Leinster’s Max Deegan and Scott Penny both scored a brace of tries to add to five-pointers from Robbie Henshaw, Fergus McFadden, Cian Kelleher and Rob Kearney to wrap-up a comprehensive victory.
Leinster had the perfect start to the game as Deegan scored the opening try of the night when he powered over from close range after just over three-minutes. Harry Byrne sent the conversion between the posts to make it 7-0.
Ulster came flying back and were camped in the Leinster 22, as the home side conceded penalty after penalty, with the visitors refusing to take the three-points from a kickable position.
They were rewarded for their patience when they spread the ball wide to winger Angus Kernohan from a scrum and he bolted over the line to touch-down. Bill Johnston sent over a lovely conversion to level the scores with 10 minutes on the clock.
However, just as Ulster had done, Leinster hit back right after the restart and held onto the ball for the next five minutes, edging closer and closer to the try-line, before eventually flanker Penny drove over for his team’s second try. Byrne made it two from two from the tee to make it 14-7.
Things got worse for the northern province heading towards the end of the first quarter as centre Matt Faddes was sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle on Leinster debutant Tommy O’Brien.
Leinster took full advantage of the extra man and had their third try with 23-minutes on the clock as they powered forward, going through the phases before Penny again pushed over the line from close-range. Byrne smashed the extras over from the right-hand side of the posts to stretch the lead to 21-7, with Ulster full-back Rob Lyttle going off injured following the kick.
The home side had the bonus-point wrapped up before the half-hour mark as they took the ball up the field before Byrne chipped a perfectly weighted ball over to the right side of the pitch to Henshaw, who collected and strolled over for the fourth try. Byrne slotted a brilliant kick over from the right-touchline.
Ulster got another try on the board when Deegan sent a poor pass to Jamison Gibson-Park from a scrum near half-way and from there Faddes picked up the loose ball, sprinting forward and out-running the Leinster defence to score. Johnston hit the extras to cut Leinster’s lead to 28-14 with 36-minutes gone.
Although it was Leinster that had the last laugh of the half as Byrne showed some fantastic dancing feet to break through the opposition defence, before getting tapped to the ground, but got the pop-pass away. From there McFadden had the easy task of picking the ball up from a ruck in front of the try-line and bursting over. Byrne couldn’t add the extra two, but the hosts went in 33-14 up at the half-time whistle.
Leinster started where they left off in the first-half at the opening of the second-half, as they burst into the Ulster half before Byrne sent a long-pass out to Kearney, who stepped inside from the right-wing and barrelled over for the try. Byrne made no mistake with the kick to make it 40-14 with only five-minutes gone in the second-half.
Four-minutes later and they had their seventh try as McFadden showed some brilliant vision and skill as he took a quick penalty in his own half, kicking the ball from the right-wing to the left. Henshaw plucked the ball out of the sky and sent the ball left to Kelleher, who raced forward to score his try. Byrne made it six kicks from seven making it 47-14 with half and hour to go.
Ulster got a lucky third-try of the game as they approached the hour-mark, as Penny sent a loose pass toward the left-wing which Craig Gilroy intercepted and bolted over the line. Johnston again scored the conversion to make it 47-21.
With 63-minutes on the clock Leinster were in once again as Deegan picked from the back of a scrum and charged under the posts for his second try of the night. Byrne converted once more.
The scoring continued as the away side went over through Greg Jones which secured a bonus-point for them. Johnston maintained his 100% record from the tee with his fourth conversion of the game to make it 54-28.
Ulster’s fight-back continued as Jones went over for another try with eight minutes left. Johnston kicked a brilliant conversion from the left of the posts to cut into the lead late on.
Josh Murphy was shown a yellow-card after an accumulation of penalties from the home side in the final minute. From the resulting scrum replacement scrum-half darted over for his side’s sixth try of the game. Johnston converted with the final kick of the match to leave it at 54-42.
The win pushes Leinster further ahead at the top of Conference A with eight wins from eight in the PRO14, while Ulster will be encouraged by their late rally from their youngsters. Next up for Leinster is a trip to Munster on December 28th, while Ulster face Connacht the day before as they continue the inter-provincial derbies over the Christmas period.
Leinster Starting XV:
Rob Kearney (7), Fergus McFadden (8), Tommy O’Brien (7), Robbie Henshaw (8), Cian Kelleher (7), Harry Byrne (9), Jamison Gibson-Park (7); Peter Dooley (7), Sean Cronin (7), Andrew Porter (7), Scott Fardy (7), Josh Murphy (8), Will Connors (7), Scott Penny (9), Max Deegan (9)
Ulster Starting XV:
Rob Lyttle (5), Craig Gilroy (7), Matt Faddes (6), Angus Curtis (6), Angus Kernohan (6), Bill Johnston (7), David Shanahan (7); Andrew Warwick (6), Adam McBurney (6), Tom O’Toole (7), David O’Connor (6), Alan O’Connor (6), Matthew Rea (6), Nick Timoney (7), Greg Jones (7)
Guinness PRO14 make exciting statement regarding SA Rugby
The Guinness PRO14 this morning made the below statement regarding SA Rugby and the PRO14 which contains exciting news for the competition and South African Rugby.
“On August 25, PRO14 Rugby acknowledged that under current international travel restrictions it is not possible for South African teams to fulfil Guinness PRO14 fixtures until 2021.
PRO14 Rugby welcomes the news that the South African Rugby Union (SA Rugby) has been able to arrange a domestic schedule for its professional teams and that this is the first step in the return of their teams to on-field action.
