Pro12 final should be entertaining, says ex-Ulster centre Maurice Field

Brian O'Driscoll
Brian O'Driscoll

RABO DIRECT PRO12 FINAL: Ulster v Leinster

Saturday, 25 May
16:45 BST
Live on BBC2 Northern Ireland, BBC Sport website and Radio Ulster

Former Ulster centre and BBC analyst Maurice Field says he expects the Pro12 final between Ulster and Leinster at the RDS to be an entertaining affair.

The sides clash in the Celtic decider just 12 months after locking horns in the Heineken Cup final at Twickenham, in which Leinster came out on top.

"Both sides boast attacking back lines who want to play a nice style of rugby.

"There will be loads of talent on show and there are plenty of players in both teams who want to throw the ball round.

"The forwards will have a right go at each other too and there will be two world class kickers on opposing sides, in Ruan Pienaar and Jonathan Sexton," said Field.

The ex-Ireland international believes that Ulster will benefit from having had two weeks without a game while Leinster were overcoming Stade Francais in the Amlin Challenge Cup final, and now face a second final in consecutive weeks.

"A week of recovery will be good for Ulster as they need to have fit bodies and be on top form to beat Leinster.

"Selection should not be too difficult for Mark Anscombe as the team more or less picks itself, with the boys having performed well in recent weeks and coming through the last game against the Scarlets unscathed.

"Leinster were exceptionally clinical against Stade Francais, they are such a quality team and to outscore their opponents by four tries to one when they were missing Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy is a tremendous achievement.

"Stade are not the force in European rugby that they were a few years ago, but Leinster did their job well.

"With the two form teams in the Pro12 clashing, tickets for the RDS are at a premium and I expect the atmosphere to be quite intense.

"18,000 people can create a lot of noise in a stadium which is full to capacity and the fact that it will be the last game with Leinster for Joe Schmidt and Jonathan Sexton gives the occasion an added edge."

Ruan Pienaar
Ruan Pienaar has been in fine kicking form for Ulster

Field believes the outcome could depend on whether Brian O'Driscoll is fit to play in the Irish interprovincial derby in Dublin.

"Brian brings something different to a team, with his enthusiasm and his ability to make things happen.

"Leinster without O'Driscoll are a very different proposition as he provides the inspiration for the team and provides a focus for Ulster, which may take their attention away from some of his team-mates.

"The pitch will be full of top class international players but a question mark remains over whether the Lions players will be let loose or wrapped in cotton wool ahead of the tour to Australia.

"I think the only pressure on Ulster will be the pressure that the players put on themselves to prove that they are a team capable of winning things.

"Leinster won convincingly in the Heineken decider last year but since then Ulster have won both Pro12 meetings between the sides, they are more mature and have gelled better as a squad.

"I know the players were immensely disappointed with their European quarter-final defeat by Saracens on the big occasion, and they'll want to put that right by doing themselves justice on Saturday."

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