Ruan Pienaar says goodbye to Ulster with final victory
South African’s side beat Leinster at Ravenhill, denying them top spot in the Pro12
Ulster’s Ruan Pienaar bid farewell with a win over Leinster in the Pro12. Photo: Darren Kidd/Inpho
It was Ruan Pienaar’s evening and there was nothing a misfiring Leinster seemed able to do about it to spoil the South African’s emotional send-off in Ulster colours.
Ulster rode home on a tide of emotion in a poor enough encounter quality wise to deny Leinster top spot in the final table which brought an end to their 10-game Pro12 winning run and means they ended up in second and play Scarlets for their semi-final at the RDS.
And though Les Kiss’s men couldn’t improve on fifth place – crucially finishing outside the top four – they did halt their three game run without a win to bring some feel-good factor to what has been such a disappointing season.
It wasn’t an exactly memorable opening half with neither side really getting on top and the error count high, which seemed appropriate with Leinster not needing the win as a home semi was already secured and Ulster only playing for pride.
It was appropriate that Wilson got over the line early on after Joey Carbery’s fourth minute penalty had put Leinster into a 3-0 lead.
Wilson wriggled over after eight minutes in what was his 221st game for Ulster and Paddy Jackson’s conversion put the home side 7-3 up.
Leinster came back into the game though and, after Carbery had hit a post on 20 minutes, he kicked his next shot two minutes later when Wilson failed to roll away.
The half ended with Ulster camped in Leinster territory and Jackson kicked a penalty in the final act of the half to put the northern province 10-6 in front.
After Ulster had finally secured some lineout ball they drove hard into Leinster’s 22 and it took Pienaar to create with his cross-kick granting Trimble the score in the right corner.
Jackson’s super touchline conversion put Ulster 17-6 in front. Leinster’s response was immediate but sub Cian Healy was denied a try by the TMO after a great drive from Tadhg Furlong.
Two minutes later, though, Leinster were awarded a penalty try which Carbery converted to cut Ulster’s lead to 17-13 just after the hour mark.
It didn’t feel like the end of the evening’s scoring but more handling errors from Leinster ensured that the only notable event prior to the end was Pienaar’s standing ovation when he left the action with just over 10 minutes to go.
Scorers – Ulster: Tries: Wilson, Trimble, Cons: Jackson 2, Pens: Jackson 1. Leinster: Penalty try, Cons: Carbery 1, Pens: Carbery 2.
ULSTER: C Gilroy, A Trimble (Capt), L Marshall, S McCloskey, C Piutau, P Jackson, R Pienaar; A Warwick, R Herring, R Ah You, K Treadwell, A O’Connor, R Diack, S Reidy, R Wilson.
Replacements: R Lutton for Ah You 30mins, C Henry for Reidy 42-58mins, P Nelson for Piutau and Henry for Wilson both 62mins, K McCall for Warwick 66mins, N Timoney for Treadwell 66 mins, P Marshal for Pienaar 69mins, J Andrew for Herring 75mins.
LEINSTER: I Nacewa (capt), A Byrne, G Ringrose, N Reid, F McFadden, J Carbery, L McGrath; J McGrath, J Tracy, T Furlong, D Toner, H Triggs, R Ruddock, J van der Flier, J Conan.
Replacements R Strauss for Tracy, C Healy for McGrath and R Molony for Triggs and D Leavy for Van der Fliewr all 56mins, J Gibson-Park for L McGrath 63mins, A Porter for Furlong 68mins, R O’Loughlin for Carbery 72mins.
Referee: A Brace (IRFU).