The final chapter of the long goodbye awaited and the Blues did not disappoint.
LEINSTER WERE SEEKING to become the first team to retain the RaboDirect Pro12 title. It was also, in case your forgot, the final ever game for Leo Cullen and Brian O’Driscoll.
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The sun is sweltering the usually frigid confines of the press room — so much so that hard-bitten reporters have asked for water to be dropped in.
No late changes to either Leinster or Glasgow.
Here are a few preview pieces to get you revved up and informed before the 6:15pm kick-off.
Just met ROG and Isa Nacewa there. I am ashamed to say I gave Isa a raised eyebrow [of respect, of course] and reserved a handshake for O’Gara.
What are you feeling out there? Where are you watching the Grand Final? Money on O’Driscoll to score the first or last try?
They just called out O’Driscoll’s name on the PA system and it gets the first rousing chair of the day.
The Glasgow fans have travelled in numbers. Estimated 3,500 have come over from Scotland for the game.
Okay, we’re ready to roll. Leinster fans in strong voice. Let’s do it!
Jimmy Gopperth KICKS-OFF
1 mins - Rob Kearney immediately blocked down by Finn Russell. Hoofed clear by the covering defender.
3 mins - They are testing Kearney’s vision under the summer sun. He gets to another up-and-under too late but hacks sideways and McCarthy mops up. Penalty then conceded as Leinster infringe at the first proper ruck of the game.
PEN: Leinster 0-3 Glasgow (Russell ’3)
40 metres out and over it goes. Huge cheer from the Scots.
5 mins - First scrum coming up on the Warriors 22. Leinster recycle well and Leinster get a penalty as the bind was lost up front. Gopperth to go for the sticks.
7 mins - No! Statement from Leinster as they kick for the line. Ballsy move does not pay off as Kirchner spills forward after a pop pass.
Looks like O’Driscoll’s game could be over… It is. He limps off. Madigan on.
11 mins - Warriors’ tails are up after the shock, early departure of O’Driscoll. It looks like his hamstring was gone. Such a shame. Madigan at outside centre now.
PEN: Leinster 0-6 Glasgow (Russell ’12)
Over, via the far post. Excellent kick from the left-hand touchline.
RTE are reporting that O’Driscoll is off with a knee injury. Whatever the doctor says, it looks as if his time is up.
15 mins - Leinster click into gear and go through the phases in the Warriors 22. Jennings the driving force. 5m out. Space out wide on the left… Kirchner!!!
TRY! Leinster 5-6 Glasgow (Kirchner ’16)
Warriors drawn in to defend the phases. Owens asking the TMO to review Scottosh foul play but no doubts about the try. Good work from Cronin to keep the move alive and the final pass from Kearney.
CON: Leinster 7-6 Glasgow (Gopperth ’17)
Sweetly struck from the left-hand touchline by the Kiwi. Reddan snipes 30 metres up-field but can’t connect with Cronin in support.
19 mins - Reid beats Ross (or gets on top) this time. Penalty Glasgow and Russell pumps the ball to the Leinster 10m line for an attacking line-out.
23 mins - Typical Leinster. They turnover the Scots in their own 22, break up-field, Healy shows nice pace and defence is turned to attack. Kirchner chips on but it dribbles out in the Warriors 22. They eventually retrieve possession and the backs have a dart.
24 mins - D’Arcy caught in possession and knocks on trying to offload when holding on would have been the better option.
Substitution: Nakarawa on at openside for the injured Fusaro.
26 mins - Glasgow doing well with their own scrum put-ins. Strauss peels off and it bneeds Ruddock and Kirchner to bring him down. Warriors are shading it but Leinster will not be too upset with their current position, leading narrowly as they are.
30 mins - Cronin has been Leinster’s best player in the opening half. Gopperth wins a crucial turnover on his own 22 to relieve some pressure.
This is the moment Brian O’Driscoll left a rugby pitch for [it seems] the final time:
33 mins - Nakarawa busts the Blue line and leaves Ruddock for dead. Kirchner needs to stand up in defence and does so. Kellock has a dart that is repelled. Eventually, however, Ross gives away a penalty.
PEN: Leinster 7-9 Glasgow (Russell ’34)
From 18 metres out, Russell chips over.
TRY!! Leinster 14-9 Glasgow (Jennings ’37)
Kirchner you beauty. D’Arcy breaks, Leinster recycle, the South African takes a great line and breaks a tackle. Jennings in support and he is teed up for a fine try. Gopperth converts.
40 +1 mins - Penalty coming for Glasgow and Russell can reduce the gap to two points in injury time. Russell will take a punt from 45 metres.
