Friday 23 February 2018

Johnston on fire as Munster take Schools Interpro title

U-18 Schools Interprovincial Championship

Captain Bill Johnston is presented with the cup by Greg Barrett of the IRFU Committee after Munster's victory over Leinster in the Under-18 Schools Interprovincial Championship in Cork. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
Captain Bill Johnston is presented with the cup by Greg Barrett of the IRFU Committee after Munster's victory over Leinster in the Under-18 Schools Interprovincial Championship in Cork. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

Munster finally broke more than a decade-long Leinster stranglehold on the U-18 Schools Interprovincial Championship at CBC Cork's grounds on Saturday.

This was a winner-takes-all encounter as Munster had easily accounted for Connacht (24-3) and Ulster (22-7), while Leinster had drawn 17-17 with Ulster to set up what was, in effect, a title decider.

Munster's victory was built on a steely defence and the game management of their astute fly-half Bill Johnston, who contributed 14 points in the 19-10 victory.

The back-row of Jack O'Sullivan, Bailey Faloon and John Foley was ferocious on the floor as Johnston slotted three penalties before wing Billy O'Hora touched down the corner after an excellent multi-phase move.

Johnston was spot on with the conversion and he kicked a fourth penalty right on half-time to make it 19-0, as their scrum, fronted by Joey Conway, Mark O'Mara and James Kendrick, held an edge against a fundamentally sound Leinster line-out working well at the end of hooker Conor Johnson's throw.

A difficult proposition for Leinster was turned into a near impossibility when wing Tim Carroll was red-carded for taking full-back Colm Hogan out in the air in what was a debatable decision in the 48th minute.

This did not prevent the holders from storming back into the game, though, with tries from Jordan Larmour and scrum-half Dave Duggan.

However, the fact Leinster used up three different goal-kickers tells their story of missed chances.

The Leinster U-18 Clubs were in no mood to relinquish their interprovincial crown in another title decider between unbeaten provinces, coming out 25-6 masters over Munster at Waterpark RFC, also on Saturday.

They notched up their seventh straight championship with a three tries-to-nil domination, founded on a pack at the back of which scrum-half Daragh Sweeney sniped for the first try and lock Jack Regan burst over for the second.

Munster fly-half Liam Coombes did strike his second penalty to keep the visitors in sight in the 43rd minute and followed it with a period of pressure before Leinster broke away for Sean O'Brien to kick three points, leaving gliding full-back Conor Nash to seal it with a superb individual try.

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