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As it happened: Ulster v Leinster, RaboDirect Pro12 Grand Final

We went minute-by-minute as the season’s ultimate inter-pro unfolded in Dublin.

This is it. The end of another long, hard season in club rugby.

This, the 24th game for both Ulster and Leinster, will decide how fondly each player can look back the season.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the game. E-mail, tweet @thescore_iepost a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

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Ulster 18 – 24 Leinster

Well, well, well well. Fancy meeting you here, rugby fans.

The anticipation is growing at the RDS for the Pro12 Grand Final between Ulster and Leinster.

Before we get into the swing of things, there is big news from Twickenham that could distract Rory Best as much as it has distracted us. Dylan Hartley has been red-carded in the Aviva Premiership final for some very, very bad language directed at referee Wayne Barnes.

Kick off  is just moments away now in Ballsbridge. Ulster have elected to take their usual away dressing room and by the looks of things their fans have indeed taken their full allocation as the RDS is divided equally into blue and white camps.

Wow. More breaking news as Rob Kearney is marked absent from Leinster’s starting XV. Nacewa moves to full back and Andrew Conway will start on the wing.

A quick reminder of the teams then as Leinster take the field, Dave Kearney is a late call to the bench in place of his brother.

Leinster XV: I Nacewa, F McFadden, B O’Driscoll, I Madigan, A Conway , J Sexton, I Boss, C Healy, R Strauss, M Ross, L Cullen (capt), D Toner, K McLaughlin, S Jennings, J Heaslip.

Replacements: S Cronin, J McGrath, J Hagan, Q Roux, R Ruddock, J Cooney, A Goodman, D Kearney .

Ulster XV: J Payne, A Trimble, D Cave, S Olding, T Bowe, P Jackson, R Pienaar; T Court, R Best, J Afoa, J Muller (capt), D Tuohy, R Diack, C Henry, N Williams.

Replacements: R Herring, C Black, D Fitzpatrick, I Henderson, M McComish, P Marshall, M Allen, P Nelson.

KICK OFF: Ulster get us underway and retain the kick-off. Darren Cave’s first act is to grubber in behind to test Nacewa’s positioning. He’s got it. And after his clearance Leinster win a break down penalty on half way.

Sexton rams the penalty into the corner and after Tom Court is called for side-entry to the ruck, he does the same again and Leinster rumble over from the line-out.

TRY! Ulster 0 – 5 Leinster (Jennings ‘ 3)

Sexton adds the extras with a tight conversion from the right. This side is hell-bent on ending their run of defeats at this stage.

Ulster 0 – 7 Leinster

Madigan carries and Rory Best in pinged for holding on. That’s four penalties John Lacey has awarded against Ulster in just over five minutes. To make matters worse, it’s right on the 22. Meat and drink for Sexton.

PENALTY: Ulster 0 -10 Leinster (Sexton ’7)

No let-up in the pace here. Nacewa’s clearance from his 22 is blocked down by Paddy Jackson, but Pienaar cannot beat Boss to the loose ball crossing the try-line.

Scrum V to Ulster.

Tom Court forces the error from Ross a scrum time and Ulster bullishly elect for another scrum. They want seven points bad.

Unreal power from a low Ulster drive. Healy this time drops and it’s another penalty and another set-piece. Hang onto your hats.

A reprieve for Leinster as the ref deems the ball to be out while it’s under Nick Williams’ feet. Boss snaffles it and Madigan smashes it clear.

Leinster escape with their score-board in tact, but what has it taken out of their pack?

Ulster will be kicking themselves for that slow start. They are showing why they ended the season as league leaders now, making Leinster work for every inch.

A break from Jackson into the 22 gives Ulster an overlap on the right. Robbie Diack has the line at his mercy, but he attempts to cut inside Sexton and gets wrapped up in a cloud of blue bodies.

Diack does touch down, but Lacey’s whistle had already blown to stop play. An outrageous miss.

Ulster rumble to the line and again look to have a good platform, but the man so often selected to play as a ninth forward, Isaac Boss, bridges in and forces the penalty under his own posts.

Nick Williams is starting to make his present felt in the hot conditions now. Healy is penalised on his 22 and a somewhat ironic cheer is drawn from the Ulster fans who feel most decisions have gone against them.

PENALTY: Ulster 3 – 10 Leinster (Pienaar ’24)

Something on the board at last then for Ulster. Leinster will need to find their rhythm again to keep them at arm’s length.

Another handful of phases end in frustration for Ulster.

Not because of a knock-on – Paddy Jackson had to pick a Pienaar pass off his boot – and definitely not because of Williams who had blue jerseys approaching cautiously: Court is adjudged to have held on after being tackled and Sexton sets the platform on Ulster’s 22.

There can be no complaints about the latest penalty against Ulster, Chris Henry slapping the ball on the ground after taking down Ian Madigan.

