ROUND 2 -
LEINSTER U-20s 26 MUNSTER U-20s 12, Donnybrook
Scorers: Leinster U-20s: Tries: David Shanahan, Tom Farrell; Cons: Tom Daly, Liam Burke; Pens: Tom Daly 4
Munster U-20s: Pens: Brian Haugh 4
The Leinster Under-20 team ran out 14-point winners over Munster in front of a vocal crowd at Donnybrook on Friday night.
After falling to Ulster in the opening round, head coach Girvan Dempsey demanded a positive reaction from his young side and he got it as Leinster took their scoring chances in a clinical display of finishing.
The Munster U-20s had more possession and territory, particularly during a run of sin-binnings for the hosts, but the final killer pass was lacking and Leinster scrambled well when under pressure.
Early on Munster asked their centre Rory Scannell to make the hard yards through the middle. But the ball popped out of the ruck for Leinster lock Jerry Sexton to nimbly steal it on the floor.
In the scramble for possession, Munster conceded a penalty and centre Tom Daly, who kicked well all night, booted a 40-metre penalty for the lead in the 11th minute.
After another Munster effort, there was slick work down the left involving Max McFarland before fellow winger Eoghan Quinn made metres on the other side of the pitch. Another indiscretion at ruck time gave Daly the chance to make it 6-0 to Leinster.
It took a solid tackle by scrum half David Shanahan to halt second row John Madigan. However, the Munster scrum, an area of strength for them, powered forward to eventually set up a penalty for scrum half Brian Haugh to dispatch in the 25th minute.
Tom Farrell was not shy in taking the ball up for Leinster and his surge into a ruck was too tempting for a scatter of Munster defenders, who were judged to not roll away. Daly successfully split the posts with his third penalty.
Munster locks Madigan and Sean McCarthy, who popped some neat offloads, were causing problems around the fringes. Referee Stuart Gaffikin showed Sexton a yellow card for illegal work at a ruck and Haugh nailed his second shot on the half hour.
There was a flow to Munster's play - they were clearly growing in confidence - and they created an opening into the right corner only for Leinster captain Ed Byrne to arrive like a train and bundle hooker Will Foley into touch.
Munster put pressure on at the ensuing lineout. From turnover ball, they moved the ball left for winger Adrian Enright to come within inches of the first try of the match. When the dust settled, Leinster full-back Jack Fitzpatrick was singled out for not releasing and was promptly binned to leave them down to 13 men.
Somehow they survived a five-metre scrum with seven men, turning Munster through 90 degrees and the lively Shanahan cleared from the following one. This lifted the home side, Farrell haring up the left and Shanahan bringing his players onto the ball.
Munster winger Enright was then sin-binned for offside and Daly hit penalty number four to make it 12-6 for the interval.
Haugh was on target to reduce the deficit to 12-9 in the 43rd minute, and it was soon level when Daly was too slow to roll away at ruck time. The fare was fiercely competitive and had the spectators present gripped to the action.
Shanahan's sniper's instinct took over when he turned slow ball into the first try of the night in the 51st minute, weaving through on a smashing solo run to score to the right of the posts. Daly added the extras to put seven points between the sides at 19-12.
Munster captain John Fitzgerald became the fifth player to see yellow, on a busy night for the match officials, just as Daly mishit a kickable penalty in the 56th minute.
The loss of their skipper did not stop Munster from coming forward. Full-back Darren Sweetnam, a threatening runner from deep, was almost through on the right only for a timely interception from Dempsey's charges.
But, it was impressive centre Farrell who made the game safe, blocking a clearance kick and winning the race to touch down to the left of the posts. Replacement Liam Burke added a towering conversion to complete the scoring, with four minutes remaining.
LEINSTER U-20s: Jack Fitzpatrick (Dublin University); Max McFarland (Dublin University), Tom Farrell (Lansdowne), Tom Daly (Lansdowne), Eoghan Quinn (Lansdowne); Bobby Holland (UCD), David Shanahan (Clontarf); Ed Byrne (UCD) (capt), Bryan Byrne (UCD), Dan O'Byrne (Old Belvedere), Jerry Sexton (St. Mary's College), Gavin Thornbury (Dublin University), Dan Leavy (UCD), Josh van der Flier (UCD), Peadar Timmins (UCD).
