Best Of The Weekend: Leinster Claim Fourth Crown

Leinster Rugby

Leinster

Tense Bilbao final goes Leinster’s way

Spain welcomed a top tier European final for the first time on Saturday, but it was a familiar team going up to reclaim the trophy they last won six years ago at the final whistle. For the last nine months Leinster have spearheaded an Irish assault on European rugby, dominance of which was assured with a tense 15-12 win over Racing.

For large swathes the showpiece event was a brutal, if not entirely pretty, encounter. Racing were the better side in the first half, but back and forth penalties between the excellent Teddy Iribaren and Johnny Sexton meant the sides went in level at the break. Afterwards, Leinster found slightly more flow to their game, but Racing were equal to anything the Irish side could throw at them. The French side kept edging in front before being pulled back. That was until the last few minutes, when Teddy Thomas needlessly ran a ball into touch on his own twenty-two, gifting Leinster field position from which they eked a penalty opportunity. Isa Nacewa converted the chance and Leinster seemed set. However, the Parisians had one last effort, winning the ball back and easing their way into drop goal territory. Remi Tales had the chance to level the scores and take it to extra time. He pulled it and the roar from the travelling fans told you all you needed to know.

They may not have been the better team in the final, but Leinster are deservedly back and sitting on top of Europe once again.

Gloucester fall to Blues at the death

English misery in Europe this season was exacerbated in Bilbao on Friday evening. As the last remaining Premiership team, hopes were high that Gloucester could salvage some pride, but a second half comeback from Cardiff put those ideas to bed. It started so well for the Cherry and Whites when Henry Trinder and Mark Atkinson grabbed a converted score each and a couple of penalties from Billy Twelvetrees gave them a 20-6 lead at the interval. However, Blues rallied in dramatic fashion in the second half to take home a rare Welsh European crown. They wrestled the lead 23-20 before the English side retook it and led 30-23 with minutes to go. Blues scored a try and had a conversion to level. It was missed. It seemed to be over, but with the clock dying, Gareth Anscombe had the nerve to slot a winning penalty, causing a flood of celebrations as the bench raced onto the pitch.

What happened elsewhere?

Coming back from a ten point half-time deficit, Crusaders survived a scare against the Waratahs, coming through 31-29. Sunwolves smashed the Reds 63-28, whilst there were also wins for Highlanders, Rebels, Chiefs, Hurricanes and Bulls.

Hero of the week

He wasn’t my man of the match in the final (that award would have gone to Teddy Iribaren), but Isa Nacewa gets it this week for guiding his team to yet another title. For him to kick the winning points felt somewhat appropriate.

Villain of the week

Israel Folau still seems not to have learnt his lesson. He has been causing the ARU nothing but hassle with his vocalisation of bigoted views in recent times. He has every right to believe what he wants, but as an employee of Australian Rugby, he must recognise his professional duties as well. Last chance saloon time.

Try of the week

It’s going to Mark Atkinson this week for being on the end of a wonderfully flowing team move, which was full of great support lines and began well inside Gloucester’s own half. Watch it here.

Discussion points

Is this the start of another Leinster dynasty?

Who were your players of the tournament?

Where were the finals won and lost?

Thoughts on the Israel Folau saga?

by Joe Large

11 thoughts on “Best Of The Weekend: Leinster Claim Fourth Crown

  1. Leinster have been the dominant team through most of the season, but the final was a lot more even and imo Racing were the better side on the day. Losing Machenaud and Carter prior to the game, followed swiftly by Lambie, handed Leinster the advantage, yet one they couldn’t fully capitalise on. Had these 3 players been fit, I feel Racing would’ve prevailed, though Iribaren was extremely entertaining.
    Leinster have, despite the final, laid down the marker. They have a very strong squad, with a lot of young, exciting players who will be around for a number of years now. They will continue to dominate the Pro14, with the major competition looking quite a way behind.




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    1. Yeah, they would have prevailed 21 -15 or something in an all kicking game…the rain ruined it for the neutral unfortunately. It’s a pity as both teams scored tries for fun before the final.




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      1. Certainly was hoping for more tries. It always feels less satisfying watching a match and only witnessing points through penalties.




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  2. there is a shout for villian of the week for Jerome Garces for his ruling out of Ludlows try for a forward pass that was never in a month of Sundays forward




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    1. More than just a shout Leon. He was diabolical. Not only did he disallow a superb try, he also awarded the second Cardiff try when two players, including the try scorer were clearly in front of the kicker and awarded the late penalty that won it for Cardiff despite the fact that the defender who fell on the ball had not been permitted to gain his feet as the law says should happen. I could also not see that Ludlow had done much wrong when he got yellow carded. Add to that that he was utterly inconsistent, fussy and wanted to be the star of the show, and he should not be allowed to be in charge of a top level game for a very long time. I expect to see him appointed as a Freeman of Cardiff in the near future. Not a Gloucester supporter, but they were robbed by poor officiating on this occasion.




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      1. He is certainly not one of the best referee’s out there. In general he is overly pedantic in officiating things like the scrum whilst allowing infringements in other areas of the game. Very inconsistent.




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  3. Jake fully agreed. And Leinster, though immensly physical, have become quite a boring side to watch. Very little creativity, just bosh bosh bosh. I was really wanting to see Racing win as they played by far the more entertaining rugby. But without their first choice halfbacks couldn’t get a real grip on the game. Pity.




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    1. Did they not show enough creativity in their previous 8 games for you? Games which meant they finished the tournament with the most metres made (4394), defenders beaten (215), and tries scored (36).

      Or should we look at the final, where they made more metres than Racing, more line breaks, and put together the only backs moves of note in the match, the one which ended which Nacewa being dragged down just short, or the one where Nakarawa was lucky to escape a yellow. Leinster did not play a lot of entertaining rugby in the final, sure, but neither did Racing.




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      1. Yeah, reads like another one of these part time drop in rugby fans that think the conditions were suitable for beach volleyball.

        Champions Cup 2017-2018:

        Leading Try Scorer (Club) Leinster: 30

        Just because you bothered to drop in for the final, doesn’t make you a true rugby fan, and certainly not someone to bother listening to for any kind of analysis. Scarlets and La Rochelle probably played the best “looking” rugby if that means anything to you.




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        1. Do tell us where you gained your ‘True Rugby Fan’ status? Sure many would be eager to know how to gain such an accolade.
          As for analysis, I’d suggest visiting ESPN Scrum instead of this blog which (imo) is predominantly for sharing views, commenting and debating rugby articles and news.




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