That leaves the Leinster starting team looking like this:
Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden. Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Dave Kearney; Jimmy Gopperth, Isaac Boss; Jack McGrath, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross, Leo Cullen (capt.), Mike McCarthy; Sean O’Brien, Jordi Murphy, Jamie Heaslip.
Meanwhile, down in Thomond Park, the starting XVs look this way:
Munster: Felix Jones, Gerhard Van Den Heever, Casey Laulala, James Downey, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; Dave Kilcoyne, Damien Varley (capt.), John Ryan; Dave Foley, Paul O’Connell; Paddy Butler, Sean Dougall, James Coughlan.
Ulster: Craig Gilroy; David McIlwaine, Mike Allen, Stuart McCloskey, Rory Scholes; James McKinney, Michael Heaney; Callum Black, Rob Herring, Andrew Warwick; Lewis Stevenson, Dan Tuohy (capt.); Mike McComish, Sean Doyle, Nick Williams.
Mark Anscombe and Anthony Foley were in friendly form a little earlier. How do you see this inter-pro going?
Finally, the Connacht team that will face the Ospreys over in the Liberty Stadium:
Darragh Leader; Danie Poolman, Eoin Griffin, Dave McSharry, Matt Healy; Miah Nikora, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Ronan Loughney, Aly Muldowney, Mick Kearney; Andrew Browne, Conor Gilsenan, John Muldoon (c).
Well worth keeping a close eye on the action in Scotstoun, where an unlikely defeat for the in-form Glasgow against Zebre would mean a Munster win versus Ulster would earn Rob Penney’s men a home semi-final.
However, Gregor Townsend’s Warriors side will have their sights set on a big win in the equally unlikely event that Leinster slip up at home to Edinburgh.
BBC Wales are highlighting this pair as the players most likely to do damage to Connacht’s chances against the Ospreys.
We’re entirely in agreement with TheScore.ie reader Dave Fingleton on this front:
Great to see Sean O’Brien back..lets all hope that the shoulder is 100% and we can all look forward to Seanie being back to his barrelling best..what a massive loss he has been..
The teams are arriving out on the pitch now in most venues, last chance for predictions as to how the provinces will get on. We’re going with wins for Munster and Leinster, with a narrow loss for Connacht away from home.
And we’re off! The action is underway for Connacht and Munster v Ulster, with Leinster just about to kick off.
Big linebreak from Casey Laulala for Munster! The ball finds its way to van den Heever wide on the right but he’s tackled into touch. Great start for Penney’s men against Ulster!
Connacht have won an early scrum penalty against the Ospreys and will have a shot at goal from around 23 metres out, on the left-hand side. Nikora preparing himself at Liberty Stadium…
In Thomond Park, Munster’s period of pressure lets up as they concede a penalty for coming on the side of a ruck. McKinney takes the chance to kick clear.
PENALTY! Ospreys 0-3 Connacht (Nikora ’4)
Glasgow have scored an early try against Zebre, with Stuart Hogg crossing. Not good for Munster!
Leinster still 0-0 at the RDS after 3 minutes of action in the Edinburgh half of the field.
And now Edinburgh have won a penalty on the Leinster 22-metre line, out on the left. Laidlaw is standing over this one…
PENALTY! Leinster 0-3 Edinburgh (Laidlaw ’6)
A lovely kick out of hand by Ian Keatley brings Munster deep into Ulster territory, just as Sean O’Brien goes on the rampage for Leinster. Defenders dragging off the powerful back row, a great sight!
Oooh! The Ospreys go close against Connacht, bursting down the left-hand side of the pitch through Tipuric. However, the flanker’s pass doesn’t go to hand and it’s a let off for Lam’s men.
There’s been another try for Glasgow over in Scotstoun as Ryan Grant scores under the sticks. Duncan Weir converts and the Scots lead Zebre 14-0.
TRY! Leinster 5-3 Edinburgh (Jordi Murphy ’10)
The flanker bursts over after excellent Leinster attack!