SA Rugby’s long-standing commitments are to field two teams in the Guinness PRO14 and in light of the withdrawal of the Southern Kings, discussions are on-going about fulfilling this agreement from 2021 using a replacement team from its current professional franchises.
Additionally, both PRO14 Rugby and SA Rugby are in early discussions about potentially expanding the tournament and deepening our partnership to include more South African franchises from 2021.”
The board of SA Super Rugby (Pty) Ltd – which trades as the Southern Kings placed the insolvent company into voluntary liquidation to secure the longer-term financial future of rugby in Eastern Province.
The shareholders – the Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) and SA Rugby – took the decision in the face of an accumulated deficit of R55m, and with zero income in prospect for the remainder of 2020.
The loss of the Southern Kings will not be seen as a huge loss to the competition with them rarely upsetting the Betway odds.
Active discussions are ongoing with other South African teams to fill the void left by the Kings and also the potential of adding further franchises to expand the league.
PRO14 confirmed in August that the South African based sides will not play in the PRO14 for the rest of this calendar year, missing the start of the 2020-21 season, but PRO14 are still hopeful they will be able to compete in the 2020/21 season.
The remaining 12 teams from Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Italy will begin the new campaign in early October with the first round of 11 fixtures not involving the South African sides. It’s no surprise who the bookies favourites are for next season, and surely this will drive many fans to place bets on Rugby at Betway hoping for their side to come out on top.
As a result of COVID-19 and the impact it is has had and will have on rugby’s global competition structures, the PRO14 is the most likely home for more South African teams.
An interesting few months certainly ly ahead.
Ringrose to captain Leinster v Ulster
The Leinster Rugby team, as sponsored by Bank of Ireland, to face Ulster Rugby in the Final of the Guinness PRO14 tomorrow in the Aviva Stadium has been named by Leinster Head Coach Leo Cullen (KO 7.35pm – live on eir Sport, TG4 & RTÉ Radio).
Cullen has made a number of changes from the team that accounted for Munster Rugby in the semi-final with Garry Ringrose named as captain of the senior side for the first time.
The back three is the same that started against Munster last week with Jordan Larmour selected at full back having come through the graduated return to play protocols successfully this week and Hugo Keenan on the right wing and James Lowe on the left.
Robbie Henshaw is again selected at inside centre with captain Ringrose outside him in the number 13 jersey.
Ringrose made his Leinster debut in September 2015 on the wing against Cardiff Blues and tomorrow’s Guinness PRO14 Final will be his 75th appearance in a Leinster jersey. In that time he has scored 25 tries and has 29 Ireland caps to his name.
The half back partnership sees Jamison Gibson-Park and Ross Byrne start at nine and 10.
In the pack there is no change in the front row with Cian Healy, Rónan Kelleher and Andrew Porter again selected. In winning his 219th cap, Cian Healy joins Leo Cullen and Rob Kearney as the joint 4th most capped player in Leinster history.
James Ryan has recovered from injury to take his place in the second row alongside Devin Toner.
Finally in the back row, Guinness Player of the Match from last week Caelan Doris is again selected at blindside flanker with Josh van der Flier at openside and finally Jack Conan is selected in the number eight jersey.
Leinster Rugby (caps in brackets):
15. Jordan Larmour (48)
14. Hugo Keenan (16)
13. Garry Ringrose (74) CAPTAIN
12. Robbie Henshaw (46)
11. James Lowe (45)
10. Ross Byrne (87)
9. Jamison Gibson-Park (91)
1. Cian Healy (218)
2. Rónan Kelleher (13)
3.Andrew Porter (64)
4. Devin Toner (247)
5. James Ryan (37)
6. Caelan Doris (31)
7. Josh van der Flier (82)
8. Jack Conan (91)
16. James Tracy (109)
17. Ed Byrne (55)
18. Michael Bent (138)
19. Scott Fardy (60)
20. Will Connors (18)
21. Luke McGrath (125)
22. Johnny Sexton (165)
23. Rory O’Loughlin (69)
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)
Press Release from Leinster Rugby
Ulster make big changes for Leinster Final
The Ulster men will be boosted by the return of club captain, Iain Henderson, who will be making his first appearance since the season resumption, and is one of four changes to the side that defeated Edinburgh in last week’s thrilling Semi-Final at BT Murrayfield.
Alan O’Connor will partner Henderson in the second row, while the front row of Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring and Tom O’Toole is retained. The back row sees one change, with Sean Reidy coming into the starting line-up at openside flanker. Matthew Rea takes the blindside flanker position and Marcell Coetzee packs down at number eight.
The back three sees two positional switches, with Jacob Stockdale moving to the left wing, while Rob Lyttle swaps over to the right. Joining them at full-back is Michael Lowry, returning to the starting XV. Stuart McCloskey – who, along with John Cooney, was named in the Guinness PRO14 Dream Team earlier this week – continues his midfield partnership with James Hume. All Black scrum-half, Alby Mathewson, will make his first start for Ulster alongside Billy Burns at fly-half.
McFarland has opted for a 6-2 split on the bench where John Andrew, Jack McGrath, Marty Moore, Sam Carter, Jordi Murphy and Nick Timoney will offer the forward backup, and the backline cover is provided by John Cooney and Ian Madigan.
Ulster team to play Leinster Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Final, Aviva Stadium, Saturday 12 September (7.35pm, live on Premier Sports / eir Sport):
(15-9) Michael Lowry, Rob Lyttle, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, Alby Mathewson.
(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy, Marcell Coetzee.
Replacements (16-23): John Andrew, Jack McGrath, Marty Moore, Sam Carter, Jordi Murphy, John Cooney, Ian Madigan, Nick Timoney.
Press Release from Ulster Rugby