Tuesday 21 November 2017

Ulster win sees Pienaar leave on high

Pienaar is set to join Montpellier after spending seven season with Ulster. Photo: Sportsfile
Pienaar is set to join Montpellier after spending seven season with Ulster. Photo: Sportsfile
Brendan Fanning

Brendan Fanning

Leinster finished the regulation phase of the Guinness PRO12 in second place - but with a home draw in the semi-final, against Scarlets - after they lost before a full house at Kingspan Stadium and Munster crushed Connacht in Limerick.

Leinster's semi will be in the RDS on Friday week, May 19, with Munster taking on Ospreys in Thomond Park the following afternoon. Rassie Erasmus's side put seven tries on Connacht, with substitute scrum-half Conor Murray getting through his injury return unscathed, opening the door to an all-Irish PRO12 final in the Aviva Stadium on May 27.

The Kingspan game was dominated by the exit of Springbok Ruan Pienaar. In his seven seasons in Belfast he has been a huge influence on the squad, and leaves now because the IRFU want his place freed up to an Ireland-qualified player.

"I'm just happy to get the win and it was a special way to do it," he said. "I want to thank the fans for the last seven years. As you can see it's a special place and I'm sad to leave, but at least we're leaving on a high and that's probably the only positive."

Number eight Roger Wilson was also heading for the exit, and signed off with a man of the match performance in what was a forgettable game.

On a poor enough day for Leinster coach Leo Cullen reported no injuries ahead of the semi-final. "You want to get a home semi-final - that's the aim," he said. "But knowing for the last couple of weeks that we had that home semi-final - I think that affected the mentality of our players."

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