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Pro12 highlights: Ulster beat Leinster to give Pienaar and Wilson winning send-offs

Pro12: Ulster v LeinsterUlster (10) 17Tries: Wilson, Trimble Cons: Jackson 2 Pen: JacksonLeinster (6) 13Try: Penalty Con: Carbery Pens: Carbery 2

Ruan Pienaar had a winning competitive send-off for Ulster as the home side beat Leinster in the Pro12 derby.

Montpellier-bound Pienaar’s perfectly-weighted kick set up Andrew Trimble’s second-half score as Ulster held on despite a later Leinster penalty try.

An emotional Pienaar came off on 70 minutes while veteran Roger Wilson scored Ulster’s first-half try in his last game before his retirement.

Leinster’s defeat means they will host the Scarlets in the semi-finals.

Leo Cullen’s Leinster side went into the final series of regulation fixtures leading the table but Munster moved above them after earning a thumping 50-14 win over Connacht which means Rassie Erasmus’ team will face fourth-placed Ospreys in two weeks.

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Tearful Pienaar thanks Ulster fans

Pienaar bids farewell to under-achieving Ulster

Last weekend’s had effectively ended Ulster’s play-off hopes after another season of under-achievement for Les Kiss’ side.

Only a huge bonus-point victory over their Irish rivals and equally thumping Scarlets win over the Ospreys – resulting in a points swing of 73 – would have seen Ulster squeezing into the last four and it was never a realistic possibility.

From an Ulster point of view, that left the occasion as primarily a farewell to Pienaar after a seven-year Kingspan Stadium career which, despite his numerous magnificent individual displays, saw him missing out on any titles.

As on so many occasions, the contest was lit up by a moment of Pienaar perfection in the 55th minute as his deft crosskick allowed Trimble to touch down following a period of Ulster pressure.

Amid rapturous applause, Pienaar was replaced 15 minutes later and he was greeted in the dug-out by his compatriot and former Ravenhill team-mate Johann Muller, who travelled from home in South Africa to watch his fellow Springbok’s final competitive Ulster game.

Roger Wilson’s try helped Ulster lead 10-6 at half-time

Wilson touches down on 221st and last Ulster game

Back row Wilson was also making his 221st and last Ulster appearance and his vigorous display was highlighted by a ninth-minute try which helped the home side lead 10-6 at the break, despite a misfiring line-out.

After slipping 17-6 behind, Leinster, parading a strong side despite the absence of British & Irish Lions trio Johnny Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and Sean O’Brien, fought back helped by a couple of wonderful Garry Ringrose runs.

After Cian Healy had been held up over the Ulster line, intense Leinster pressure yielded a 61st-minute penalty try which cut the margin to four but the home side held on with a degree of comfort in the closing stages.

Leinster’s other eight points came from Joey Carbery’s boot.

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: J Andrew, K McCall, R Lutton, C Henry, N Timoney, P Marshall, P Nelson, J Stockdale.

Leinster: I Nacewa; 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, C Healy, A Porter, R Molony, Dan Leavy, J Gibson-Park, R Byrne, R O’Loughlin.


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