Leinster into Magners League final

Date published: May 13 2011

Heineken Cup finalists Leinster beat Ulster 18-3 at the RDS on Friday, to book themselves a place in the Magners League final.

Heineken Cup finalists Leinster beat Ulster 18-3 at the RDS on Friday, to book themselves a place in the Magners League final.

It's the second final in successive seasons for Leinster in the championship as last year's runners-up outscored their visitors two tries to nill, with Ulster's only points coming from a sole penalty by Ruan Pienaar.

Two penalties from Leinster pivot Jonathan Sexton and a Fergus McFadden try put the hosts in a comfortable 11-0 lead at half-time.

Pienaar gave Ulster a glimmer of hope with a three-pointer in the 60th minute, but the result was put beyond doubt when Luke Fitzgerald crossed the whitewash with nine minutes to go.

Leinster are now just 160 minutes away from a potential Magners League and Heineken Cup double.

It was not all good news, however, as Brian O'Driscoll was taken off with a leg injury just eight days before the European showdown with Northampton in Cardiff.

Ulster finished the regular season with nine wins in 11 matches but were not helped by a lengthy injury list and could not match their provincial rivals.

Sexton kicked Leinster into an early 3-0 lead after some good work by Isaac Boss in what was a keenly contested opening period.

Though try-scoring opportunities were minimal for either sides, it was the hosts who came closest in the tenth minute when McFadden's strength found the busy Richardt Strauss whose burst deep into Ulster territory almost released Fitzgerald, but the pass fell inches from the winger's hands.

It was a signal of intent from Leinster and eventually they broke the try deadlock when some good initial work from Gordon D'Arcy and Sean O'Brien found O'Driscoll whose clever offload to Isa Nacewa found McFadden who raced clear to score in the corner at the South End of the ground.

Sexton's difficult conversion struck the posts but he made amends with a penalty on the stroke of half-time to give the Blues an 11-0 half-time lead.

A raft of substitutions by Leinster meant that they took a bit of time to find their feet early on and a long penalty punt from Pienaar inside his own half on the hour mark reduced the advantage to eight points.

But one of a series of Stan Wright bursts in open play found the dangerous Fitzgerald after 71 minutes and he took a great line after an Eoin Reddan pass to beat the Ulster defence and touch down.

McFadden had little difficulty slotting home the extras and Leinster held on to seal the win and set up a final against the winners of Munster/Ospreys on Saturday evening.

The scorers:

For Leinster:Tries: McFadden, Fitzgerald
Con: McFadden
Pens: Sexton 2

For Ulster:
Pen: Pienaar

Leinster: 15 Isa Nacewa, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Sean O'Brien, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Leo Cullen (c), 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Jason Harris-Wright, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Stan Wright, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Kevin McLaughlin, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 David Kearney.

Ulster: 15 Adam D'Arcy, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Nevin Spence, 11 Simon Danielli, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Robbie Diack, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Pedrie Wannenburg, 5 Tim Barker, 4 Johann Muller, 3 Declan Fitzpatrick, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Andi Kyriacou, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Jerry Cronin, 19 Neil McComb, 20 TJ Anderson, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Ian Whitten, 23 Conor Gaston.

Referee: George Clancy