ADVERTISEMENT
RugbyDump
REGISTER
LOGIN
ADVERTISEMENT
RugbyDump
Friday May 27, 2016

Preview of PRO12 Final between first timers Connacht and experienced Leinster

This weekend fans will make their way on planes, trains, automobiles and… ferries to Edinburgh for the Guinness PRO 12 Final at Murrayfield. This being the 15th year of Celtic rugby and 2nd year to have a fixed venue for the final.

Although the idea of a fixed venue is controversial for many, 100% of the semi-finals went the way of the home sides, showing how much home advantage can count for, so having the final at the RDS or Aviva under the old system might have been a bit unfair on Connacht.

Especially in their maiden final, the neutral venue may just suit Pat Lam’s side fine. Let’s just hope there is a decent crowd to watch these two teams duke it out for the title.

CONNACHT:

The progress Connacht have shown in the last 3 years has been remarkable. In 2013-2014 they were sitting in 10th place with only 6 wins to their name just above basement dwellers Treviso and Zebre.

The 2014-2015 season saw them push for a spot in Europe, with Scarlets just pulling ahead in the last few weeks of the league. However, a lifeline was offered with playoffs to the newly reformatted European Cup. Sadly, it proved a bridge too far with a narrow loss to Gloucester in a high scoring affair (40-32).

This season has seen Connacht qualify in their own right, only missing out in top spot due to one less victory than Leinster – both teams are tied on 73 points.

This all based on consistency, and the Pat Lam attack philosophy that has Connacht the top team for try bonus points and allowed Matt Healy to bag 9 tries this season.

But for me their player of the season must be Bundee Aki. The New Zealander has been present in 22 of Connacht’s league games this year, leading the charge from midfield. While the big fella is not shy of running through lesser mortals, he also has great footwork and is clearly a team man.

LEINSTER:

Leo Cullen has had a rough start to his first year as a head coach. The start of the season saw his side struggle with injuries and a large amount of players heading to the World Cup, leading to some inconsistent performances.

While Connacht have been able to put out more or less a consistent 23 for each game, Leo has had to do without a lot of 1st XV players, relying on the next generation to fill the gaps.

The European campaign was… a disaster. For the three-time champions to be knocked out before xmas just shows how strong English and French teams are now. At least they weren’t alone with both Munster and Ulster also failing to qualify.

The early exit has however allowed them to concentrate on the league and giving the younger players game time is really starting to pay off. Former U20 world cup player of the year nominee Gary Ringrose is growing into every game.

Unlucky not to feature in this year’s 6 Nations or selection for the summer tour to South Africa, it’s only a matter of time before he makes his international debut.

Another young player to make an impact this season is Josh van der Flier. Slotting seamlessly into the number 7 jersey for the injured Sean O’Brien, it’s unfortunate an ankle injury rules him out for the final.

SO WHO’S GOING TO WIN?

The two sides have traded wins this season in close run encounters, Leinster winning 13-0 at the RDS, and Connacht the victors at the Sportsground, 7-6.

Connacht, the best attacking side of the league, come up against the best defence.

The fairy-tale ending would be for Connacht to take the cup on Saturday evening, and after two hard fought wins over last year’s winners Glasgow, most neutrals will be rooting for them.

Leinster turned up a gear last Friday shutting Ulster out, 30-18, which was far removed from the 30-6 tanking they received up in Ravenhill two weeks before.

They are finally hitting some form, and with their experience of reaching and winning major finals versus first timers Connacht having to battle through two energy sapping matches with Glasgow, you would have to lean towards Leinster securing the 4th title.

But you never know, dreams to come true, just ask Leicester City F.C.

Tune in Sat 28th at 17:30 (live on Sky Sports & TG4) as its sure to be a cracking match

TEAMS:

CONNACHT:
15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Matt Healy, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Kieran Marmion
1 Ronan Loughney, 2 Tom McCartney, 3 Finlay Bealham, 4 Ultan Dillane, 5 Aly Muldowney, 6 Eoin McKeon, 7 Jake Heenan, 8 John Muldoon (c). Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 JP Cooney, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Andrew Browne, 20 Sean O’Brien, 21 John Cooney, 22 Shane O’Leary, 23 Peter Robb.

LEINSTER:
15 Rob Kearney, 14 Dave Kearney, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan.
1 Jack McGrath, 2 Richard Strauss, 3 Mike Ross, 4 Ross Molony, 5 Mick Kearney, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 7 Jordi Murphy, 8 Jamie Heaslip (c). Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Zane Kirchner.

PLUS: Get Complete Rugby Nutrition FREE

Our most popular workouts are back for this week only. Get your position-specific workout now by clicking below

ADVERTISEMENT

Related Articles

  • 141 WEEKS AGO

    scottish prop saves fire victim

  • 145 WEEKS AGO

    New Rugby X tournament insane

  • 173 WEEKS AGO

    Vunipola stands by his comments supporting...



ADVERTISEMENT

Great Tries

  • 1 DAY AGO

    The man who once raced a Cheetah: Bryan Habana

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Rugby X - The fastest ever variation of Rugby

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    Absolute scenes from triple threat centre

  • 6 WEEKS AGO

    Henry Arundell wonder try shows he is the real deal

  • 13 WEEKS AGO

    Watch: Blues score two STUNNING tries against Queensland Reds

View All

Big Hits & Dirty Play

  • 3 DAYS AGO

    South African Kurt-Lee Arendse receives limited ban from the game after shocking challenge

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Montage of HUGE hits and brilliant tries shows off Exeter's new signing

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Just Jonny Wilkinson smashing people

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Brawl Breaks Out At New Zealand Club Match

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Must See - High Tackle Leads To All In Brawl

View All

See It To Believe It

  • 1 DAY AGO

    The man who once raced a Cheetah: Bryan Habana

  • 1 DAY AGO

    Experience the Haka in first person

  • 5 DAYS AGO

    Foster stages assault on World Rugby headquarters

  • 6 DAYS AGO

    Pat Lambie sinks 55-metre kick to beat the All Blacks

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Rugby X - The fastest ever variation of Rugby

View All

Funnies

  • 3 DAYS AGO

    Springboks Winning On & Off The Pitch With Epic Advert

  • 4 DAYS AGO

    Rassie Erasmus Shows Off Hilarious Dance Moves

  • 5 DAYS AGO

    Foster stages assault on World Rugby headquarters

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Rugby Toughest Initiation Resurfaces

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    The Honey Badger All Time Interview

View All

Amateur

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Dubious Score Decides Result Of Rugby's Biggest Schools Fixture

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Incredible Scenes At School Boys Rugby Match

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    The Next Dominant Backrow?

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    Hilarious Club House Antics Shows Rugby Spirit

  • 8 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: South African Schools Rugby Is On Fire

View All

Player Features

  • 1 DAY AGO

    The man who once raced a Cheetah: Bryan Habana

  • 3 DAYS AGO

    South African Kurt-Lee Arendse receives limited ban from the game after shocking challenge

  • 6 DAYS AGO

    Pat Lambie sinks 55-metre kick to beat the All Blacks

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Just Jonny Wilkinson smashing people

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Ellis Genge puts on his boxing gloves ready for the new season

View All