the assist for O'Loughlin's second try at the end of 25 exhaustive phases. Byrne beat Earls to a couple of searching kicks, Munster hanging on until Carbery injected pace - following a Sexton-Tadhg Furlong wraparound - to send O'Loughlin over from the left wing.

Keatley had to come to Munster's rescue on the resumption, Barry Daly threatening from a grubber kick before a Farrell high tackle allowed Sexton to make it 17-7.

With some deft Leinster handling and Jack Conan breaking their defensive line, Munster needed a big response and they got it with flanker O'Donnell's terrific break from his own 22, his well-timed pass sending Earls over in the left corner past Byrne's last-ditch tackle.

Munster full-back JJ Hanrahan missed the difficult conversion and Sexton quickly snatched back control, knocking over successive penalties to reward the home scrum and Josh van der Flier's breakdown work.

The Munster forwards were then thwarted from a couple of gilt-edged maul opportunities, with Hanrahan needing to react swiftly at the other end to deny Daly a try from Jamison Gibson-Park's grubber.

Munster were disjointed at times, bringing back bad memories of their last two Dublin defeats to Saracens and the Scarlets, but they took home a point after good work off a lineout and quick transfers from Farrell and Conway allowed Earls to complete his brace in the corner.

PA Media

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