Overall Guinness PRO12 head to head record:
Played 26, Edinburgh Rugby won 10, Leinster won 16.
At BT Murrayfield, 7:35pm. Live on BBC Alba/TG4
Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU, 43rd competition game)
Assistant Referees: Emanuele Tomo (FIR), Bob Nevins (SRU)
Citing Commissioner: Paul Minto (SRU)
TMO: Carlo Damasco (FIR)
Isa Nacewa scored a try on his 150th Leinster appearance as the Irish side put in a stellar first-half performance in their 33-20 Guinness PRO12 victory away at Edinburgh.
The winger scored Leinster’s third with a simple finish down the right as Leo Cullen’s side put Edinburgh to the sword, despite falling behind to an early Mike Allen try.
However, three tries in 12 minutes, followed by a fourth shortly before the break that secured a bonus point, seemingly settled the game at Murrayfield as Leinster’s irresistible attacking game fired on all cylinders.
But Edinburgh fought back thanks to second-half tries from Hamish Watson and Magnus Bradbury, but Dan Leavy scored his second try in the dying seconds to see off their threat.
The evening started positively for the hosts after prop WP Nel led out his team-mates to mark the occasion of his 100th appearance, before a lightning-fast start brought them a first-minute try.
Some quick hands saw Edinburgh move Leinster’s defence out of position, before Phil Burleigh’s clever kick in behind was perfect for rapid winger Allen to score.
Leinster, who had lost just one of the previous five meetings between the sides prior to this match, took a while to settle down, but once they did they took control.
A quick penalty caught Edinburgh cold allowing Leavy to run through following a neat pass, before Garry Ringrose scored their second try six minutes later after Leinster sucked Edinburgh into the breakdown and exploited the space on the right.
BT Murrayfield lost its vocal edge and six minutes later it fell silent completely as Heaslip and Devin Toner made big carries, hooker Sean Cronin produced a neat pass and Nacewa strolled in for his 34th Leinster try.
The Scottish side went close to responding when debutant No.8 Viliami Fihaki used his power and strength to drive forwards, falling inches short, before Leinster regained the ball at their five-metre line.
And they secured the bonus point minutes later as their muscular pack moved Edinbugh backwards inside the 22 and scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park threw a neat dummy and scrambled over the line from two yards out for his first Leinster try.
Edinburgh’s comeback hopes were dealt a blow just before the break as lock Grant Glichrist was shown a yellow card for collapsing a maul, but Leinster evened up the numbers just after half time as Leavy was punished for a high tackle.
Edinburgh seized the momentum and got back into the match thanks to a powerful finish from Watson, who showed determination to hold off two tackles and touch the ball over the line to reduce the gap to 11 points.
And they almost got the BT Murrayfield crowd on their feet minutes later as Glenn Bryce dived over in the corner, only for the TMO to bring it back for a foot in touch.
Leinster sat back in the half and focused on seeing the game out, but this only encouraged the rejuvenated hosts to pile forward and they set up a tense finale when Bradbury crashed through Leinster’s defence to score.
However, Cullen’s men went up the other end and wrapped it up as Leavy powered over.
Guinness PRO12 Final 2017 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 adults and €5 child, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie. For further information visit http://www.pro12rugby.com/final
13 Sep 2016