Replacements used: Jamie Lawless (Old Belvedere) for O'Byrne (30 mins), Ken Murphy (Old Belvedere) for Lawless (half-time), Donagh Lawler (UCD) for Sexton (51), Rory O'Loughlin (St. Michael's College) for Quinn (67), Liam Burke (UCD) for Shanahan (71), Conor Kilcoyne (Blackrock College) for B Byrne (74), Jamie Glynn (UCD) for Holland (77), Conor Owende (Old Belvedere) for Thornbury (78).
Replacements used: Jamie Kind (Dolphin) for Madigan, Dave O'Connell (UCC) for Ryan (both 58 mins), Shane O'Leary (Young Munster) for Scannell, Max Abbott (PBC) for Foley (both 68), Cian O'Donnell (Cashel) for Horan (69), Ben Nugent (UCC) for Haugh (70), Dave Hartnett (Dolphin) for Scott (73), James McInerney (Garryowen) for Enright (77).
Referee: Stuart Gaffikin (IRFU)
CONNACHT U-20s 7 ULSTER U-20s 9, Dubarry Park
Scorers: Connacht U-20s: Try: Alex O'Meara; Con: Darragh Leader
Ulster U-20s: Pens: Stuart Olding 2; Drop: Stuart Olding
The kicking accuracy of Stuart Olding proved decisive at Dubarry Park as Ulster moved a step closer to being crowned the 2012/13 IRFU Under-20 Interprovincial champions.
Out-half Olding clipped over a drop goal with four minutes remaining to edge the visitors ahead, and then watched his opposite number Darragh Leader miss a difficult long range penalty at the other end.
The defeat, coming seven days after they lost to Munster, ends Connacht's reign as champions at this level. They achieved a famous Grand Slam, and a clean sweep of wins is in Ulster's sights as they head to Cork for their final game next week.
Olding fired over an 18th minute penalty but Ulster's lead lasted just three minutes. Exiles player Alex O'Meara did well to intercept a flat pass and break clear from halfway to score the only try of this round 2 encounter.
Leader converted for a 7-3 advantage but despite having a good deal of possession, Connacht were unable to add further scores before the break. Leader missed two penalty opportunities as the four-point buffer remained.
Ulster had the better of play in the third quarter and they were rewarded with three points from Olding just past the hour mark.
That set up an ultra competitive conclusion with both packs battling hard for every ball. It was tight right until the final whistle and Olding's drop goal proved to be the match-winning score, as Leader's last-gasp penalty fell inches wide.
Heading into the final round, Ulster top the table with eight points following their two victories. Leinster lead the chasing pack on four points, with their superior scoring difference putting them ahead of third-placed Munster with Connacht, who having two losing bonus points, on the bottom rung.
That means three teams are still in contention to become interpro champions, and bonus points could yet prove crucial.
Ulster are favourites to win out, but they face a tricky trip south to Cork where Greig Oliver's Munster side will be determined to finish with a flourish.
CONNACHT U-20s: Conor Joyce (Westport); Conor Fitzgibbon (Buccaneers), Mark Roche (Lansdowne), Ryan Casey (Naas), Alex O'Meara (Irish Exiles); Darragh Leader (Galwegians), Barry Digby (Buccaneers); Adam Boland (Lansdowne), Jason Connolly (Monivea), Jamie Dever (Corinthians), Sean O'Brien (Galwegians) (capt), Ultan Dillane (Corinthians), Aidan Connaughton (Buccaneers), Paul Maxwell (Buccaneers), James Connolly (IT Carlow).
Replacements used: Ross Keller (Ballinasloe) for Casey (half-time), Brian Teape (Buccaneers) for Dever (54 mins), David Heath (Galwegians) for Digby (74).
ULSTER U-20s: Rory Scholes (Belfast Harlequins); Ross Adair (Sullivan US), Ryan Martin (Northumbria University), Chris Farrell (Dungannon), David Busby (Portadown College); Stuart Olding (Belfast Harlequins), John Creighton Malone) (capt); Jake Caulfield (Irish Exiles), John Andrew (Ballymena), Chris Taylor (Malone), John Donnan (Ballynahinch), Matthew Rea (Ballymena Academy), Conor Joyce (Malone), Matthew Clarke (RS Armagh), Ben Alexander (RBAI).
Replacements used: Stuart Hooks (RS Armagh) for Clarke (32 mins), Grant Bartley (Ballyclare HS) for Rea (74).
Referee: Barrie O'Connell (IRFU)
ROUND 2 FIXTURES -
Friday, September 21:
CONNACHT U-20s v LEINSTER U-20s, the Sportsground, 3pm
MUNSTER U-20s v ULSTER U-20s, Musgrave Park, 7.30pm