It’s the all Ireland final everyone wished for, everyone that is outside Connacht and Ulster, and Lansdowne Road will see the biggest crowd, apart from international day
It’s the all Ireland final everyone wished for, everyone that is outside Connacht and Ulster, and Lansdowne Road will see the biggest crowd, apart from international day, when Leinster and Munster go head to head next Saturday.
Already it’s being billed as the champions Munster against the heirs apparent Leinster, the old force against the new, with forecasters making Leinster favourites to win a historic final.
Matt Williams has this Leinster side humming and the ease with which they brushed aside Glasgow was impressive. It was a Glasgow team that included seven internationals but Leinster toyed with them, cat and mouse-like, scoring tries from defensive position, and basically controlled the game from start to finish.
Munster struggled against Llanelli in the quarters and despite dominating territorially against Ulster, left themselves open to a late sucker punch, which Ulster almost delivered. And they will go into the final with three internationals – two Lions – sitting in the stand and doubts whether two more, Peter Stringer and Frank Sheahan, will make the starting line up.
Again, the general concensus is that the open spaces of Lansdowne Road will suit Leinster’s gameplan which will be to get it away from the pack as quick as possible and let their wide boys do the damage. As they have shown countless times ths season, Leinster can strike at the most unlikely time and from any position. In the European Cup game against Newport in Rodney Road they turned desperate defence into stinging attack when Peter McKenna robbed a ball and sped away for the decisive score. They also have in Nathan Spooner, what they didn’t have since Alan McGowan retired, a reliable and consistent place kicker. Indeed if Spooner (or McGowan) had been around last year there is little doubt but that they’d have reached the knock out stages.
So the stage is set for a fascinating encounter, a clash of two styles, two great rivals who will go at each other from the off in a contest that will be remembered and talked about for some time to come.