Saturday 16 December 2017

The game at a glance

Man of the match

Jamie Heaslip

Indubitably, Heaslip. The wonder is that some of us feared in March that the No 8 simply could not maintain his searing international form. If anything, he has surpassed his own standards. "It's like having Rocky back," enthused Shane Jennings.

Magic Moment

Leinster's fourth successive win was a particularly sweet victory for Michael Cheika, who admitted that he failed to understand the peculiar niceties of the internecine inter-provincial rivalry when he first arrived five years ago.

Turning Point

When Leinster shook the sleep from their eyes in the second half, a stunningly constructed try finished by Rob Kearney secured them the match foothold, even if via merely a four-point lead, their stern defence would never relinquish.

Talking Point

Munster are either in chaotic freefall or tortuous rebuilding. To reach two semi-finals this season represents either stunning over-achievement or a singular illustration of an institution in decline. Within the camp, the introspection will be painful; without, the examination will be searing.

Manager watch

Michael Cheika seems set fair to deliver a third trophy in three seasons as he sets sail for new pastures, his lasting bequest a cultural legacy of achievement and high standards.

Tony McGahan is under severe pressure as he surveys a coaching set-up which is being severely questioned and a squad with a disproportionate amount of players past their best.

Referee Watch

Nigel Owens' presence for the Toulouse defeat allowed Leinster to absorb some of the painful lessons from that semi-final; albeit dominant in the scrums, their tight-head bored across as freely as the French did.

Crowd watch

A rocking RDS may prove to be the difference between the winning and losing of the final. Three times as many pitched up in Dublin compared to Swansea 24 hours earlier.

What next

Leinster v Ospreys, Magners League Grand Final, RDS, 6.30, May 29.

Irish Independent

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