Matt O’Connor was left counting the cost of a lack of cutting edge from his troops as Leinster fell to a RaboDirect PRO12 derby defeat to Munster.
Defending champions Leinster got off to a fine start at Thomond Park as Ian Madigan kicked two penalties, only for Ian Keatley to half the deficit on 32 minutes with a three-pointer of his own.
Shortly after Keatley’s penalty Madigan found himself in the sin bin and Munster made full advantage of the extra man as Keith Earls went over for a try.
Keatley kept the scoreboard ticking over for Munster after the interval and they ran out 19-15 winners while O’Connor admitted the opportunity to get one over their fierce rivals had slipped through Leinster’s fingers.
The victory saw Munster deservedly end a four-match losing streak against Leinster, who were without Brian O’Driscoll due to a calf strain.
“I think the attitude we showed was really good, we let ourselves down a little bit and we didn’t take our chances to score which is always going to be decisive,” O’Connor said.
“You lose your No 10 for 10 minutes and you end up chasing the game, you’re into the wind and it changes the dynamic.
“But I think we created enough opportunities to win the game, we just didn’t take them.”
After a stop-start opening quarter, Munster edged their way to a 10-9 interval lead with Keatley creating - and converting - a classy 33rd-minute try for Earls.
Keatley’s opposite number Madigan, who had been sin-binned in the previous play, landed two first-half penalties which were added to by a Fergus McFadden kick on the stroke of half-time.
There was little between the provinces in the second period, but Munster’s forwards exerted greater control, especially in the scrum, and Keatley’s right boot did the rest, landing three more penalties to two from Madigan.
Leinster had taken a third-minute lead, with a brave catch from Rob Kearney setting them up for some strong early phases - the product of which was a successful Madigan penalty from the 10-metre line.
Both Madigan and Keatley then missed penalties before the former made it 6-0 with a kick from close to the Munster uprights.
The hosts quickly responded and marched downfield to win a penalty which allowed Keatley to get them off the mark.
The Munster fly-half took centre-stage approaching the interval, sparking the long-range break that led to Madigan’s sin-binning and Earls’ subsequent try owed much to the accuracy of Keatley’s booming cross-field kick.
Earls had gone close to scoring just moments earlier, David Kearney scrambling back to deny him but at the ensuing ruck Madigan needlessly came in at the side to play the ball and French referee Romain Poite reached for his yellow card.