Sunday, May 22, 2016

Leinster and Connacht set up a fantastic final!

 Leinster’s Rhys Ruddock and Jack McGrath put the squeeze on Sean Reidy of Ulster at the RDS. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
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I went to the Leinster/Ulster match on Friday night, and got full value for money. It was exactly what you’d want from a semi-final – full blooded, lots of tries, and a game played in good spirit. I was sitting next to a large pocket of Ulster supporters, and they really added to the atmosphere – they easily won the singing contest, and there was plenty of banter. I think the key to Leinster’s win was the way they muscled up – Ulster made plenty of ground with their backs, but very little taking it up. They have a fantastic style of attack, with Paddy Jackson running at pace with a runner either side of him. And they seemed to find plenty of space at the edge of Leinster’s defence. Leinster were more efficient too, when they got into the 22 they normally came away with points. Ringrose, Sexton, Nacewa, and all the forwards had stand out matches. Bring on the final!

Then in the other match, Connacht were just superb, in Glasgow’ faces the whole match, giving them no space or time. If there was atmosphere at the Leinster match, there was atmosphere squared at the Connacht match, the noise was deafening and the passion of the crowd was second to none. Glasgow had an early set back with the loss of Finn Russell, but in truth they just couldn’t get going, Nakarawa, Strauss, Hogg, Grey, their normal game sparkers, were just shut out of the game. Bundee Aki was man of the match, and excellent value for that, but their pack was epic, and McGinty and Marmion pull the strings brilliant. It’s been a fairly tale rise for the Galwegians,  and now they’re in the final!

It was plain to see the pain for Ulster and Glasgow. The results just show that if you want to win the league, you have to finish top two.

Friday, May 20
Leinster 30 – 18 Ulster Royal Dublin Society, Dublin   
Saturday, May 21
Connacht 16 – 11 Glasgow Warriors Sportsground, Galwa

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