Planet Rugby

Leinster crowned PRO12 champions

25th May 2013 18:35

Share:

Leinster s Jonny Sexton lifts the Pro12 trophy

Winning exit: Jonathan Sexton

Leinster claimed their second trophy this year thanks to a 24-18 victory over Irish rivals Ulster in the PRO12 Final at the RDS in Dublin on Saturday.

Just a week after clinching the Challenge Cup, Leinster erased memories of last season's lost final by leading from start to finish on home soil.

Tries on either side of half time from Shane Jennings and Jamie Heaslip saw a classy Leinster side secure a deserved domestic and European double.

Ulster responded manfully through the boot of Ruan Pienaar, but a sizeable error count handed the initiative to their provincial rivals. In truth, the boys in blue were the better side.

For Leinster, this superb performance copper fastens their status as one of the pre-eminent forces in Europe, delivering the elusive league title they so craved, and giving Joe Schmidt a worthy send off.

It was an energetic start from both sides, but a poor kick from Paddy Jackson immediately handed the momentum to Leinster on the three-minute mark. From the ensuing line-out, a pick and go from the Leinster back row saw Jennings drive over for the opening try. Jonathan Sexton converted to give Leinster the perfect start.

The Challenge Cup champions were assuredly in the ascendancy, and the departing Sexton compounded Ulster's misery on seven minutes, when he slotted a penalty to make it 10-0 to the Dubliners.

But Ulster responded as they desperately needed to. A series of scrums on the Leinster five-metre line saw John Afoa turn the screw on Cian Healy. The Ulster pack seemed to have the Leinster line at their mercy, but Nick Williams failed to control at the base and Ian Madigan was able to clear Leinster's lines to avert danger.

Ulster appeared to have settled their palpable nerves by the 15 minute mark, and began to secure parity in terms of possession. Robbie Diack seemed to have squeezed in at the corner on 17 minutes, but Sexton did really well to hold him up.

For all Ulster's endeavour, Leinster seemed very much in control, but were certainly assisted by Ulster's profligacy. Pienaar reduced the deficit on 23 minutes to make it 10-3 to the erstwhile European champions.

Leinster by now were exhibiting superb line speed in defence, and proved extremely efficient and physical in the contact area. Sexton extended Leinster's lead on 33 minutes, when he converted a magnificent penalty from over the half way line.

But the breakdown contest was descending into a free for all, and Leinster conceded a penalty a minute later, allowing Pienaar to reduce the arrears to seven. The back row battle, as expected, was being ferociously contested, and the penalty count was accumulating for both teams. Sexton extended Leinster's lead even further on 39 minutes, when Ulster conceded yet another penalty at the breakdown.

The second half began with Ulster urgently trying to regain the momentum, and assert themselves. But Leinster continued to dominate the breakdown battle. Leinster's tangible superiority witnessed Sexton extend the advantage even further on 45 minutes, making it 19-6 to the southern province.

Simultaneously Ulster's cause was damaged further when Diack was dismissed to the sin-bin.

Leinster's lead was beginning to look unassailable at this stage. Ulster did respond on 47 minutes when a sublime break by Jackson carved open the Leinster defence, and the young fly-half was somewhat unfortunate not to create a try. Pienaar converted the ensuing penalty to make it 19-9.

The nominal hosts were beginning to claw back the lead, however, and reduced Leinster's advantage further on 51 minutes when Pienaar slotted another penalty following an infringement by Madigan. Although Leinster were undeniably the better side, Ulster were tenaciously re-establishing a foothold in the game.

And the penalty count was starting to negate the Blues' supremacy. Thus it was Pienaar who scored next, when he continued his flawless kicking effort to reduce the lead to four points.

But Leinster responded as champion teams do. The Irish kingpins marched ominously into the Ulster half, and launched a succession of drives.

From there, Leinster camped themselves in Ulster's 22, and the team from Belfast's rearguard struggled desperately to hold on. But they found themselves stretched and, with the referee playing advantage, Heaslip scored Leinster's second and decisive try.

Pienaar rekindled Ulster hopes on 69 minutes to make it 24-18.

But Leinster held on to seal victory, and cement their reputation as the greatest Irish province of the modern era.

The scorers:

For Ulster:
Pens: Pienaar 6
Yellow card: Diack

For Leinster:
Tries: Jennings, Heaslip
Con: Sexton
Pens: Sexton 3
Yellow cards: Nacewa

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Tommy Bowe, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller (c), 3 John Afoa, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Callum Black, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Mike McComish, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Michael Allen, 23 Peter Nelson.

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Ian Madigan, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Leo Cullen (c), 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Quinn Roux, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 John Cooney, 22 Andrew Goodman, 23 Andrew Conway.

Venue: RDS, Dublin
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: George Clancy (Ireland), Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Television match official: Dermot Moloney (Ireland)
Citing Commissioner: Achille Reali (Italy)

By Rory McGimpsey

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Heineken Cup
Saturday , April 26
Saracens vs Clermont Auvergne15:40
Sunday , April 27
Toulon vs Munster15:30
More Heineken Cup fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Saturday , April 26
Glasgow vs EdinburghGlasgow vs Edinburgh Preview
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Amlin Challenge Cup
Friday , April 25
Northampton vs HarlequinsNorthampton vs Harlequins Preview
Sunday , April 27
Wasps vs Bath13:00
More Amlin Challenge Cup fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 25
Blues vs WaratahsBlues vs Waratahs Preview
Brumbies vs ChiefsBrumbies vs Chiefs Preview
Sharks vs HighlandersSharks vs Highlanders Preview
Saturday , April 26
Hurricanes vs Reds19:35
Western Force vs Bulls17:40
Cheetahs vs Stormers17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 20
Northampton 36 - 21 London IrishNorthampton vs London Irish Report
Newcastle 18 - 23 SaracensNewcastle vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Cardiff Blues 17 - 13 ScarletsCardiff Blues vs Scarlets Report
Newport Gwent D'gons 10 - 20 Ospreys
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , April 19
Bath 32 - 20 WorcesterBath vs Worcester Report
Exeter 12 - 55 SaleExeter vs Sale Report
Wasps 38 - 30 GloucesterWasps vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Zebre 26 - 13 EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Report
Connacht 23 - 32 MunsterConnacht vs Munster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Oyonnax 19 - 19 ToulouseOyonnax vs Toulouse Report
Biarritz 19 - 13 Brive
Perpignan 31 - 46 ToulonPerpignan vs Toulon Report
Racing Metro Paris 22 - 6 Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Stade Francais 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Grenoble 21 - 21 Bayonne
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 17 - 18 CrusadersChiefs vs Crusaders Report
Sharks 19 - 8 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
Waratahs 19 - 12 BullsWaratahs vs Bulls Report
Stormers 18 - 3 LionsStormers vs Lions Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins 24 - 20 LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Leinster 62 - 7 Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Report
Glasgow 27 - 9 UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Castres 22 - 15 MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Hurricanes 39 - 20 BluesHurricanes vs Blues Report
Melbourne Rebels 22 - 16 Western Force
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens2080
2Northampton2071
3Bath2064
4Leicester Tigers2064
5Harlequins2058