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Dublin: 12°C Thursday 22 April 2021


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A very, very good evening to you all and welcome to our liveblog for tonight’s Guinness Pro14 final.

The final ordinarily comes at the end of a long, hard season, but we’ve been waiting for this decider for all of about three weeks.

It’s just the fourth all-Irish Pro14 final, though, and Ulster will surely dig their claws in to make Leinster work to extend their astonishing 24-match winning streak.

Kick-off is under half an hour away now, so get settled in.

Both teams made some big, big selection calls yesterday. Here are your teams for tonight.

Iain Henderson and James Ryan will square off after they each made rapid recoveries from respective hip and shoulder surgeries.

Johnny Sexton and John Cooney are both moved to the bench. Both coaches are setting up for a big finish.


15. Jordan Larmour
14. Hugo Keenan
13. Garry Ringrose (Captain)
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. James Lowe
10. Ross Byrne
9. Jamison Gibson-Park

1. Cian Healy
2. Ronan Kelleher
3. Andrew Porter
4. Devin Toner
5. James Ryan
6. Caelan Doris
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Jack Conan


16. James Tracy
17. Ed Byrne
18. Michael Bent
19. Scott Fardy
20. Will Connors
21. Luke McGrath
22. Johnny Sexton
23. Rory O’Loughlin


15. Michael Lowry
14. Rob Lyttle
13. James Hume
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. Jacob Stockdale
10 Billy Burns
9. Alby Mathewson

1. Eric O’Sullivan
2. Rob Herring
3. Tom O’Toole
4. Alan O’Connor
5. Iain Henderson (captain)
6. Matthew Rea
7. Sean Reidy
8. Marcell Coetzee

16.John Andrew
17. Jack McGrath
18. Marty Moore
19. Sam Carter
20. Jordi Murphy
21. John Cooney
22. Ian Madigan
23. Nick Timoney

The teams are out at the Aviva Stadium. Neither led by captains we expected this time last week. Garry Ringrose and Iain Henderson will hope to inspire their teams through 80 minutes today.


KICK-OFF: Billy Burns starts us off, Devin Toner is the safe pair of hands at the other end.

Ross Byrne kicks a high clearing effort and it’s knocked on by a white shirt on the way down.

Ulster’s defence shoots up well to contain Leinster’s short side attack off that scrum. Gibson-Park kicks a high bomb and this time Ulster deal with it well, returning fire through Matthewson.


Sensational opening try from young James Hume. Stuart McCloskey makes the initial inroads. He can’t get the offload away, but Ulster reload quickly and manufacture the break for the young centre, getting around Kelleher and then holding off James Lowe to complete a powerful finish.

Burns doesn’t manage to nail the conversion. So the gap remains at 5.


Another big skirmish win for Ulster as Leinster try to respond with venom. They’re met by an angry white wall of defence and Ross Byrne is forced into a loose kick outside the 22. Lyttle watches it sail out on the full.


Stout defence continues from Ulster, but they need it because they’re struggling to find a route away from their own territory.

Byrne’s kicks haven’t been on the money, but they haven’t given Ulster huge reprieves either.


The pressure became too much. Leinster set themselves for attack with a 22-metre line-out and after initally raiding wide the big carriers come to support and bring the line within reach.

Gibson-Park hits Lowe on the left wing, Lyttle reached for an intercept but the Kiwis had navigated around him.

Byrne nails the conversion and the champions are in front.

Leinster 7 Ulster 5


Oh, Leinster look like a poked bear at the minute. Very sharp moved off set-piece, quickly looking to pierce Ulster out wide. The latest attack coming with one of Ringrose’s clever kicks in behind that forces Lyttle to scramble.

The Leinster cheers are raucous as Burns’ clearance is sliced to touch.


Angry bears can still be vulnerable – see Anthony Hopkins’ back catalogue of movies – Ulster hit back well as they steal the line-out and then Stockdale comes up with a terrific aerial win in midfield.

They’re up to the Leinster 22 and the attacking rhythm is just picking up pace when and error comes and Ringrose hacks it away.

There’s a big injury concern for Ulster. Rob Herring seems to have taken a concussive blow and John Andrew, one of six forwards on Ulster’s bench, is an early entrant from the sidelines.


The break in play certainly didn’t hamper Leinster, they set up a maul in Ulster’s territory and force a penalty. Captain Ringrose motions for a kick to the corner.

Flag 35Mins

Penalty! Leinster 10 Ulster 5 (Byrne ’25)

Second penalty in the 22 is more central and Ringrose directs Byrne to the uprights to give the hosts a five-point lead.


