Leinster too strong for Scarlets in Dublin

Leinster too strong for Scarlets in Dublin
Leinster's Jordan Larmour celebrates scoring his sides fourth try with Garry Ringrose. Pic: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Leinster have beaten Scarlets 40-32 in the Guinness PRO14 final at Dublin's Aviva Stadium.

Key moment: Leinster’s whirlwind of relentless pressure either side of half-time transformed a tight game into a procession. Leinster were just ahead at 14-11 before Scarlets succumbed to another blue wave of power, strong ball carriers battering down the door before James Lowe was put into the left corner after great hands by Johnny Sexton, the fly-half kicking over the extras for a strong 19-11 half-time lead. It was the same after the break as tries from Sean Cronin and a superb individual effort from Jordan Larmour made the outcome a formality after just 56 minutes.

Talking point: Leinster became the first team to complete a European Cup and domestic double after following their Champions Cup victory two weeks ago with this Guinness PRO14 win and in beating defending champions Scarlet in magnificent style there can be no doubt that Leo Cullen’s side are the best in the business, kings of Europe and now the undisputed rulers of the PRO14.

Key man: Johnny Sexton provided a masterclass at fly-half to guide Leinster to their historic European-PRO14 double, the Ireland playmaker pulling the strings and taking the blows as he put his body on the line to do his defensive duties. The highlight was a penalty he took after being high tackled, responding to the unnecessary attention with an inch-perfect kick to the right corner, from which the pack engineered a try for Sean Cronin en route to another trophy that had Sexton’s fingerprints all over it..

Ref watch: Stuart Berry’s calm, no-nonsense officiating of Leinster’s semi-final win over Munster last week and his willingness to keep the game flowing bagged the South African the reins for the first PRO14 final but this was a much more stop-start affair in the opening period, Scarlets repeatedly straying offside.

Penalties conceded: Leinster 6 Scarlets 7

Injuries: Leinster lost captain Isa Nacewa in his final game before retirement after just 18 minutes, the veteran having nursed an injured calf all through training last week while Scarflets back-row lost flanker Aaron Shingler just before half-time. Thankfully for Ireland, there were no apparent injuries to the members of Joe Schmidt’s squad heading to Australia next weekend.

Next up: Leinster bring down the curtain on a dream season for the boys in blue but there is still the small matter of a three-Test series in Australia, where a Grand Slam-winning Ireland squad backboned by the Champions Cup and PRO14 winners will meet the Wallabies in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney on June 10, 17, and 24.

Leinster completed an historic Guinness PRO14 and Champions Cup double with a free-flowing 40-32 final victory over Scarlets at the Aviva Stadium.

Leo Cullen's men ran in five tries and Jonathan Sexton kicked 13 points as they became the first Celtic side to win the domestic and European Cup titles in the same season, a feat their 2011 and 2012 predecessors failed to achieve.

Leigh Halfpenny booted Scarlets into an early 6-3 lead and Johnny McNicholl's well-taken try cancelled out a Devin Toner effort, but James Lowe's deftly-finished score on the stroke of half-time had Leinster 21-11 to the good.

Man-of-the-match Sexton stepped up as captain after injury unfortunately ended Isa Nacewa's 185th and final Leinster appearance in the 18th minute, while Scarlets also lost Aaron Shingler to a knee injury.

The Conference B table toppers put the game beyond Scarlets' reach with third quarter tries from Sean Cronin and Jordan Larmour, coupled with a further score from Jack Conan.

Time ran out on the defending champions' late comeback, although the classy McNicholl finished with a hat-trick and replacement prop Werner Kruger also crossed late on.

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