20 May 2012

Leinster vs Ulster - Heineken Cup Final Review

Ulster remarked in the build up to the final that they were a team motivated by jealousy. That jealousy had developed a quiet determination in their ranks as well as a growing sense of belief. 'Stand up for the Ulster men' was the rallying call bellowed out by their fans. A murmur had become a crescendo. Their belief appeared warranted too.... Escaping the group of death and thrashing Leicester in the process was a real achievement. Becoming only the second team to win away at Thomond Park against their Irish rivals Munster also heightened this feeling. It was time for Ulster to step out of the shadows of their more illustrious brothers.

That belief though must have all but dissipated now. 80 minutes of fantasy rugby culminating in a 42-14 rout by Leinster, showed just how far they are from reaching the pinnacle of European rugby. The bar has been set and Leinster it appears are not for budging. With 3 Heineken Cup successes in the last 4 years, Leinster it appears are building a dynasty in Europe.

Aristocrats have added steel to their finesse

Ulster may be demoralised following their comprehensive loss but if they want a template for progression, they need look no further than the team that beat them yesterday. Leinster after all were in a similar position only a few years ago. Vociferously taunted by opposition fans as 'Arsitocrats' who lacked the 'hard men' necessary to become champions, Leinster were a side also motivated by jealousy. Munster for years were the team to beat. How things have changed...

Leinster hard man - Brad Thorn
Those taunts have now been well and truly silenced. The likes of Rocky Elsom (now departed), Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip and now Brad Thorn have added some real steel and backbone to complement the finesse that they have often showed in abundance. Any rival must now that Leinster are always up for the fight. The final scoreline yesterday may have been of pure fantasy and it might suggest that the game was a rout. I suppose in the end it was, but it must be noted that Ulster were not hapless. They had their moments with the ball in hand and looked dangerous at times, if not world beaters.

Leinster were just far more ruthless, both in attack and defence. For all the wonderfully crafted tries which the game will be remembered for, Leinster's success was built on the foundations of perspiration as much as inspiration. Their workrate in defence was simply outstanding; a trait of champions.

Dynasty in Dublin

Following yeterdays's performance, their is weight behind the theory that Leinster are now the greatest side in Heineken Cup history. Toulouse remain the most illustrious with four successes while Leicester (like Leinster) once won successive finals. None though have won three times in four years. Certainly none have won as comprehensively as Leinster yesterday. The scary thing for any pretenders is that this Leinster side still has enough youth in it's side to suggest that they can reign supreme for a number of years. Next year's final is in Dublin too....

Sexton's legend continues
The Heineken Cup is often lamented for poor handling skills and lack of tries by the southern hemisphere. In comparison to the Super 15, their is certainly merit behind the accusations at times. One cannot level those complaints at Leinster though (or Ulster for that matter).

Their offloading and distribution of the ball is oustanding. Leinster are the best passing side in Europe (and I include International sides in that assessment). The fact that Jonny Sexton plays so flat on attack also means that Leinster seem to cross the gain line with ease. It is reminiscent of the Blues in the mid to late 90's when Carlos Spencer was running the backline under Graham Henry.

Joe Schmidt the most innovative coach in Europe

Leinster coach Joe Schmidt
Perhaps Leinster's coach has taken inspiration from his countrymen? Since Joe Schmidt took the reigns, Leinster have become the most innovative side in European rugby by far. If he's not an All Black coach in waiting, I don't know who is. The way in which Leinster switch the focal point of attack makes them incredibly difficult to predict and thus defend against. As a defender you have to be on guard at all times. Concentration is imperitive. The first try of the game showcased it best of all.

Brian O'Dricoll scissored before passing inside to a charging Rob Kearney from full back who almost made it to the line. From then on Sean O'Brien made them pay with a short burst over the whitewash. It was a try befitting of a final. It's difficult to compare sides and eras, but for me this Leinster side remind me a lot of the Brumbies in the early 2000's. They certainly play with the same intelligence in attack. They also I would say kick less out of hand than the Crusaders, who despite sharing the same ruthlessness in attack, tend to play a lot more for territory.

Man of the Match - Sean O'Brien

There were a number of top performers in the final. For Ulster, Darren Cave showed promise at centre. If O'Driscoll is to retire from international rugby any time soon, perhaps they have unearthed a successor in the Ulsterman. John Afoa was also in terrific form at prop. He was always known as an athletic prop in Super Rugby, but he looks like a slightly porky superman in Europe. He was often found rampaging like a bull on the wing yesterday or tackling like a man posessed. As former England fly half Stuart Barnes commented, Afoa is currently the best defensive prop in Europe.

