Leinster will face Glasgow in the Guinness Pro14 final on Saturday, which is almost certainly the encounter that the fans want and deserve. Both teams topped their respective conference, Leinster by a landslide, scoring an astonishing 95 tries during the regular season, Glasgow a little less comprehensively.
Leinster won the last time these two teams reached the final back in 2014, with the match held at Dublin’s RDS. This time Glasgow will have home advantage of a sort with next weekend’s decider played at Celtic Park.
Whatever team Leo Cullen picks for the final it probably won’t include Devin Toner after the Ireland lock injured his knee in a tackle and hobbled off the pitch in some pain.
Following the flood of ten tries in the first semi-final at Scotstoun on Friday night we had a relative drought at Dublin’s RDS with only the two, the second of which arrived at the death. Instead this match was a typical Leinster/Munster encounter, tight, nervy with little to choose between the two teams on the day.
That Leinster edged it was down to their greater experience at getting over the line on the big occasion and it represented a timely return to winning ways after their Champions Cup reversal against Saracens.
Munster were also guilty of indiscipline, the first try of the match arriving with their hooker Niall Scannell in the bin.
The home team also boasted the better bench. Jonny Sexton was voted World Player of the Year in 2018 and he was whistled into the action midway through the second half, replacing Ross Bryne who had already contributed a handy four penalties and one conversion. Sexton’s first action was to make a sublime break which should have resulted in a try had the stand-off noted Dave Kearney on his left.
The Leinster set scrum with two Lions in the front row was under extreme pressure in the opening hour and actually improved when the lesser lights of Andrew Porter and Ed Bryne replaced Tadhg Furlong and Cian Healy in the middle of the second half.
The first try of the match, when it eventually arrived on 54 minutes, was worth the wait.
Against 14 Munstermen, the home side gave the ball plenty of width before the twin props, Healy and Furlong, sent their front row amigo Sean Cronin over the try line with still plenty of work to do for the mobile hooker.
Munster will wonder what they have to do to win in Dublin because they had the better of the first half after taking a leaf from Saracens’ play book with a hugely physical assault on their hosts.
Dave Kilcoyne was the best of the red forwards while Chris Farrell made huge inroads every time the leggy centre got hands on the ball.
Still, the visitors ended the first half trailing 9-6 after Leinster opted to attack with the clock in the red numbers and Munster conceded another soft penalty right in front of the sticks.
Cronin’s try in the third quarter gave Leinster a precious ten-point lead and Munster never really looked like winning from then on.
Instead the second and final try of the match went to Leinster’s Kiwi winger Lowe, who fended off the last defender to touch down in the corner with the last play of the match.