But Sexton misses. A shocker by his standards.

Frustration on the face of Andrew Trimble. Neither he nor Tommy Bowe have had much opportunity and both have knocked on in the past minute. Bowe’s resulted in advantage, Trimble just mis-handled what would have been a 60-metre sprint for the line.

PENALTY: Ulster 3 – 13 Leinster (Sexton ’33)

That’s more like it from Sexton, blasting an effort from half way to make up for his earlier miss.

Right back atcha as Jennings is on the wrong side of the ref’s whistle and Robbie Diack’s awful attempt at a finish remains the difference between the sides.

PENALTY: Ulster 6 – 13 Leinster (Pienaar ’36)

Leinster end the half as they started it, piling the pressure on Ulster’s line. The red hand-waving crowd behind the goal are aggrieved as another penalty is awarded with Ulster defending their five-metre line frantically.

PENALTY: Ulster 6 – 16 Leinster (Sexton ‘ 39)

HALF TIME: Ulster 6 – 16 Leinster

The second half is off and running at the RDS. Will the 10-point gap be enough to end four years of hurt for Leinster?

Ulster get Bowe into the game straight away with a big attempt at a strike in midfield, but he is wrapped up and the penalty is blue again.

Wow. Long advantage played by Lacey and Leinster given a penalty after Boss’ box-kick is marked by Pienaar.

SIN BIN: Robbie Diack pays the price for the accumulated penalty count.

PENALTY: Ulster 6 – 19 Leinster (Sexton ’44)

What a break from Paddy Jackson. The young out-half broke at the posts and then found a gap between Nacewa and Conway. The Kiwi-Fijian took him out with a horse-collar tackle and prevented a near certain try.

SIN BIN: Nacewa

PENALTY: Ulster 9 – 19 Leinster (Pienaar ’46)

It’s 14-v 14.

An ill-advised Healy offload allows Ulster kick clear and Bowe’s chase to Madigan forces a penalty as the Blackrock man holds on.

PENALTY: Ulster 12 -19 Leinster (Pienaar ‘ 51)

Game on again.

Robbie Diack is back for Ulster in time to see Conway slip and let the ball find touch deep in Leinster’s 22. Will the blues be haunted by their past three finals?

PENALTY: Ulster 15 – 19 Leinster (Pienaar ‘ 54)

It was close, but Pienaar converts after Leo Cullen is penalised from the Leinster line-out.

Where’s your money now, rugby fans?

‘Come on you boys in blue’ rings around half of the RDS after Sexton makes a blindside break to make Ulster sweat in their own 22. Boss knocks on and it’s a white scrum, but this Leinster crowd are relieved to be in the opponents’ half.

Cave’s big clearance kick from his own 22 is carried back at the white wall on half way. There Henry is called for hands in the ruck and Sexton opts for the touchline again and gets every last inch. Five mere line-out.

It must be on the line for Leinster and Heaslip. We’re with the TMO.

TRY: Ulster 15 – 24 (Heaslip ’62)

Sexton’s conversion is narrowly wide. The gap is back to nine points.

It’s all gone a bit scrappy and Leinster look more than happy with that state of affairs. They concede a penalty just inside halfway and Pienaar attempts to close the gap again.

From all of 55 metres including the angle..

PENALTY: Ulster 18 – 24 Leinster (Pienaar ‘ 69)

10 minutes, six points. Who wants a Pro12 title, lads?

Healy crosses the gain-line, but he tries to force another offload and it’s stolen by Henderson. Nacewa is penalised for hanging onto the young lock after tackling him.

From the line-out, Ulster look to have Leinster on the hind foot, but the pass to Michael Allen is knocked on by the youngster and Leinster will look to eke precious seconds from this scrum.

Penalty to Ulster and Pienaar kicks for touch instead of narrowing the gap to a single kick.

Best takes his time over the line-out and Ulster sweep from one side to the other with only a half break from Cave to show for it.

Henderson carries and conceded the penalty on the 22 metre line.Two minutes to go and it’s Leinster ball on half way.

Here comes the long-awaited Pro12 title.

They rumble on and wind the clock down to red.

FULL TIME: Ulster 18 – 24 Leinster

Leinster are Pro12 champions at the fourth time of asking. Joe Schmidt signs off from the province having won every trophy available to him.

Leo Cullen hoists Schmidt onto his team’s shoulders and bounce him in front of the crowd. It’s the happiest end he has experienced to a Leinster season.

Ulster will leave feeling aggrieved at some of the decisions from John Lacey, but they had one golden opportunity to score a try and they let it slip by.

We’ll bring you all the reaction from both camps in the coming hours, but until then enjoy the post-match whether you’re celebrating or commiserating.

Safe home.

Ulster v Leinster: 3 key battles that will decide tonight’s Pro12 Grand Final

Leinster refuse to bask in happiness as Ulster test out secret weapon

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