Leinster lay down gauntlet to Glasgow Warriors as they claim PRO14 Grand Final spot

Dubliners bounce back from last weekend's Champions Cup loss to Saracens with win over Munster to book spot in Celtic Park showdown

Leinster fans will look to out-cheer the 'home' Glasgow Warriors support at Celtic Park next Saturday. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson***

Leinster 24

Munster 9

GLASGOW WARRIORS will face last year’s champions Leinster in the Guinness PRO14 Grand Final after the Dublin-based side came out on top of a pulsating encounter at the RDS this [Saturday] afternoon. Leo Cullen’s side produced a dominant second-half performance which served notice of just how big a step-up Dave Rennie’s team will face at Celtic Park next Saturday afternoon compared to Friday night’s comfortable victory over Ulster.

“I’m pretty pleased, the first half was a little bit scratchy, I thought we were a little bit inaccurate around the set-piece in particular and couldn’t quite get into our flow with a couple of knock-ons in there as well, but it was nice to get that penalty just before half-time to settle us down,” said Cullen afterwards. “It was much better in the second half – we were much more threatening – and we were disciplined, composed and controlled for the most part.”

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Leinster suffered a dispiriting defeat to Saracens in the European Champions Cup Final at Newcastle last week, but if there was a psychological to physical hangover to that set-back then they quickly worked their way through it. Munster threw the kitchen sink at them, and Leinster took it all, before seeing the game off with room to spare.

In fact it was Leinster who drew first blood after Kiwi winger James Lowe nearly escaped down the left touchline in the second minute. What would have been a try-creating pass back inside to Dave Kearney didn’t go to hand, so the home team had to make do with a Ross Byrne penalty awarded against an earlier high tackle.

Munster struck right back three minutes later when Joey Carbery slotted his 22nd consecutive successful kick at goal from just inside the touchline, after Lowe was penalised for coming in at the side of a ruck.

Munster’s defence was ferocious but not always connected, meaning that they rattled Leinster but were also left exposed a few times which allowed the home team’s dangerous runners such as Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose and Kearney to open the game up on a few occasions.

Leinster hooker Sean Cronin was bundled into touch-and-goal from a smart line-out move, but Munster made most of the running.

Lowe was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on as Munster looked to exploit an overlap on the right following a great break by Tadhg Beirne, and Carbery added the three points to put the away side ahead with just under a half hour played.

But the away side couldn’t further press home their advantage and Leinster had squared it by the time their winger returned to the fray with Byrne making the most of an offside penalty.

And, incredibly, it was Leinster who went into the break with the lead, very much against the run of play, when Byrne once again hit the mark in the sixth minute of injury-time, after a Larmour inspired break-out earned a penalty for killing the ball in front of the posts.

Leinster came firing out the blocks at the resumption, with their previously under-pressure scrum milking a penalty and a bustling run from Cronin taking play deep into Munster’s 22. As Luke McGrath looked to spread the quick ball, the retiring Niall Scannell got in the way, and referee Mike Adamson immediately flashed the yellow-card, with Byrne knocking over the penalty for good measure.

Munster bounced back, Scott Fardy was penalised for going off his feet at a ruck and Carbery took the points. But Leinster were now hitting their straps, and after a scintillating passage of play, which dragged play from one touchline to the other back again, they got the first try of the match in 55 minutes when props Cian Healey and Tadhg Furlong combined to send Cronin over for his 13th try of the season.

Munster kept plugging away, but to no avail. As the game clock ticked into overtime, Leinster finished with a flourish, when slick hands from a scrum gave Lowe all the opportunity he needed, and he brushed past Mike Haley and Chris Farrell on his way to scoring in the corner.

Teams –

Leinster: J Larmour; D Kearney, G Ringrose, R Henshaw (R O’Loughlin 31-39, 78), J Lowe; R Byrne (J Sexton 57), L McGrath (N McCarthy 71); C Healy (E Byrne 61), S Cronin (B Byrne 61), T Furlong (A Porter 61), D Toner (S Fardy 39), J Ryan, R Ruddock, J van der Flier (M Deegan 76), J Conan.

Munster: M Haley; A Conway, C Farrell, R Scannell (D Goggin 67), K Earls; J Carbery (J Hanrahan 71), C Murray (A Mathewson 67); D Kilcoyne (L O’Connor 70), N Scannell (K O’Byrne 76), J Ryan (S Archer 57), J Kleyn (B Holland 57), T Beirne, P O’Mahony, C Stander, A Botha (J O’Donoghue 57).

Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU)


Scorers –

Leinster: Try: Cronin, Lowe; Con: Byrne; Pen: R Byrne 4.

Munster: Pen: Carbery 3

Scoring sequence (Leinster first): 3-0; 3-3; 3-6; 6-6; 9-6 (h-t) 12-6; 12-9; 17-9; 19-9; 24-9.


Yellow cards –

Leinster: Lowe

Munster: Scannell

Glasgow v Ulster: ‘Perfect preparation for Grand Final,’ says Dave Rennie


About David Barnes 4028 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.