Leinster v Glasgow: Score and Lessons Learned from Rabodirect Pro 12 Final

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistMay 31, 2014

Leinster v Glasgow: Score and Lessons Learned from Rabodirect Pro 12 Final

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    Leinster claimed a second consecutive RaboDirect Pro12 title on Saturday, beating Glasgow Warriors, 34-12, in Dublin to end their campaign on a stellar high.

    The two sides went into half-time separated by just two points, but the pressure ultimately told for Glasgow as they were made to look amateur at times in the closing phases of what was shaping up to be a commendable and stubborn defence.

    The RDS Arena played as setting to a to a wonderful send-off for retiring figures Brian O'Driscoll and Leo Cullen, discussed as part of the lessons learned from an entertaining clash in the Irish capital.

1. Leinster Reserves Prove Overwhelming in Dublin

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    No championship-winning side is built on its starting XV alone, and though one might have argued Glasgow's case in possessing a bench of equal quality before kickoff, it didn't show in Dublin. 

    Glasgow's substitutes were all in play by the 67th minute, at which point, Leinster still had four players to call upon.

    O'Driscoll's ninth-minute substitution was an extremely cruel blow for the hosts to suffer so early on, especially on an occasion such as this, but Ian Madigan again filled in at inside centre to show just how Leinster are capable of coping with such setbacks.

    The fly-half did a remarkable job in his duties, but the additions of Sean O'Brien and the retiring Cullen were also stepping stones that helped the victors on their way to another title.

    Fresh minds and even fresher legs added to the mix at calculated points in the fixture helped ease Leinster's burden in working their way to the win, and Glasgow's newcomers couldn't match up to their counterparts in the end.

2. Big Occasion Still Too Daunting for Warriors

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    Coming into this game on the back of a nine-match league winning streak and boasting the best defence in the Pro12 season, many supposed that this could be Warriors' moment.

    However, when push came to shove at the RDS, Leinster looked every bit the deserving party on their way to victory, thriving on the type of stage that so many of their international stars have become accustomed to in their careers.

    Any way you paint it, Glasgow didn't look like a playoff final-winning side on Saturday when contrasted with their defeaters. 

    It was in the final 20 minutes of this fixture, the most telling part of any match of this magnitude, that the visitors really started to show their inadequacies; silly penalties and needless indiscipline showed just what a way they still have to go in their evolution.

    That being said, Gregor Townsend's project is still very much one in its adolescence, and provided Warriors can cope with speculated departures and gradually add and breed more individual talents, there will be more big occasions such as this in the years to come.

3. Zane Kirchner Showcase Highlights Leinster's Star Allure

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    With two tries and two assists to his name in Dublin, Zane Kirchner was the man doing all the damage on Saturday, involved in each of his side's three tries in front of a home support.

    The South African has only just returned to full fitness for Leinster, and his performance from the left wing ultimately told the tale of the Pro12 final, significant of just what power the club has in bringing top talent to their abode.

    Over the years, the Irish province has clinched the services of a long list of notable overseas stars such as Brad Thorn, Isa Nacewa and Felipe Contepomi, just to name a few.

    Glasgow are yet to build that reputation as being a star vehicle of sorts, and though they may get there eventually, Kirchner's show-reel display depicts the difference in quality that these two squads currently boast.

4. Finn Russell Gives Glasgow Cause for Comfort

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    Townsend will take a number of positives from this result, however hard it may have been to accept, and the promise shown by Finn Russell at times will be right at the top of his list.

    Like many within the squad on Saturday, the 21-year-old eventually showed his cracks and had a raft of forgettable moments in the second half, but for someone so young stepping onto this kind of stage for the first time, there's promise.

    Duncan Weir's omission from the squad entirely shows just how much faith the Warriors' coaching staff have in their emerging fly-half, featuring for the side in just his 11th start in total.

    Coping well with his nerves to begin with, Russell kicked well and showed good potential in forming a link-up with the likes of Alex Dunbar and Peter Murchie, regardless of the final result in the Pro12 finale.

5. Brian O'Driscoll Tenure Given Underwhelming Ending

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    Ending things with a win is only typical of arguably the greatest Northern Hemisphere ever to have played the sport, but Brian O'Driscoll's final career appearance came to a flat, undeserved halt after eight minutes.

    Ending his playing tenure with a fourth league title and his second in successive seasons, the elusive No. 13 would, of course, have drawn the headlines irrespective of whether he played 80 minutes or none at all, but it's a flat note to finish up on.

    Cullen, of course, also deserves credit, coming on as a second-half substitute and lifting the Pro12 trophy aloft in the post-match celebrations, but BO'D will undoubtedly be the man whom many in the squad had in the back of their minds on the way to this triumph.