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Page last updated at 20:25 GMT, Friday, 24 April 2009 21:25 UK

Munster 29-10 Scarlets

Munster (17) 29
Tries: Dowling, Wallace, Earls, Leamy. Cons: O'Gara 3. Pens: O'Gara.

Scarlets (3) 10
Tries: Roberts. Cons: S Jones. Pens: Priestland.

Tomas O'Leary is stretchered off

Video - Injured O'Leary is Lions tour doubt (UK users only)

Munster brushed aside the Scarlets to continue their Magners League title bid but their 29-10 win was marred by Tomas O'Leary's suspected broken left ankle.

The Ireland scrum-half was selected for the Lions tour but his dreams of facing South Africa could now be in tatters.

O'Leary went down in agony after being caught in a pile of bodies with just 10 minutes gone and was stretchered off, before being taken to hospital.

The injury to the 25-year-old will also hamper Munster's Heineken Cup bid.

At least Munster finished the match with one hand on the Magners League trophy, after recording the bonus-point win they craved through tries by Ian Dowling, David Wallace, Keith Earls and Denis Leamy.

Now with a 16-point lead at the top, they could even be crowned champions on Saturday night if the Ospreys fail to gather enough points in their home encounter with Edinburgh.

Rhys Priestland had an early chance to put Scarlets into the lead against Munster, but the young fly-half drifted his penalty kick across the face of the posts.

The Irish found a swift response as Doug Howlett broke away down the blindside wing and O'Leary spun the ball wide for Dowling to cross after six minutes.

It's disappointing [for Tomos O'Leary], poor guy, he's been fantastic this season and I believe he's fractured his ankle and it's a sad loss

Scarlets fly-half Stephen Jones

Ronan O'Gara converted and six minutes later added a penalty to pass 500 points in the Magners League. Between those kicks Priestland had added his own three-pointer for the Scarlets, but most eyes on that 10-minute mark had been drawn to the plight of O'Leary.

The scrum-half had put his body on the line trying to halt the advance of a pod of Scarlets forwards, but in the process pulled a pile of bodies on top of himself.

His leg twisted awkwardly and O'Leary's agony was clear to see, as the medical staff raced onto the field with a stretcher to tend to the stricken player.

Peter Stringer replaced O'Leary at scrum-half and it seems it will be his task to try and shepherd Munster through to another Heineken Cup final.

There is also the possibility that - should O'Leary's injury prove as serious as feared - Stringer may be the one to fill his place in the Lions roster.

Scotland skipper Mike Blair, Wales' 2005 Lions Test number nine Dwayne Peel and England's Danny Care are the other leading candidates to join Harry Ellis and Mike Phillips in South Africa.

Munster took time to settle back into their game, but were still dominant at scrum, line-out and the breakdown.

It took until just over the half-hour mark for the Irish to cross the Scarlets line again but it was well worth waiting for.

O'Gara switched the play right to the blind-side and hooker Jerry Flannery produced a flashy reverse pass to send Marcus Horan to within inches of the line.

From that range the result was inevitable and it was flanker Wallace who crashed over for another seven points, one Lion at least enjoying his evening at Musgrave Park.

A quick tap-penalty by Scarlets scrum-half Martin Roberts - a bright spark in a dark season for the Llanelli-based Welsh region - drew Earls into an ill-considered attempt to kill the ball at the breakdown.


Referee Neil Paterson brandished the yellow card at the centre but Scarlets were unable to take advantage and still trailed 17-3 at half-time.

Roberts gave Scarlets hope with the first score of the second period, in support to go over after a flowing move started by full-back Daniel Evans.

Stephen Jones - one of two Lions on the Scarlets bench, Matthew Rees the other - stroked the conversion having come on at the break for Priestland at 10, but Munster stretched away again.

David Lyons did well to hold up Leamy on the line but then Earls made use of a huge overlap on the left to score, O'Gara adding the conversion.

A fourth try duly followed for the bonus point as the Munster scrum shunted the Scarlets eight back over the line, allowing Leamy to drop on the ball from eight.

Munster suffered another sin-binning with five minutes to go when Lifeimi Mafi pushed the limits in defence.

But it made little difference as the Irish ground out the clock for a 13th win in 15 league games this season.

Scarlets fly-half Stephen Jones:
"Not too bad, a spirited effort but just need to work on our efficiency, especially in the contact area.

"They were very good there tonight and turned a lot of ball over, but positive was the attitude.

"It's disappointing [for Tomos O'Leary], poor guy, he's been fantastic this season and I believe he's fractured his ankle and it's a sad loss."

Munster: P Warwick; D Howlett, K Earls, L Mafi, I Dowling; R O'Gara, T O'Leary; M Horan, J Flannery, J Hayes, D O'Callaghan, M O'Driscoll (capt), A Quinlan, D Wallace, D Leamy.
Replacements: D Fogarty for Flannery (63), T Buckley for Hayes (64), D Ryan for Quinlan (69), N Ronan for Wallace (62), P Stringer for O'Leary (10), B Murphy or Howlett (71), D Hurley for Warwick (48).

Scarlets: Daniel Evans; Mark Jones (capt), Rob Higgitt, Jon Davies, Lee Williams; Rhys Priestland, Martin Roberts; Iestyn Thomas, Mahonri Schwalger, Scott Roberts, Vernon Cooper, Dominic Day, Josh Turnbull, Rob McCusker, David Lyons.
Replacements: Phil John for S. Roberts (41), Matthew Rees for Schwalger (41), Aaron Shingler for McCusker (75), Johnathon Edwards for Turnbull (63), Gavin Cattle for Higgitt (76), Stephen Jones for Priestland (41), Ceiron Thomas for M. Jones (63).

Att: 8,000

Referee: Neil Paterson (SRFU).

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see also
Boks' James to miss Lions series
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Lions omissions shock De Villiers
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Jones relishing Lions challenge
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BBC to screen rearranged derbies
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Magners Celtic League 2008/9
29 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Magners League table
09 Aug 06 |  Tables
Celtic rugby archive
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