May 31, 2014
Leinster 34 - 12 Glasgow Warriors
GUINNESS PRO12 match played at RDS on Saturday May 31st 2014 | No comments
Finn Russell kicked Glasgow's points In a thrilling match at the RDS in perfect conditions, Leinster overcame Glasgow Warriors to lift the RaboDirect PRO12 trophy.
Nine straight wins gave the Warriors lots of momentum going into the final but it proved to be one game too many for them as Leinster lifted their seventh major trophy in as many years.
The defending champions ran out worthy winners, but their late tries produced a scoreline that didn't reflect the match as a whole.
Glasgow were bidding to become the first Scottish winners of the PRO12 and they were far from overawed at the RDS, four penalties from Finn Russell meaning they were only 14-12 behind at half-time.
The Irishmen had the bulk of play in the second period but Glasgow were still in this game with ten minutes to go, but whereas Leinster were clinical, the Warriors couldn't convert the handful of opportunities they had.
Glasgow's error count was too high and when cool heads and patience were needed poor decisions were made, whereas Leinster have been here many times before and it showed.
The Warriors got off to a good start and unsettled the hosts straight away with Finn Russell blocking down Jimmy Gopperth in the first minute.
The 22-year-old landed a long range penalty soon after and Leinster emerged pointless from their first visit to the Scots' 22, knocking on after turning down a kickable three-pointer.
Worse followed for Matt O'Connor's men when Brian O'Driscoll - playing his final match- hobbled off injured with Ian Madigan replacing him.
Russell then punished Mike McCarthy's high tackle with a superb strike from the left wing that went over off the right hand post.
But Leinster's patience was rewarded on the quarter hour mark, building pressure through 20-plus phases before Rob Kearney released winger Zane Kirchner to finish in the left corner. Gopperth nailed the conversion for a 7-6 advantage.
The high pace continued into the second quarter with both defences tested in the sun-kissed conditions.
Half-breaks from Chris Cusiter and Peter Horne saw Glasgow exert more control and Russell's third penalty came after an eye-catching burst from big Fijian Leone Nakarawa.
Tellingly, Kirchner turned creator in the 38th minute as he breezed through a midfield gap and Shane Jennings was on his shoulder to run in a converted try from 25 metres out.
There was still time for Russell to make it a two-point game, drilling home a late penalty from just inside the Leinster half.
The hosts were denied a third try on the resumption, referee Nigel Owens ruling that Cian Healy had been tackled before getting up to reach for the try-line.
Gopperth hit an upright with a penalty attempt from distance and Glasgow showed their offloading ability as replacement Niko Matawalu sparked their attack into life.
As bodies tired, Matawalu crucially lost the ball forward as he lunged for the Leinster line and a Gopperth-inspired counter almost led to Madigan scoring from his own kick through.
A powerful close-in scrum allowed Gopperth stretch Leinster's lead to 17-12 and their greater experience began to tell as Gopperth widened the margin to eight points, with Nakarawa infringing at a ruck.
Glasgow's brave challenge was petering out as Gopperth missed a drop goal and a charge from man-of-the-match Sean Cronin could have garnered a try.
The victory was duly wrapped up by Kirchner's second touchdown in the 74th minute, a crisp passing move allowing D'Arcy to break free and send the South African over.
The roles were reversed just two minutes later as Leinster profited from turnover ball and Kirchner set up the tireless D'Arcy to go over in the same left corner.