TRY! Ospreys 5-3 Connacht (Hassler ’12)
CONVERSION! Ospreys 7-3 Connacht (Biggar ’13)
Hassler broke away down that same left-hand side to score for the Ospreys against Connacht, all stemming from a wonderful steal on the deck from Dan Biggar. Meanwhile, some interlinking attacking play from Leinster saw their solid start topped off with Murphy’s try.
TRY! Munster 8-0 Ulster (Williams ’14)
Brilliant score as Downey, Coughlan, Laulala and Williams are all involved, ending with the scrum-half dotting down in the left-hand corner!
CONVERSION! Munster 10-0 Ulster (Keatley ’15)
TRY! Ospreys 7-8 Connacht (Leader ’17)
Superb stuff as Nikora’s cross-field kick is passed back inside by Poolman for Leader to dive over. Wonderful creativity and invention with the boot!
A shot of BOD in action at the RDS against Edinburgh, where Leinster are still 5-3 up.
The scrum-half darts down the right, exchanges passes with Allen and bounces over!
CONVERSION! Munster 10-7 Ulster (McKinney ’18)
We’re with the TMO at the RDS, after Edinburgh cross in the right-hand corner… No try! There was a forward pass to Matt Scott in the build-up and Leinster stay in front.
Another try for Glasgow, this time through Kellock. They now lead 21-0, so no favours there for Munster.
And another try for Glasgow as Hogg scores again. That’s the bonus point wrapped up for Townsend’s men already. They really are an impressive side. Not going to be an easy test for Munster away from home.
Here’s Duncan Williams crossing after that excellent Munster attack…
Leinster are on the attack at the RDS, with D’Arcy carrying strongly. Over in the Liberty Stadium, Connacht are under pressure inside their own half as Hassler breaks again…
TRY! Ospreys 12-8 Connacht (Beck ’27)
CONVERSION! Ospreys 14-8 Connacht (Biggar ’27)
That all came from the running ability of Hassler again, as he cut through some weak Connacht tackles inside the Irish province’s 22 and then when the ball was recycled, Beck scooted over untouched in the right-hand corner. Nice conversion from Biggar.
Here’s the try that has Leinster in the lead at the RDS. They’re looking less than sharp at the moment as Edinburgh have grown into the game.
TheScore.ie reader Eamonn Coughlan not beating around the bush here:
Munster are septic first half!
As things stand, Glasgow would finish top of the table, pushing Leinster into second position. That would mean Matt O’Connor’s men would welcome Munster to the RDS in the semi-finals, while Ulster would travel to play the Warriors.
What would you think of those pairings?
This photo sums up some of the Ospreys attack in the first half against Connacht as proceedings get back underway at Liberty Stadium. Nikora restarts that game…
Connacht attack down the left-side of the pitch through the lively Leader, but then Heffernan spills the ball forward in contact. Disappointing end to that attack, although the Irish hooker feels he was tackled before catching the ball…
Word from Thomond Park is that Nick Williams has damaged medial ligaments in his knee. Big loss for Ulster ahead of the semi-finals if that is confirmed by the province.
Odd moment over in Glasgow at the end of this try. Hogg’s reaction is not something we’ve seen a whole lot of before…
The Welsh international bursts right through the middle of Connacht’s defence and rushes past Marmion to score.
CONVERSION! Ospreys 31-15 Connacht (Biggar ’46)
Leinster are back underway at the RDS and look a lot more fired up as they start on the attack. A knock-on in the Scots’ 22 ends the first wave of attack though. We’re also back in action at Thomond Park…
Leinster back on the front foot and looking dangerous!
Ah frustrating end to that passage again! O’Driscoll attempts the pass between the legs, but it shouldn’t have come to that. Kearney knocks on as he attempts to gather down low. Simple execution of draw and pass has let Leinster down repeatedly in recent times.
