The first Championship to see teams from Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Wales and South Africa fight it out comes to a head this Saturday as Leinster Rugby and Scarlets face off in a mouth-watering Guinness PRO14 Final.
The highly-anticipated clash sees newly-crowned kings of Europe Leinster attempt to do the double whilst Scarlets aim to become only the second side ever to retain the Championship title.
The match is a tough one to predict, pitting Leinster’s relentless power against the attacking verve of Scarlets, who seem to be peaking at the right time if their 28-13 Semi-Final win away at Glasgow Warriors is to be used as evidence.
To try and get a read on Saturday’s finale, we took a look back at four clashes between the opponents over the last 12 months.
— Scarlets Rugby (@scarlets_rugby) May 18, 2018
19 May 2017, Guinness PRO12 Semi-Final, RDS Arena
Leinster 15-27 Scarlets
How Scarlets fans would like to see a repeat of this famous day in their history, the last time the Welsh region were able to defeat Leinster.
With a home Semi-Final, the Dublin-based province were strong favourites heading into this tie but were blown away by a scintillating Scarlets performance.
Welsh wing Steff Evans started the scoring after a brilliant move on nine minutes, Garry Ringrose then put Leinster ahead but Aaron Shingler and Gareth Davies also touched down to create a 21-10 half-time lead.
The west Walians went down to 14 men after Evans saw red, but two penalties from Liam Williams helped create history – the first time an away team had won in the Championship Semi-Finals.
17 February 2018, Guinness PRO14, RDS Arena
Leinster 20-13 Scarlets
The first of three wins for Leo Cullen’s men over Scarlets in the last three months, this victory paved the way for the Leinstermen to take top spot in Conference B.
The Irish province’s pack were in dominant form as they have been for much of this campaign, with Scott Fardy, Sean Cronin and Jordi Murphy all punching holes in the Scarlets defence throughout the game.
— Rob Evans (@Revsprop1) May 21, 2018
Johnny McNicholl went over in the corner to build a lead for Wayne Pivac’s side but Kiwi wing James Lowe responded twice, displaying all of his pace and power.
Scrum-half Luke McGrath grabbed Leinster’s third try in the second half but Dan Jones was able to notch a late penalty to secure a losing bonus point.
9 March 2018, Guinness PRO14, Parc y Scarlets
Scarlets 10-10 Leinster
Perhaps in a sign of how evenly-matched these sides are, the points were shared at Parc y Scarlets back in March as the two finalists punched themselves to a standstill in the rain.
The first half was scoreless but Ed Byrne drew first blood for Leinster, with Scarlets centre Paul Asquith powering over in response.
Eight minutes from time Ross Byrne looked to have won it for the visitors with a penalty, but Dan Jones replied with the last kick of the game to level the scores.
One more week. 💪
One more game. 🏉
— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) May 21, 2018
21 April 2018, European Champions Cup Semi-Final, Aviva Stadium
Leinster 38-16 Scarlets
No doubt this match will loom large in the minds of both sets of players this week, but will it serve to provide confidence to the men in blue or the perfect blueprint of how to improve for those in red?
Just over four weeks ago, Leinster were at their imperious best in this European Champions Cup semi-final before going on to lift the trophy.
Tries from James Ryan, Cian Healy and Fergus McFadden helped produced a 24-9 half-time lead as Leinster’s power and relentless defence suffocated their opposition.
Pivac’s men struggled to hold onto possession and were put under pressure by a series of Johnny Sexton high kicks, a tactic they’ll be wary off on Saturday.
Fardy and Sexton grabbed second-half tries to round off the victory, but Scarlets get a second bite of the cherry this weekend.
Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Prices start at just €50 at www.ticketmaster.ie with tickets available to suit every experience.
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