CHEERS JOHNNY; PRO 14 RUGBY; It's child's play for Sexton as he helps Blues beat old rivals and becomes their record points scorer ever.
Byline: MICHAEL SCULLY
JOHNNY SEXTON broke Leinster's alltime points record as the Blues limbered up for Champions Cup action with a narrow home win over their old rivals.
Sexton's 44th minute penalty did the trick after two first-half try conversions as the 32-year-old Dubliner moved ahead of Felipe Contepomi's old 1,125 points mark in front of an Aviva Stadium attendance of 46,374.
With Leinster at home to Montpellier and Munster away to Castres next week as European competition kicks off, both provinces will be happy with the entertaining clash.
Munster's backline, boasting three out-halves in JJ Hanrahan, Tyler Bleyendaal and Ian Keatley showed early intent.
And the visitors thought they had drawn first blood when Earls sidestepped his way over the try line in the 13th minute.
Chris Farrell's pass looked forward and, much to skipper Sexton's annoyance, ref Ben Whitehouse waited until Keatley, who retained the no 10 role, lined up the conversion before disallowing the try as the move was replayed on the big screen.
Leinster responded by opening the scoring themselves, with O'Loughlin doing the heavy lifting himself.
The centre all too easily spun past John Ryan and while CJ Stander tackled him before the line, O'Loughlin twisted his way over. Sexton added the conversion.
It appeared that it was about get worse for the Reds when, in the 21st minute, Niall Scannell was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on.
The hos looked to push the dagger in further but as they advanced into Munster's 22, the ball spun loose.
Farrell fed Earls, who could see a clear path to the Leinster posts from his own 10 metre line until a superb try-saving tackle by Joey Carbery denied him.
Yet the Blues were caught out for an interception try on 27 minutes when Sexton tried to find Robbie Henshaw on Leinster's 10 metre line, only the returning Lion to fumble.
Leinst Keatley took full advantage to score under the posts and add the conversion. Nevertheless Leinster restored their seven-point lead five minutes from the interval. Sexton launched a garryowen in Earl's direction for the third time and, with Adam Byrne competing, the ball came back on the hosts' side.
Moments later Tadhg Furlong was facilitating a trademark Sexton loop and, with space opening up on the left, Carbery unselfishly fed O'Loughlin for his second try, with Sexton converting.
He extended the lead to 10 points soon after the restart to secure the record, the penalty coming from Farrell's high tackle on Carbery.
But Munster struck back in the 47th minute as Tommy O'Donnell spotted Earls who just touched down in the corner despite Byrne's attentions.
Another quick Leinster response saw them earn a scrum penalty and one at the breakdown, both nailed by Sexton.
Just as importantly, the Blues pack withstood fierce lineout maul pressure from their opponents around the hour mark as Hanrahan took over from Keatley at out-half.
Earls (inset) did get in for an 89th minute try and that was enough for the bonus point, despite the tough conversion miss.
landmark occassion Johnny Sexton with his son Luca after the win over Munster yesterday
what a player Johnny Sexton kicks the record point
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|Publication:||Sunday Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Oct 8, 2017|
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