Robbie Henshaw is on in the centre for Connacht and they’ll look for an attacking spark from the Ireland international. What can he create with his power and direct running?
O’Connell goes off his feet in Thomond Park, leading to a penalty for Ulster around 45 metres out. McKinney is confident enough to call for the tee here…
PENALTY! Munster 10-13 Ulster (McKinney ’47)
Booming effort and Ulster lead for the first time in Limerick!
Leinster continue to pile pressure on the Edinburgh defence, with Kearney going close this time. The fullback is held up though, so they’ll have to go again…
TRY! Munster 15-13 Ulster (Dougall ’48)
Turnover ball from the restart, then Keatley grubbers through and Dougall pounces with the ball bouncing around the in-goal area!
CONVERSION! Munster 17-13 Ulster (Keatley ’48)
Lovely strike from wide on the left, kept it nice and low.
Finally Leinster win a penalty as their pressure tells and Edinburgh infringe at the ruck. Gopperth lining up the penalty in front of the posts…
PENALTY! Leinster 8-6 Edinburgh (Gopperth ’52)
And with that, Sean O’Brien’s evening is over. Great to see him back and looking strong.
PENALTY! Munster 17-16 Ulster (McKinney ’53)
Another excellent strike from the young out-half, who is off to Rotherham next season. Zebo goes off for Munster, looked in a little pain there.
Best video of the evening so far?
TheScore.ie reader Brian O’Connor may be on the money here:
It looks like all the teams have the semi-finals in the back of their minds.
Munster looking threatening in the Ulster 22 after Murray carries from the scrum platform. Building the phases now…
Penalty to Munster after that bout of pressure in attack. Ulster’s defenders forced into infringing at the rucks. Some discussions taking place with Nigel Owens now. Munster opt for the scrum metres out from the visitors’ tryline…
Catch up on that Dave Kearney try for Leinster right here:
Ulster have survived that assault from the Munster attack and will now look to clear their lines as they have the feed to the scrum. This is some performance from the second-string Ulstermen.
Meanwhile, in the Liberty Stadium, Connacht are attempting to build a consolation score. Leinsterare back on the attack in the RDS too, but there’s another knock-on as they go into contact.
FULL TIME! Ospreys 45-20 Connacht
Convincing win for the Welsh side, who finish the season fifth in the Pro12.
Edinburgh get their hands back on the ball with around five minutes remaining in the RDS. They will attack from a scrum wide on the right, 10 metres inside the Leinster half…
In Limerick, it’s Munster who are in possession. Hanrahan comes up with a cross-field kick and Dave Foley does wonderfully to claim it on the bounce. However, the lock then spills it forward when he hits the deck and Ulster will have a put-in to the scrum.
Back in Dublin, Leinster have survived that Edinburgh attack and win a penalty at the breakdown. Ian Madigan is on for a brief cameo, while Luke McGrath is on at scrum-half. A great prospect.
The scoreline from Glasgow you ask? 54-0…
Matt O’Connor’s men are back up to the Edinburgh 22 following two penalties kicked to touch. McGrath is bossing play around the fringes as Leinster look to close out their win in the final minutes of the game.
FULL TIME! Leinster 15-13 Edinburgh
A win is a win, and O’Connor’s men finish top of the table. They’ll be looking for much better against Ulster in the semi-final.
Ooooo! Hanrahan goes very close with a last-minute drop goal attempt! Slips to the left of the sticks and still Munster trail. Just 30 second left on the clock!
Earls runs the restart back at Ulster, but Munster lose possession and now Ulster only need to kick the ball out of play after winning the scrum…
PENALTY against Ulster! At the scrum, looks like there was hands in there. Ulster thought they had it won after kicking the ball out…
Hanrahan is going to have a go from the halfway line!
So let us know what you made of the provinces’ performances this evening. That’s all we have time for on the liveblog, so thanks for joining us. We’re already looking forward to the semi-finals next weekend. Cheers!
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