As well as those two played though, the award had to go to a Leinster player. Jonny Sexton controlled the game well from fly-half, kicking a hat-ful of points in the process. Brian O'Driscoll and Rob Kearney also showed glimpses of true brilliance throughout the final. O'Driscoll's flick out of the back of his hand which led to Leinster's second try was something akin to a certain Sonny Bill Williams. The man who charged onto that flick pass though gets the award....

Rampaging Sean O'Brien
Sean O'Brien, last year's European Player of the Year, has been rather quiet since he returned from the World Cup in New Zealand. He gained many plaudits down under, and they know a good loose-forward when they see one. Among the many quotes doing the rounds during that tournament were that 'Sean O'Brien invented the giraffe when he gave a horse an uppercut' and that 'Superman wears Sean O'Brien pyjamas'! His recent under-par performances since then had belied those claims.

It seems O'Brien was just waiting for the biggest match of all to show his true self though. He bustled over for the first try of the game and then set off like a runaway train in the lead up to the second. Those first two tries settled any Leinster nerves and were the key influence behind their victory. NZ beware.... O'Brien and Ireland will be heading to the land of the long white cloud with a purpose in June.

What did you make of the final? 

Are Leinster now the greatest Heineken Cup side of all time or do they still have more to prove to receive that accolade?

Who is your Heineken Cup player of the tournament?

As always leave your opinion in the comments section!

If you enjoyed this article...you may enjoy the following posts too:

Harlequins vs Leicester - Aviva Premiership Final Preview (Click Here)
Irish Coaching Vacuum (Click Here)
Leinster vs Ulster - Heineken Cup Final Preview (Click Here)
Clermont vs Leinster - Heineken Cup Semi-Final Review (Click Here)


  1. Hey great article ... I was brought here via a post on the BBC website. In answer to your question 1: the final was superb great quality rugby from both teams ...im not a fan of either team but credit where credit is due Leinster play a beautiful brand of rugby .... Player of the tournament : J. Sexton purely for that blind pass against cardiff in the Q/F. umm are Leinster the best team in Heineken cup history??? umm not sure one thing I can say they play the most easy on the eye rugby for sure

    1. @ Chasing6Shadows

      I think the beauty of this Leinster side is that they don't rely on one or two players. On any given day they could have a couple of matchwinners. Sexton, Kearney, O'Driscoll, O'Brien.....the list goes on.

      Some of the stuff Leinster played against Cardiff was beautiful to watch. Sexton seems to have his critics for some reason but I think he's a quality fly half.

      I rate Priestland but I would be surprised if Sexton wasn't the starting 10 for the Lions next year.

  2. Anonymous15 June, 2013

    Nice pоst. Ӏ learn somеthing tοtally new and chаllenging on blogs Ι stumbleupon on а
    daily bаsis. It wіll alωаyѕ be helpful to
    read аrticles from othег authοrs and praсtice
    a lіttle somеthing from othеr ωеbsites.

    Feel fгeе to ѕurf to mу wеb site - exercises to strengthen core

  3. Anonymous07 May, 2014

    Exϲellent blog here! Also your web site lods up fast!
    What web ɦost are yoս using? Can I get your affiliаte linhk too уouг host?
    Iwish my site loaded uƿ as faѕt as yourѕ lol

    My weblog ... locksmiths lansing mi

  4. The main points can assist you generate income irrespective of people unique surmounted scope or maybe opening dollars.
    Buy FIFA 14 coins, cheap fut 14 coins fast and safe at Eafutcoins.co.uk

  5. Anonymous01 June, 2014

    First off I want to say superb blog! I had a quick question in which I'd like to ask if you do not mind.
    I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear
    your thoughts prior to writing. I have had difficulty
    clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out there. I truly do enjoy writing
    but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be lost just trying to figure out
    how to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Thanks!

    My site :: herpes cure 2014

  6. Anonymous03 June, 2014

    Howdy! Quick question that's entirely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?
    My website looks weird when browsing from my iphone 4. I'm trying to
    find a template or plugin that might be able to resolve this
    issue. If you have any recommendations, please share.

    Feel free to visit my blog post: Rev Test Review

  7. Anonymous04 June, 2014

    Android is the operating system that is full of features and take up the very best ranks in this category, even though
    the i - OS comes with several features which are not present
    in Android. Also, Android comes in many shapes and sizes meaning that there are a lot of options for consumers,
    but different screen sizes, different resolutions, and varying capabilities
    make development challenging. As CIO I oversee many projects that
    involve creating custom mobile apps for these platforms and I regularly
    help clients decide which platforms will best fit their needs.

