Home advantage can help Blues ground Ospreys

Des Berry

RECENT form and plain common sense dictate that Leinster will find the Ospreys in the Rabodirect PRO12 League final a far greater challenge than Ulster in the Heineken Cup final.

Whereas Ulster had beaten Leinster once in their previous 16 encounters before last Saturday, the Ospreys won both league matches at Liberty Stadium and the RDS.

Certainly, Leinster will not be found short of motivation or focus, mainly because they were in this exact position last season and blew it at Thomond Park.

The first seeds and two-time PRO12 winners have been beaten in each of the last two finals, and by the self same Ospreys in 2010, winning just one of their last five meetings with the Welsh side.

For their part, the Ospreys are hunting a fourth PRO12 League title following on from 2005, 2007 and latterly, 2010.

Coach Steve Tandy's men have won their last half-dozen matches and have been beaten just once by an Irish province all season - 15-14 away to Ulster in February, doing the double over Connacht, Munster and Leinster.

They will bring a gnarled pack of forwards capable of doing untold damage in the scrum where British & Irish Lions tight-head Adam Jones is their arrowhead and Paul James a significant loose-head.

It will also come as no surprise to see them making life difficult for Leinster at the lineout, where the home side will have to activate the variety that kept Ulster off balance in that area.

This should be a cracking contest given the way both clubs like to make use of space to get their elusive runners onto the ball, rather than aiming to tie the opposition up in knots in the tight.

Leinster have home advantage, the bitter taste of falling short in their bid for the double in 2011, and a reasonable amount of time to recover and prepare.

The Ospreys spoiled the party at the grand final in the RDS in 2010 and Leinster will not want this to tarnish what has otherwise been a triumphant season.

Verdict: Leinster