Leinster v Ulster

Leo Cullen's side welcome back a number of internationals as they hope to recover from Munster loss

Patrick Madden Sat, Dec 31
LIVE: Leinster v Ulster

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  • 14:49

    Good afternoon!

    2016 draws to a close today with two inter-provincial Pro 12 fixtures.

    This evening champions Connacht - undoubtedly one of the sporting stories of the year - take on the resurgent Munster at the Sportsground.

    But first up a strong Leinster side welcome Ulster to a packed out RDS.

    We'll be bringing you all the action from Dublin and Galway, so get settled and put your feet up before hitting the tiles tonight.

    It may not have been a vintage year in many respects, but it's not been too bad for Irish rugby.

    Here's to seeing it out with a bang.

    Come on!

  • 14:51

    LEINSTER: Isa Nacewa (capt); Adam Byrne, Garry Ringrose, Noel Reid, Rory O’Loughlin; Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath; Jack McGrath, Seán Cronin, Michael Bent; Devin Toner, Hayden Triggs; Seán O’Brien, Josh van der Flier, Jamie Heaslip. Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Andrew Porter, Jeremy Loughman, Mick Kearney, Jack Conan, Jamison Gibson-Park, Tom Daly, Zane Kirchner.

    ULSTER: Charles Piutau; Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Stuart McCloskey, Tommy Bowe; Ruan Pienaar, Paul Marshall; Andy Warwick, Rob Herring (capt), Rodney Ah You, Kieran Treadwell, Franco van der Merwe; Clive Ross, Seán Reidy, Roger Wilson. Replacements: John Andrew, Calum Black, Jonny Simpson, Pete Browne, Chris Henry, Brett Herron, Louis Ludik, Jacob Stockdale.

  • 14:58

    Leo Cullen has welcomed back his big guns up front today after Leinster's Stephen's Day defeat to Munster. Sean O'Brien, Josh van der Flier and Jamie Heaslip form a formidable backrow full of ball carrying ballast. There's still no sign of Johnny Sexton though and Ross Byrne retains the number 10 jersey.

    Today is a stern task for Ulster, but Andrew Trimble is back in the saddle after recovering from the foot injury he sustained during Ireland's autumn campaign - while Ruan Pienaar will pull the strings at 10.

  • 15:01
    We're underway at the RDS!
  • 15:03

    1 min: Early ball in hand for Leinster, building the phases. A great step from Cronin builds momentum but good work at the base from the visitors earns them a penalty.

    It's a long way out but with the wind behind him Pienaar is going to have a pop. It's five metres inside the Leinster half, ane he pulls it.

  • 15:04
    3 min: Paul Marshall boxkicks and it's loose, floating straight out on the full. Leinster lineout on their 10 and they get quick ball off the top courtesy of Toner.
  • 15:06
    4 min: Leinster build into the Ulster half, Heaslip making a booming carry up to the 10. Van der flier carries and Luke McGrath picks and kicks in behind, the ball bobbling out for a good touch.
  • 15:06
  • 15:09

    Lovely score from Rory O'Loughlin. He takes a short ball from Ross Byrne inside his own half and breaks the line, before turning on the gas and arcing his run past the cover and diving over on the left.  

    Nacewa converts.


  • 15:11
    9 min: Ulster have a chance to get straight back on the board after Leinster are penalised just outside their 22. Should be straightforward for Pienaar but he snatches at it and it skews wide.
  • 15:13
    11 min: Leinster lineout on the Ulster 22 and Cronin hits Triggs at the front. They try and set the maul but Ulster hold it up well and the ball is moved. The ball is moved to Nacewa who kicks in behind but gets too much on it. Play will come back for a Leinster penalty, which is kicked into the corner.
  • 15:14
    13 min: The ball is spilled forward at the lineout. Ulster win the scrum infield and Pienaar lumps it clear - but Leinster come running straight back.
  • 15:16
    14 min: Leinster possession in Ulster territory and Ross Byrne works a loop with Triggs in midfield before trying to find namesake Adam on the right wing - Tommy Bowe is inches from intercepting. Lucky boy.
  • 15:18

    16 min: Ulster's defence is looking very ragged at the moment. Reid spies acres of space on the right and loops it out to Cronin on the wing, who darts back inside and is met with a high tackle.

    Penalty Leinster, and Nacewa slots is comfortably from the right.


  • 15:20
    18 min: What a chance for Bowe! O'Brien spills it from the restart and it bounces perfectly into the path of the Ireland winger - but he fumbles it with the line at his mercy. Ulster can ill afford to pass up opportunities like that.
  • 15:22
    20 min: Ulster put the squeeze on a Leinster scrum and then turn it over. They have it in the Leinster 22 but Ah You spills forward after mistiming his run onto a short one. Another chance gone.
  • 15:24
    22 min: Brilliant carry in midfield from McCloskey but good work from opposite number Reid sees him turn it over.  
  • 15:28
    25 min: Excellent tackle from Trimble on Nacewa who was thundering inside on a good line. Leinster enjoying plenty of ball inside the Ulster half but they're gradually forced back and the ball slows down. Reid tries to force it and his pass goes loose.
  • 15:29
    26 min: O'Loughlin covers a kick inside his 22 but sees his clearance half-blocked by Trimble. He does well to recover, though.
  • 15:31
    27 min: Lovely Leinster break - all started by a loop inside their own 10-metre by locks Toner and Triggs. It's moved left and O'Brien thunders up to the Leinster 22. He has Ringrose and O'Loughlin either side - but runs straight into Piutau instead. Good scramble defence from Ulster.
  • 15:31
  • 15:36

    30 min: Sustained possession for Leinster in and around halfway but the ball is very slow. They force a penalty on halfway which is kicked into touch.


