With Munster Rugby hosting Leinster Rugby in a re-arranged Guinness PRO14 game on Saturday, we look back at the two occasions, both semi-finals, that they have met in the Heineken Champions Cup, which led to the winners eventually lifting the famous trophy for the first time.
2006: Leinster 6 Munster 30
Munster stormed into their third Heineken Cup final by eventually overpowering Leinster at a packed Lansdowne Road in Dublin, dominating from start to finish.
Ahead from the second minute, via the first of Ronan O’Gara’s three penalties, they never looked back, scoring tries through Denis Leamy, O’Gara and Trevor Halstead, all of which O’Gara converted to book a final date with Biarritz Olympique, whom they beat 23-19.
It took Munster only nine minutes to breach Leinster’s defences, Leamy driving over the Leinster line after man-of-the-match Paul O’Connell had executed a clean take at a line-out.
However, they had to wait until the last three minutes to score their other two tries, O’Gara spotting a gap to cross unopposed on 77 minutes, before Halstead grabbed a last-minute interception try from his own half.
All Leinster had to show for their efforts were two penalties from Felipe Contepomi, one in each half.
2009: Leinster 25 Munster 6
Leinster exacted sweet revenge for their 2006 Heineken Cup semi-final mauling by Munster, scoring three tries without reply against the holders in front of a world-record attendance for a club match of 82,208 at Dublin’s Croke Park.
The semi-final looked as if it was going to be a tight affair at the interval, with Gordon D’Arcy’s try edging Leinster 11-6 in front, but Luke Fitzgerald’s score lifted Leinster clear and Brian O’Driscoll’s breakaway effort sealed a final against Leicester Tigers, whom they defeated 19-16.
Felipe Contepomi opened the scoring with a 16th-minute drop-goal, but Ronan O’Gara cancelled that out with the first of his two penalties and Munster seemed set to take control when Contepomi limped off.
However, Johnny Sexton proved a more than adequate replacement, quickly knocking over a penalty, before D’Arcy rounded off a superb 31st-minute break from Isa Nacewa.
Nacewa was again the mastermind of Leinster’s second try on 44 minutes, opening up space for Fitzgerald to power through Paul Warwick’s tackle, but O’Driscoll’s 61st-minute score was a superb solo intercept effort from 70m. Sexton converted both.