Wednesday 18 October 2017

The game at a glance

Man of the match

Sean O'Brien (Leinster)

Typified a championship side who are possessed of a little more than mere thrills and frills; it was his remarkable breakdown turnover that initiated his eventual try. Beast and beauty in perfect co-existence.

Magic moment

Brought to you courtesy of possibly the only player on the field capable of it -- Brian O'Driscoll's delicious offload to create the second try.

Turning point

When Ulster got yet another first-half scrum, just inside their half, Ruan Pienaar would have asked his front-row to give him a penalty shot. Instead, the front-row buckles under immense pressure. Seconds later, instead of a kick for 6-7 Ulster are 3-14 and already looking doomed.

Talking point

For all Leinster's sublime skills in the back-line, the priority for Joe Schmidt since he has arrived has been to maintain the work of Michael Cheika and Jono Gibbes in improving the forwards' skill-set. It is little coincidence that all five tries were claimed by the forwards' union.

Ref watch

At one point he berated a morose Ruan Pienaar. "I'll tell them myself, it will sound better coming from me," said the barely restrained Nigel Owens. For all his love of ego, Owens barely put a foot wrong. How could he in such a one-sided event?

Crowd watch

Leinster fans ended the evening singing "Stand up for the Leinster men". It was truly a remarkable atmosphere amongst a record final crowd of 81,744. They even ran out of Heineken in the stadium!

What they said

Brad Thorn (Leinster): "You have to care about your mates. Work ethic. Discipline. Sacrifice. Humility. Being smart. Passionate. All those things. They're great words and it's easy to say them, but it's a challenge to live by them. Leinster live them."

Paddy Jackson (Ulster):

"I don't have much time to think about this. I'm captaining the U-20s at the World Cup in June. At the start of the season, I didn't expect to be in a Heineken Cup final. I have to learn a lot from this. I made mistakes. Maybe I can be calmer kicking out of hand the next time. It's great playing against Jonny. He's so calm and he has so much time on the ball. Jonny told me to 'keep my head up'."

Statistics

It is Leinster's third title in four seasons and they are only the second club to successfully defend their title after Leicester Tigers (2001, 2002).

Leinster's 42 points were a record for a final (previous best 34 by Leicester in 2001); their five tries overtook Brive's record of four in the 1997 final; their 28-point winning margin overtook Brive's record of 19 in 1997.

Irish Independent

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