Ulster haven’t been able to sustain their early pace, but they’re not letting Leinster have it their own way either.

Conan penalised at a ruck despite good Leinster line-speed. Penalty might have been within range for Cooney, but Burns drills to the corner.


There’s the big Saracens-esque roar from Leinster again as Andrew Porter forces a penalty out of James Hume. Thus ends Ulster’s best spell of attacking pressure and Byrne clears the ball 30 metres.


Rob Lyttle does brilliantly to fling himself at a Mathewson box kick and help Ulster regain what seemed a lost ball.

Reidy carries two phases later and Conan is penalised again by Andrew Brace. The penalty is on the 10 metre line, again you have to feel it’s within range for a John Cooney, but he’s sidelined so Ulster have to attack from line-out in the 22 against the meanest defence around.


Well now, Healy is pinged at the line-out and Burns again goes to the corner with the posts well within his range. Big call.


Ulster send their big carriers at Leinster and they are stopped in their tracks. Burns looks to go wide, but his pass is poor. Low at James Hume’s feet and the centre can’t avoid knocking on, despite how it looked from a wide angle.

Munster couldn’t take their kicking chances against Leinster last week. Ulster won’t.


andy-farrell-attends-the-game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Andy Farrell has his mask on this week. Shame he didn’t remember to bring a nice IRFU-branded one. Next time, coach.

The Second half is ready for the off.

Flag 43Mins

Penalty! Leinster 13 Ulster 5 (Byrne ’43)

Sean Reidy gets pulled up for tackling Ringrose without the ball. You feel for Reidy as Ringrose was taking a dummy line close to Byrne and the out-half dummy passed to invite the hit on his centre.

Byrne steps up and drills the penalty from 40+ metres.


That, you have the feel, is the final nail in Ulster’s hopes here. Win number 25 on the way for Leinster and a first trophy of the season as they open up a 15-point lead with 33 minutes to go.

Henshaw latches onto another poor pass by Billy Burns and gobbles up the 45 metres to the posts.


It’s time to turn to the bench for Ulster. Is it too late for their big guns John Cooney, Jack McGrath and Marty Moore to make an impact?


Lowe makes a big break down the right and it looks like Leinster are on the way again.

Ulster scramble well and force them to look wide left and Lyttle comes up with a vital intercept. It’s not clean enough to run back however.

A knock on follows and Leinster can turn the screw a little more.


Ulster again manage to stand their ground despite Leinster showing their teeth with James Lowe at the heart of a set play.

James Ryan of all people is penalised for not rolling away. Ian Madigan is poised to enter the game. It’s been a bad night for Burns and there will be calls for the Dubliner to take the 10 shirt against Toulouse next weeekend.

Not from this liveblogger, Burns is better all-round, but the calls will be there.


Harsh enough call on Byrne as he’s pinged for a high tackle after Lyttle rolled backways into him. Madigan sets up the line-out on the 22, there’s a higher tackle by Ryan on Jack McGrath in a wide ruck, but Ulster rumble on drom side to side of the 22.


Ulster manage to inch forward through McCloskey, but the penalty comes to the robust defence.

Jonny Sexton is in for last quarter of the game.

Surely some minds will turn to Saracens before long.


Suffocating. Utterly suffocating. Leinster’s defence is the dominant force of the game as we reach the hour mark. Ulster run and run the ball, but every turn is a blind alley of immovable blue jerseys.

They’re forced back over the halfway, over the 10 and Madigan is eventually forced into a loose kick. It’s a long 18 minutes ahead for the northern province. They played their part in a good first-half, but Leinster are fully-loaded and hungry to finish with a flourish.


Credit to Ulster. They are nothing if not dogged and even though this match is beyond them, they are scrapping to keep Leinster at bay, forcing a penalty when Leo Cullen’s side forced themselves within a sniff of the try-line.


Scrap, scrape and battle all you like. Leinster are an immense force to be reckoned with. At the end of his brilliant break-out season, Caelan Doris bullies his way over the line next to the posts.

Sexton adds the easy conversion.


Ulster have seven minutes to get a score, but as it stands, Leinster are on course to repeat last week’s feat and hold a team scoreless for over 70 minutes after falling behind early on.


FULL-TIME: Leinster are Pro14 champions.

It’s three-in-a-row for Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster’s side. A comprehensive victory over their provincial rivals.

A fitting way to cap an unbeaten season.

Leinster 27 Ulster 5

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Sean Farrell


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