Leinster 21 Ulster 18
Leinster secured a semi-final spot against Toulouse after a narrow 21-18 win over provincial rivals Ulster at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
Ross Byrne was the star of the show with 16 points for the hosts as Ulster were looking for their only second win in Dublin in 20 years. Adam Byrne and Ross Byrne got the all important tries for Leo Cullen’s charges, one major blow was that Dan Leavy went off in what looked like a horrible injury. The Leinster win means that a an All-Irish final is of course still possible after Munster beat Edinburgh in their quarter final meeting.
The game began at ferocious pace. Iain Henderson laying down the marker with a massive tackle before the ball was turned over. Ulster got the first score of the game. It was a try. Ringrose decided to put boot to ball inside his own 22, however the kick was charged down by the onrushing Rory Best. Kieran Treadwell won the race and dived over. John Cooney kicked the resulting conversion. Ross Byrne in for the injured Johnny Sexton was soon on the scoreboard himself. Following 25 phases of some good play, Byrne checked inside stretched his arm out for a try. He kicked the conversion, but it was missed. Rory Best then departed the game after what appeared to be an ankle injury. Ulster did rally and Cooney kicked another three points after Cian Healy committed the offence. The gap was down to three when Byrne kicked three points his first successful kick of the game. Michael Coetzee was the man penalised this time. Byrne and Cooney again exchanged penalties. According to RTE Sport Ulster had 81 tackles in the first half with 42 % possession and they led 13-11 at the break.
On the resumption, Ringrose had another one of his kicks charged down, similar to that in the first half. However, this time around the ball went over the end zone. Jacob Stockdale went even closer minutes later as many thought he had another try to add to his growing list. Stockdale raced down the wing, however the TMO and the television replay shown that he dropped the ball as he was going to ground to touch the ball down. Dave Kearney put strong pressure on him in fairness though. Jack Conan who was man of the match found a way through the heart of the Ulster defence then found Adam Byrne who went over for a well taken try. Byrne kicked the conversion, 18-13 Leinster. Luke Marshall got a try on 65 minutes as he raced onto a Burns pass cut back inside and went over the whitewash Cooney missed the resulting conversion. all square 18-18.
Ross Byrne who appeared to have an injury when kicking a penalty on 72 minutes stepped up and split the posts. That turned out to be the winning kick as Leinster claimed the spoils and remain on course for another double winning season .
Leinster: Jordan Larmour, Adam Byrne, Garry Ringrose, Rory O’Loughlin, Dave Kearney; Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong; Scott Fardy, James Ryan; Rhys Ruddock (c), Sean O’Brien, Jack Conan
Replacements: J Tracy for Cronin (58), E Byrne for Healy (58), A Porter for Furlong (67), M Kearney for Leavy (63), D Leavy for O’Brien (52), J Gibson-Park for McGrath (58), McGrath for Gibson Park (HIA 65), N Reid for O’Loughlin (h/t), R Kearney for R Byrne (73)
Ulster: Michael Lowry, Robert Baloucoune, Darren Cave, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale; Billy Burns, John Cooney; Eric O’Sullivan, Rory Best (c), Marty Moore; Iain Henderson, Kieran Treadwell; Nick Timoney, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee.
Replacements: R Herring for Best (16), A Warwick for O’Sullivan (73), W Herbst for Moore (56), S Reidy for Coetzee (52), L Marshall for Cave (63), A Kernohan.
Video: BT Sport Youtube