Leinster clinch an unprecedented third Pro14 title in a row
Dream start by Ulster but Edinburgh’s conquerors can’t last the pace
Leinster became the first ever Guinness Pro14 three-in-a-row champions after breaking free of Ulster in the second half to record a 27-5 win in the final in Dublin.
Robbie Henshaw’s 45th-minute intercept try and a closing score from Caelan Doris were the highlights as Leinster claimed their fifth Pro12 or Pro14 title in eight years.
With a crunch Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Saracens just a week away, captain Jonathan Sexton was benched up to the hour mark as Ross Byrne kicked Leinster into a 10-5 half-time lead.
Leo Cullen’s men duly completed an unbeaten Pro14 season and extended their winning streak to 25 matches ahead of the visit of Sarries – the last team to defeat them 16 months ago.
Buoyed by their late heroics in the semi-final win over Edinburgh, Ulster enjoyed a dream start to their first final appearance since 2013. Alan O’Connor’s pull-back pass released James Hume from 40 metres out and the centre got away from Ronan Kelleher and Lowe to brilliantly score near the left corner. Leinster built patiently for a response, which they found nine minutes later.
Jamison Gibson-Park’s cut-out pass put James Lowe over out wide, the conversion neatly supplied by Byrne for a 7-5 lead. A Byrne penalty increased Leinster’s advantage in the 26th minute.
Leinster began the second half with a booming Byrne penalty and the killer blow arrived just moments later. Henshaw gobbled up a Burns pass just inside the Ulster half and stayed clear of the chasing Michael Lowry to go in under the posts. Byrne’s conversion made it 20-5.
The clinching try arrived nine minutes from time when flanker Doris drove past Jordi Murphy and Ian Madigan, and under the posts, with Sexton converting.
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