PEN: Leinster 14-12 Glasgow (Russell ’40 +2)
Over she goes from Scotland’s new Chris Patterson. This guy has some stones.
Here is that Kirchner try. He is having his best game of the season:
KICK-OFF by Russell.
41 mins - Kicking war to get us started. Owens causes confusion as Murchie touches down on his tryline and tries to run out of his 22. ‘You confused me there’ quips the Welshman.
43 mins - Lovely kick in behind the Warriors defence by Gopperth as he switches sides to get the Scots throwing line-outs 10m from their line.
Oo-er! Terrible throw. Jennings snatches. We have a TMO! Could be Healy.
Two things for the video ref to check — knock on Jennings? No. Did Healy touch the ball off the base of the posts? No.
Sub: Matawalu on for Cusiter.
47 mins - Tedium as scrums are re-set twice. Leinster put-in. Matawalu pressures Reddan so the pass goes to no-one. Penalty awarded to Leinster by Owens after that scrum. Gopperth WILL go for the posts this time.
Penalty is off the post!
49 mins - Madigan struggling with a jarred knee. McFadden makes his first incision of note before Cronin offers and makes some ground. Meanwhile, Scottish international Tim Swinson replaces Glasgow captain Kellock.
And Marty Moore is on for Mike Ross.
50 mins - Russell kicks out on the full and Leinster come back for a line-out on the Scots’ 10m line. Sean O’Brien ready to come on.
Reddan hospital pass to D’Arcy leads to a knock-on but Russell relieves that by kicking out on the full again.
The Cian Healy try that wasn’t (below). How crucial may that TMO call prove?
54 mins - Toner can’t ground a flying Seymour. Mirroring the Ulster game here as solid Leinster defence does the job. Moore turns over but Kearney spoils that by peppering his clearing kick too long and over the Warriors dead-ball line.
Jennings off and O’Brien on. Handy replacement that lad.
56 mins - How did Leinster hang on there? They defend for their lives on their line and, out of nowhere, Gopperth sprints clear on the break. Chip over the top and Madigan is almost in but Seymour hacks out of play. Gopperth and Cronin — fantastic!
57 mins - Big attacking scrum coming up for Leinster. 5m out from the Warriors line.
It crumples. Easy penalty coming up for Gopperth. Healy bests Moray Low.
PEN: Leinster 17-12 Glasgow (Gopperth ’59)
Chips it over and the lead is five points. Here comes Leo Cullen for McCarthy.
61 mins - Nakarawa and Matawalu try to go it alone [together] but Leinster squueze them out of play. Short lineout, Cronin to Heaslip. Nice move. Ruddock takes up the play and bashes forward. Strauss brings down O’Brien but Heaslip frees up the ball and Leinster tick on.
63 mins - Owens is scolding the Scottish lads up front so Leinster clearly on top there. McFadden and Kearney are trying to get something going but Warriors are defending with everything they have left.
Nakarawa gives away a stupid penalty for a late, offside hit on Reddan. O’Brien pats him on the back.
PEN: Leinster 20-12 Glasgow (Gopperth ’65)
40 metres out and slightly to the left of the posts but no hassle for Gopps. Eight point lead now with 15 to go.
Jack McGrath on for Cian Healy.
68 mins - Terrible, terrible snatch for drop goal by Gopperth. Chance gone abegging after another great Cronin burst.
This man. This man! Another great line break and more tackles bust.
70 mins - All blue now and Warriors running out of time, attacks and ideas. Another score should finish this but the visitors turn-over and rumble out of their 22.
72 mins - Gray knocks on in the Leinster 22 and Kearney thumps a clearance. They have to start again, on their 10m line.
TRY! Leinster 25-12 Glasgow (Kirchner ’74)
McFadden and Maitland have the friendliest afters of all time before Leinster stream up the left. D’Arcy makes the incision and finds Kirchner to dot down. Game, set, winners.
CON: Leinster 27-12 Glasgow (Gopperth ’75)
Out left and 30 metres from the target but Gopperth is firing. Over it goes.
TRY! Leinster 34-12 Glasgow (D’Arcy ’76)
Wheels coming off now for Glasgow. They chip straight to Madigan from their own tryline. He spins play wide and Kirchner draws in his man before repaying a favour and teeing up D’Arcy to score. Conversion is good from Gopperth. Darragh Fanning is on for Kearney and Isaac Boss replaces Reddan.
78 mins - Scrum on halfway as Sean Cronin gets the official Man-of-the-Match.
Jamie Heaslip playing his 34th 80-minute game of the season for Leinster and Ireland. Has not been subbed all year.
LEINSTER WIN THE RABODIRECT PRO12!
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