Tuesday 15 October 2019

Leinster finish on a high with victory in Glasgow's backyard

Jonathan Sexton celebrates after Leinster’s victory over Glasgow Warriors in the PRO14 final at Celtic Park. Photo: Ross Parker/Sportsfile
Jonathan Sexton celebrates after Leinster’s victory over Glasgow Warriors in the PRO14 final at Celtic Park. Photo: Ross Parker/Sportsfile
Brendan Fanning

Brendan Fanning

The PRO14 got an occasion worthy of a final with a great atmosphere and a game that was in the balance to the end in Glasgow last night. But the majority of a record crowd of 47,128 were baying for a home win to back up their only previous title victory, over Munster in 2016.

Instead, they had to stand back as Leinster mounted the podium again, their 10th major competition won between European and Celtic rugby since 2008. Having won the Champions Cup and Guinness Pro14 last season, returning for one half of that double topped off another fine season.

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If the rain shaped and limited the game then still it was compelling, and eventful. And controversial. Rob Kearney was lucky not to see red when he upended Glasgow fullback Stuart Hogg in the air. Hogg bounced his head off the ground and was taken off, not to return.

"Yeah look, those decisions seem different every time," Glasgow coach Dave Rennie said. "The telling thing for us was that we lost Hoggy. The officials called it as they saw it. I'm sure there'll be some debate about it to come. I'm not going to comment on it. One week it's a red, another week it's a yellow. Hoggy was ruled out immediately before he got off the ground."

As for Leo Cullen, he saw things slightly different.

"When he's chasing, eyes on the ball - there's a collision in the air," Cullen said afterwards. "Fifteen minutes to go and he's off for 10 of those. We got him back on for the last four or five minutes. There were probably one or two other incidents in the first half that you could have looked at as well.

"It wasn't the prettiest of games - I thought the players applied themselves very well over the last number of weeks. For the most part of that second half I thought we played that territory very well.

"It was a real privilege for our guys to be here. The game itself? I thought we had some chances early on but didn't quite take them. I thought there were two teams going at it with such commitment, giving it everything they had.

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"And you could see what it means to Glasgow with the support they had throughout the game. They were pretty outstanding in their semi-final last weekend against Ulster so it was never going to be easy for our guys. You could see how tight it was as a game. And we're delighted to get the win."

For captain Johnny Sexton it was another happy ending to a Leinster season.

"We've been in three finals in the last two seasons and it was great to come away with three wins," he says. "It's a lot better than two from four and it's a good way to start your holidays."

Before he goes anywhere, there is a reunion midweek for the Heineken Cup-winning side of 2009, the one that started it all. There is no sign of them pulling up just yet.

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