Glasgow 15 Leinster 18
Leinster have secured back-to-back Guinness PRO14 titles thanks to a 15-18 victory over Glasgow at Celtic Park.
The game was played at a frenetic pace and it boiled over at times as referee Nigel Owens dished out a yellow card a piece throughout the 80 minutes.
Due to the conditions, handling errors were frequent throughout but it only added to the chaotic nature of the game.
Overall, Leinster were the more composed side and it was this which saw them win out in the end despite a late scare when Grant Stewart crossed for a Glasgow try with a few minutes remaining.
The game began at a ridiculous pace as Glasgow Warriors put huge pressure on their opponents but crucially, couldn’t come away with any points in the opening moments as they looked to have Leinster on the rack.
A missed penalty from Johnny Sexton after six minutes was a let-off for the Warriors and they took the lead soon after when Matt Fagerson crashed over from close range. Glasgow had won a lineout on Leinster’s own throw and they kept the ball through multiple phases to get the opening try of the game which their play deserved up until that point. Adam Hastings notched the conversion to give Glasgow a 7-0 lead after 15 minutes.
Leinster responded immediately when Stuart Hogg attempted to clear his lines but his kick was blocked down by Luke McGrath. The ball fell within the try-scoring area where Garry Ringrose was first on the scene to get a hand to the ball to get his side back into the game. Sexton missed the conversion so the Warriors’ lead remained.
Glasgow almost got the third try of the game soon after when DTH van der Merwe was brought down just short of the line. A penalty advantage soon followed so Glasgow opted to take the three points on offer as Hastings kicked his side into a 10-5 lead.
With Leinster in possession in Glasgow’s half, the game was stopped due to a serious injury to Fraser Brown. The hooker looked to be in serious discomfort as he left the field on a stretcher with a worried Gregor Townsend looking on from the stands.
On the resumption, Leinster went through their first real multi-phase passage of play and it resulted in a try when Cian Healy crashed over from a metre out. Sexton landed the conversion to give his side a 10-12 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
Sexton extended Leinster’s advantage to 10-15 with four minutes remaining in the first half when he landed a long-range penalty.
Glasgow looked dangerous in the closing minutes but the Leinster defence held firm as Jordan Larmour tackled van der Merwe into touch to greet the half-time whistle.
With almost 10 minutes played in the second half, Glasgow were looking dangerous as they were making inroads into the Leinster 22. However, Garry Ringrose made a superb read which led to some sloppy ball security which eventually saw the outside centre race clear down the pitch before he offloaded to James Lowe.
Lowe was brought to ground but the Warriors killed the ball at the ruck as a penalty was rewarded to Leinster and Nigel Owens issued a yellow card to Kyle Steyn.
From the resulting penalty, Leinster kicked to the corner and although their maul was stopped by their opponents, they won another penalty just short of the Glasgow line and Leinster opted to kick for the posts and Sexton extended his side’s lead to 10-18.
Leinster suffered a blow with 15 minutes remaining when Rob Kearney went to the sin bin for colliding with Stuart Hogg in the air.
Leinster looked to have managed that period superbly but one Glasgow attack in the Leinster 22 saw Grant Stewart cross over in the corner.
Crucially, Hastings was wide with his conversion attempt which meant Leinster held a 15-18 lead going into the final few minutes.
Glasgow had one last period of possession but like many times throughout the game, they knocked the ball forward which allowed Leinster to play out the clock to secure back-to-back titles.
Leinster: Rob Kearney; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (Byrne 53′) (capt), Luke McGrath (McCarthy 78′); Cian Healy (E Byrne 63′), Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong; Scott Fardy, James Ryan; Rhys Ruddock (Molony 79′), Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.
Replacements: Bryan Byrne, Ed Byrne, Andrew Porter, Ross Molony, Max Deegan, Nick McCarthy, Ross Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin.
Glasgow Warriors: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Kyle Steyn, Sam Johnson (P Horne 55′), DTH van der Merwe, Adam Hastings, Ali Price (G Horne 57′), Jamie Bhatti (Kebble 52′), Fraser Brown (Stewart 26′), Zander Fagerson (Siua Halanukonuka 57′), Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray, Rob Harley (Wilson 52′), Callum Gibbins, Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: Grant Stewart, Oli Kebble, Siua Halnukonuka, Ryan Wilson, Tom Gordon, George Horne, Pete Horne, Huw Jones.