Leinster Rugby v Glasgow Warriors
In an historic occasion for Glasgow Warriors and Scottish Rugby, Gregor Townsend’s men went down 34-12 at the RDS Arena meaning Leinster retain the RaboDirect PRO12 title.
The first half was a tense affair and Leinster were in front 14-12 at the break following two tries from the men from Dublin. Russell booted all of Glasgow’s points.
However, in the second half, Leinster steamrollered the Warriors as the game drew to a close, scoring two tries, making the scoreline seem extremely harsh on Townsend’s men.
Glasgow’s head coach made two changes to the side that were victorious in the rip-roaring semi-final against Munster.
Following his crucial try in that match, Gordon Reid was given a starting berth along with Peter Horne.
Meanwhile Leinster fielded Brian O’Driscoll for the final time. Their captain Leo Cullen also made his last appearance for the men from Dublin.
The game began with ferocious intensity, and after a busy two-minute spell of both sides crashing into thunderous tackles, Glasgow were awarded a penalty.
After recently being named as the club’s Young Player of the Year, Finn Russell stepped up and banged the ball over the posts to give his side an early 3-0 lead.
In response, Leinster showed ambition, opting to kick for the corner following fouls instead of going for the posts.
Their brave move counted against them after five minutes as Glasgow were strong in defence, with the Warrior Nation cheering every tackle.
The men from the west of Scotland were then given a further boost after eight minutes when Leinster’s talisman Brian O’Driscoll was forced to retire injured.
Moments later, Glasgow extended their lead to six points in fortunate fashion. After Tommy Seymour was scythed down by a high tackle, Finn Russell kicked for the posts and hit the upright. The ball fell in his favour though and the touch judges raised their flags aloft.
Following a prolonged period of pressure, Zane Kirchner touched down in the corner for Leinster.
Despite the kick being presented at an awkward angle, Jimmy Gopperth stepped up and booted the ball straight over the posts to give his side a one-point lead.
During the first period, Glasgow were forced into two changes with MacArthur and Leone Nakarawa coming on for Hall and Fusaro.
As has been the case many times this season, Nakarawa made an immediate impact but this time it was his lightening quick pace that stunned the opposition as well as his breathtaking offloads.
Following a darting sprint, Glasgow mounted pressure and Leinster yielded, giving away a penalty.
Russell was then able to rifle home the penalty from close range to put the Warriors 9-7 ahead.
Moments before the break, Leinster scored their second try of the evening. A searing break from Kirchner cut the Glasgow defence wide open and an offload allowed Shane Jennings to dot down.
That wasn’t the last score of the half though as Finn Russell fired over his fourth penalty of the game on the stroke of 40 minutes. Leinster led 14-12 at the interval.
At the start of the second period, referee Nigel Owens looked to his TMO for assistance after Cian Healy made a break for the line. The Leinster forward failed to ground the ball though, crashing into the posts instead, and the try wasn’t awarded.
The men in blue were then inches away from extending their lead by three points moments after being denied the try when Jimmy Gopperth saw his penalty brush the outside of the post.
After 54 minutes, the Warriors made a break for the line through Niko Matawalu. He failed the reach the tryline though and Leinster broke with frightening pace. A deft chip from Gopperth put Glasgow in trouble but Seymour was quick to boot clear.
From the resultant scrum, they won a penalty and Gopperth gave his side a 17-12 lead.
The Leinster number 10 was consistent from the kicking tee and with 15 minutes remaining he put them into an eight-point lead from a penalty.
Backed by a large crowd, Leinster then put the result beyond doubt after 74 minutes.
Glasgow frantically tried to break forward but their opponents broke in numbers and Zane Kirchner dived over for the try. Gopperth then converted.
Glasgow had given their all and were out on their feet. Leinster were in a contrasting mood though and with four minutes of the match remaining, Gordon D’Arcy touched down in the corner and Gopperth converted to put them 34-12 ahead.
As the final whistle blew, the Warriors sank to the ground, after putting in a tireless performance on the biggest stage.
Leinster hoisted the trophy aloft and performed a lap of hounour whilst Al Kellock and his side were given a rapturous reception from the 2,500 travelling fans from Scotland who shouted themselves hoarse