  • 15:36
  • 15:39

    Cute, and clearly scripted, work at the front of the lineout from Leinster. Cronin hits Jack McGrath short and he pops off to Luke McGrath who scampers down the shortside to score. Non-existant Ulster defence.

    Another lovely kick from Nacewa extends the lead.  


  • 15:43
    37 min: Leinster have been very dominant here, Ulster unable to engineer anything with the scraps of possession they've enjoyed. Piutau enjoys a rare run from deep and fends off O'Loughlin with a huge hand but is scragged by the cover.
  • 15:44
    39 min: Ulster make a rare foray into the home 22 but Piutau spills forward after a good tackle by Van der flier, who had good cover from O'Loughlin.
  • 15:45
  • 15:57
  • 15:58
    The teams are back out for the second half. Ulster need a big response.
  • 15:59
    41 min: Good early attacking platform for Leinster who have a scrum just inside the Ulster 22. They move it left and Reid spins neatly in midfield.
  • 15:59
  • 16:01

    A second for O'Loughlin - and it's far too easy for Leinster. They move it smoothly left and Ross Byrne stabs it in behind for O'Loughlin who collects and dives over.

    Nacewa hooks a difficult kick.


  • 16:02
    44 min: Ulster have made far too many errors when they have finally got their hands on it, this time Ah You mistiming a shortball to Warwick and seeing it spill loose.
  • 16:05
    46 min: Leinster threatening again, mauling into the 22 before being told to move it. They do so and Adam Byrne comes inside on a big line but is tackled well.
  • 16:07
    48 min: Brightest spell for Ulster this half, Cave making a good half break and slipping it to Pienaar who dummies and carries before dinking in behind. Good chase and O'Loughlin skews his clearance kick.
  • 16:08
    49 min: Toner pinged at the lineout and Pienaar stick it into the corner. Big chance.
  • 16:09
    50 min: And it's a chance spurned - Leinster scrum on the five.
  • 16:10
  • 16:13
    53 min: Trimble nearly spills a clearance from Ross Byrne but recovers and feeds Piutau. O'Brien is then penalised for coming in off his feet. After a quick break for an injury to Wilson - who is replaced by Henry - Pienaar kicks into the corner.
  • 16:14
    54 min: Van der Merwe wins the lineout and Ulster set the maul which is brought down just shy of the five metre. Penalty - back into the corner.
  • 16:15
    54 min: Ulster win the lineout and the maul is just held up - but they are camped on the Leinster line.
  • 16:16
    55 min: Ulster are hammering away - Cave is just held up by an excellent tackle from Luke McGrath. Scrambling defence from Leinster - and Jack McGrath is sent to the bin for coming in off his feet.
  • 16:19
    57 min: Frantic passage of play. Ulster win their scrum and move it left, the ball coming to Piutau who muscles out of a tackle and tries to loop it to the wing only for Nacewa to nearly intercept. He hacks it upfield and Ulster cover back.
  • 16:21
    59 min: Ulster have had 72% of the possession this half but are yet to get on the board.
  • 16:21
  • 16:22
  • 16:22
  • 16:27
    64 min: Great chance for Ulster after Piutau rolls, steps and breaks and finds Reidy, but he doesn't have the pace to streak clear. Sustained pressure from Ulster, but Ringrose makes a huge hit and the ball is spilled forward.
  • 16:29
  • 16:30
    66 min: Neat work from Leinster in midfield, the ball being worked to Reid who sends a cute grubber into touch on the right.
  • 16:32
    67 min: Jack McGrath trundles back off after his spell on the naughty step. Ulster unable to make their man advantage count.
  • 16:34
    69 min: New man Kirchner overcooks a kick and Pienaar watches it out on the full. Ulster lineout in the host's 22. It's won by Van der Merwe but Leinster slow the ball down before turning it over on the left.
  • 16:38
    73 min: Again good lineout ball for Ulster on the right and they move it left, Cave making a good carry. But then in the next phase Ringrose makes yet another excellent read and hit and the ball goes loose.
  • 16:40
    TRY ULSTER!!!!!
  • 16:42

    Ulster finally make their pressure tell. Pienaar picks from the base and dummies before switching back inside to Piutau who is through the gap and charges over.

    Pienaar converts.

    77 MIN: LEINSTER 22 ULSTER 7  

  • 16:45
    79 min: Double try scorer O'Loughlin gets man of the match.
  • 16:45
  • 16:50

    Right, thanks for joining. Not a game which will live long in the memory, but a big win for Leinster.

    I'm making the quick journey from Dublin to Galway (virtually) and will be bringing you all of the action from the Sportsground in 15 mins or so.

    See you there!