What a performance! It was men against boys at Musgrave Park on Sunday as Munster conjured up a five-try 33-9 defeat of Leinster to menacingly move back to the Celtic League's summit.
CELTIC LEAGUE: Sunday, October 9
Munster 33 Leinster 9, Musgrave Park (Att: 7,500)
Scorers: Munster: Tries: Marcus Horan, Mick O'Driscoll, Denis Leamy, John Kelly, Ronan O'Gara; Cons: O'Gara 4
Leinster: Pens: Felipe Contepomi 3
It was the perfect preparation for Munster ahead of their Heineken Cup opener away to Sale on Friday week as tries from Marcus Horan, Mick O'Driscoll, Denis Leamy, John Kelly and Ronan O'Gara saw Leinster's defence ruthlessly exposed.
Three penalties goals from captain Felipe Contepomi helped the visitors into a 9-5 half-time lead, but Munster owned the ball in the second half, running in four tries with each of them converted by O'Gara.
O'Gara, kicking initially without a tee, booted an early chance to the right and the league's top points scorer Contepomi was also wide with a punched effort on 20 minutes.
Some early snipes from Munster scrum half Tomas O'Leary showed the youngster had no fears on what was only his second senior cap for the province.
With a stiffening breeze behind him, Contepomi did land successive penalties for the lead on 19, 23 and 29 minutes - the highlight of which was his arched second shot from the halfway line.
Alan Quinlan had been the offender for Contepomi's third kick but the Munster flanker redeemed himself on the half-hour when his snappy left wing break laid the platform for prop Horan's try.
O'Gara took play up through the middle, scattering the Leinster defence and quick hands from Gary Connolly, Kelly and Barry Murphy put Horan sliding at the right corner under Denis Hickie's tackle.
Although O'Gara scuffed the conversion, Horan's second try in eight days still had a galvanising effect on the home side.
A missed penalty attempt from Contepomi kept Munster four points down at the interval and Leinster prop Reggie Corrigan's injury-time sin-binning, awarded for a knee drop on his opposite number Federico Pucciariello, certainly changed the game's course.
With a man advantage, Munster made Leinster pay for a sleepy start to the second half with two tries in the opening six minutes. The influential Quinlan stole a lineout in the home 22 and his kick ahead launched a furious attack. Munster managed a turnover and from a close-in ruck, lock O'Driscoll plunged over with a little help from the tireless Quinlan.
Munster were 19-9 up three minutes later when a loose pass from Christian Warner was seized upon in the Leinster 22 and O'Gara scooped out a long pass for Leamy to go in behind the posts.
It was all Munster at this stage and despite starting with eight Ireland internationals, including three of their 2005 Lions, Michael Cheika's Leinster side simply had no answer to Munster's swarming attack.
Kelly, set up by O'Leary, showed a devastating turn of pace to step off his right and easily beat Leinster's new kid on the block Robert Kearney on 65 minutes for his try. Kelly's effort was the icing on the cake as the bonus point was racked up still with a quarter-of-an-hour left.
A left wing ruck saw the Leinster defence pulled apart again, seven minutes later, and Shaun Payne delivered a neat pass for O'Gara to race in behind the posts for try number five. The Munster and Ireland number 10 converted for good measure and apart from a Kearney break at the death, Leinster were resignede to seeing out the final minutes in their own half.
Munster's win sees them move a point clear of Ulster and Edinburgh at the top of the standings. Leinster will hope to get their new era at the RDS off to a good start next Saturday as they welcome the Cardiff Blues to the home of the Dublin Horse Show.
A win would be ideal for Cheika's men with Europe just around the corner.
MUNSTER: Shaun Payne; John Kelly, Gary Connolly, Barry Murphy, Anton Pitout; Ronan O'Gara, Tomas O'Leary; Marcus Horan, Frank Sheahan, Federico Pucciariello, Donncha O'Callaghan, Mick O'Driscoll, Alan Quinlan, Denis Leamy, Anthony Foley (Capt).
Replacements used: Ian Dowling for Pitout (66 mins), David Wallace for Foley (68), Jerry Flannery for Sheahan, Trevor Hogan for O'Callaghan (both 75), Paul Burke for O'Gara (76), Frank Roche for Pucciariello (80). Not used: Frank Murphy.
LEINSTER: Girvan Dempsey; Denis Hickie, Gordon D'Arcy, Felipe Contepomi (Capt), Shane Horgan; Christian Warner, Brian O'Meara; Reggie Corrigan, Bernard Jackman, Will Green, Ben Gissing, Bryce Williams, Eric Miller, Keith Gleeson, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements used: Brian O'Riordan for O'Meara (8-15 mins), David Blaney for Jackman (15), Ciaran Potts for Miller (half-time), Ronan McCormack for Heaslip (42-48), Robert Kearney for Warner (56), O'Riordan for O'Meara (62), Kieran Lewis for D'Arcy (74), McCormack for Corrigan, Des Dillon for Williams (both 80+2).
HT: Munster 5 Leinster 9; Sin-bin: Reggie Corrigan (Leinster) (40+2 mins)
Referee: Simon McDowell (IRFU)