    My page :: Farm Heroes Saga Cheats Android

  8. Anonymous04 June, 2014

    hey tɦere and thank yoou foor ʏߋur info – I'vedefinitely
    picked սp anytjing new from гight here. I diid hoաever expertise ɑ
    feew technical ƿoints սsing this website, sіnce I experienced tօ reload tɦe site many times previous tߋ I could get itt
    to load properly. ӏ hadd been wondering if ƴօur web host is ΟK?
    Νot that I'm complaining, Ƅut slow loading instances times wіll very frequently affect үour placement іn google
    ɑnd ould damage үour quality score if advertising and marketing ԝith
    Adwords. Аnyway Ӏ'm adding this RSS to my e-mail and ϲould looк ߋut for a lot
    moгe οf your respective іnteresting content.
    Ensure tha ʏߋu update tҺis again ѕoon.

    Ӊere is mƴ blog post :: sportsbet

  9. Anonymous05 June, 2014

    Hello! Do you know if they make any plugins to
    help with SEO? I'm trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted
    keywords but I'm not seeing very good gains. If you
    know of any please share. Appreciate it!

    Also visit my web page - clean colon

  10. Anonymous12 June, 2014

    Great post. I was checking continuously this blog and I'm impressed!
    Very helpful information specially the last part
    :) I care for such information much. I was looking for this particular info for a
    very long time. Thank you and good luck.

    Have a look at my page: cenaless (www.senocrito.it)

  11. Anonymous18 June, 2014

    In comparison, a complex app takes longer to create, but it is
    possible to generally charge more money because of it.
    It is a fresh version in order that there remain many weaknesses.
    So, if you happen to be feeling like using an i
    - Phone app to your product or brand, hire skilled and experienced i - Phone programmers who would bring your
    idea into reality.

    My webpage :: making an app

  12. Anonymous18 June, 2014

    Although different lenders might have different criteria,
    the basic principles will apply for them all.
    The Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA give debtors the chance to control their
    credit background dispute false debt claims that can cause unwanted effects on credit
    history. If this may be the case, credit officer will provide you with the proper information needed to investigate the charges.

    Also visit my weblog: credit report free

  13. Anonymous19 June, 2014

    We also work with natural energies from different energy crystals and Shaman Energy Tools.
    I have performed several rituals, I have raised so much energy
    with my spells that I consider myself the ideal person to talk
    about these things. It brought him to talk to me again and he gave me another date, but I
    was sooo worried that would have been the end of it with the sexond chance

    My blog post; love spells that work fast

  14. Anonymous19 June, 2014

    How is diminished value determined and what happens when you sell your
    vehicle after that accident. Since personal injury are broadly categorized into various types,
    you should know which attorney you should hire to represent your case
    in a lawsuit. s negligence, the lawyer will file a lawsuit against the individual.

    Feel free to visit my site: personal injury lawyer toronto contingency

  15. Anonymous21 June, 2014

    I will immediately take hold of your rss as I can not in finding your email subscription hyperlink or newsletter service.
    Do you have any? Kindly let me realize in order that I could subscribe.

    Here is my website: effective leadership

  16. Anonymous22 June, 2014

    At this time I am ready to do my breakfast, when having my
    breakfast coming again to read additional news.

    Here is my web site ... gain muscle lose fat diet

  17. How is diminished value determined and what happens when you sell your
    vehicle after that accident. Floor tiling Marlborough

  18. If you still have no idea what this means, don't worry about it, because you can always...

  19. Anonymous27 July, 2014

    Great post.

    Have a look at my website ... wasp pest control

  20. When the body has to retain water, it will do so at all costs.
    A persons health is far too precious to risk obtaining h - CG illegally off the internet just to save a few bucks.
    I did a little research on Paleolithic meal plans and came to the conclusion that this diet is certainly worth a try.

    Also visit my web blog free Acai Berry

  21. The concept of this application is promising,
    however, a few aspects are still too beta to really be useful.
    An android applications development helps the hotel business owners to generate bills
    that are calculated automatically without any errors, take orders from the customers table at the push of a button, collect important
    data that can be used for better decision making.
    Unfortunately, many developers are discovering
    that finding markets for their applications can be tricky, but neglecting the possible distribution sites limits your ability to sell your application.

    My web site ... throne rush cheats iphone

  22. The quantitative hcg test is performed when the amount of hcg is desired
    to be known. However, there are numerous HCG recipes that exist, thanks to the thousands of people who've bravely undertaken this diet.
    Depending on who you talk to, the h - CG diet in its original form as appropriated by Dr Simeons
    as either a weight-loss marvel or a dangerous fraud.

    My site :: acai berry detox

  23. The BCS (Bowl Championship Series) does not factor in scoring margin. It provides all sorts of unique experiences to participate
    in, from floating around outer space to riding the rapids, or going through
    a mountaintop obstacle course. Identity-connected scams, dark schemes and credit status traps litter the way to financial success.

    Have a look at my web page :: real racing 3 hack

  24. I listen to the factors for not attending: too far, can’t get away from the company, location, expenses, etc. But I have also heard that if it is a beneficial display, every attempt will be made to get that particular location. car diagnose