LEINSTER SCORED 13 unanswered points in the final 23 minutes to emerge victorious from the Pro12 semi-final against Ulster.
In a game of dominant defences and precious few opportunities, Ian Madigan provided the game’s deciding score, crashing over the try-line with Ulster still leading 6 – 9 in the 71st minute.
Leinster had looked to be facing the competitions first-ever home defeat at the semi-final stage, particularly when Brian O’Driscoll was forced off after a clash of heads with Iain Henderson.
It was Madigan, who replaced O’Driscoll on the 50-minute mark, however, the big blow for Ulster came with the loss of Paddy Jackson to the concussion bin.
Jackson had kicked his side into a six-point lead by half-time and extended it to 9 – 0 shortly after the restart. However, once Leinster found their momentum and began unleashing the big names of Mike Ross, Sean O’Brien and Leo Cullen from the bench, Ulster consigned themselves to damage-limitation mode.
The visitors, guided by superb comeback performances from Ruan Pienaar and Rory Best, would have an opportunity to strike back with an attacking line-out minutes from full-time.
But once again, Ulster found themselves on the wrong side of a knock-out clash with Leinster and the northern province must look forward to a period of transition, while Leinster have a fortnight to patch up their squad (and assess O’Driscoll’s suspected concussion) in time for another day out at the RDS, when Glasgow will visit for the Grand Final.
Try: Ian Madigan
Conversion: Jimmy Gopperth.
Penalties: Jimmy Gopperth (2)
Penalties: Jackson (3)
Leinster: Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Dave Kearney; Jimmy Gopperth, Eoin Reddan; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Martin Moore; Devin Toner, Quinn Roux; Rhys Ruddock, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip (capt.).
Replacements: Aaron Dundon, Jack McGrath, Mike Ross, Leo Cullen, Sean O’Brien, Luke McGrath, Ian Madigan, Zane Kirchner.
Ulster: Craig Gilroy; Tommy Bowe, Jared Payne, Darren Cave, Andrew Trimble; Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar; Callum Black, Rory Best, Ricky Lutton; Johann Muller (capt.), Iain Henderson, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Roger Wilson.
Replacements: Rob Herring, Andrew Warwick, Adam Macklin, Dan Tuohy, Sean Doyle, Paul Marshall, James McKinney, Luke Marshall.