Leinster out to defend crown from bloodthirsty Warriors
May 30, 2014
Brian O'Driscoll will be aiming to sign off with a win at the RDS Arena on Saturday © Getty Images
It's a clash of old masters against young pretenders in the RaboDirect PRO12 final on Saturday, with defending champions Leinster taking on a Glasgow Warriors side making their first appearance in a league final.
The Warriors have been the PRO12's form team in recent months, winning their last nine fixtures and showing determination to overcome Munster 16-15 in the semi-final. Leinster enjoyed a more comfortable semi, just, defeating Ulster 13-9 to make their fifth their successive final.
The storylines come thick and fast ahead of the clash at the RDS Arena, from the retirement of the veteran Brian O'Driscoll to Glasgow's attempts to unseat the favourites. Ahead of the action, ESPN previews all you need to know.
Leinster Rugby v Glasgow WarriorsSaturday, RDS Arena, 6.15pm, BBC Alba and BBC Two Scotland
Amid the outpouring of emotion directed at the retiring Jonny Wilkinson, the spotlight has skirted another great of the game playing the final match in an illustrious career. Brian O'Driscoll lines up for his swansong aiming to claim a fourth PRO12 title and Glasgow will be hard pressed to resist the passion Leinster will surely show to support their talisman's last hurrah.
Leinster have been strong all season in domestic terms, topping the table in the regular season and crashing over 57 tries in the process. The province were knocked out of the Heineken Cup at the quarter-final stage by the rampaging Toulon, but that defeat will only strengthen their resolve to end the season on a high.
While Leinster finished top of the pile after 22 regular season fixtures, Glasgow impressed with a late surge to finish second and just three points behind their final opponents. Their record of nine consecutive wins included some convincing displays against both minnows of the league and its heavyweights. Two victories over Munster in the space of a month, plus a home thrashing of Ulster, shows the Warriors have pedigree when it comes to defeating provinces this season.
The team news will be dominated by the fact that British and Irish Lions full-back Stuart Hogg has been left out of the squad amid speculation that he is pushing for a move away from club. But Gregor Townsend has galvanised a strong team ethic at Scotstoun this term, giving fans of Scottish rugby something to be proud of after the disappointing efforts of their national side this year.
The side's have enjoyed a win each in their regular season fixtures against each other this campaign. Glasgow were 12-6 winners in September 2013, but Leinster took revenge with a 28-25 victory in March.
Both sides have finishers in the PRO12's top five try-scorers. Glasgow's Nikola Matawalu and Leinster's Noel Reid have seven tries apiece.
If Leinster lift the trophy on Saturday, they will be the first team to ever successfully defend the PRO12 title.
Glasgow are the first Scottish club to appear in a PRO12 final.
Leinster have the highest average home attendance of any club in the PRO12. Although the ticket allocations will vary for the final, the fact that Saturday's showpiece takes place at the province's home stadium could give Leinster the psychological edge over their rivals.
Glasgow's story has been a compelling one in recent months, but the Brian O'Driscoll factor will be too strong and Leinster should win a close final by six points.
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