BY Guest

23 May

Pro14 Final - 4 Pub Talking Points

The pub is calling, and here are four major talking points to get you in the mood/make you sound like an absolute legend once you get there.

1. Tommy Seymour vs James Lowe is tasty as hell

Oh baby, this is going to be good. Seymour, Jane to his mates (probably), was instrumental in Glasgow’s semi-final thumping of Ulster, crossing the line after just three minutes before adding his second try of the game just before the hour mark as the Warriors piled 50 on the hapless Ulstermen.

That brings his tally up to eight tries in the Pro14 this year and sets up a mouth-watering clash on the wing with Leinster’s James Lowe.

Lowe, Alpine to his mates (probably), scored a last minute try against Munster in the semi-final to secure the Blues’ place in the final and the 26-year-old Kiwi has been instrumental in the Dublin side’s success since arriving last season.

While it would be foolhardy to say that the game hinges on who comes out on top on the flanks, it’s a seriously tasty little head-to-head and a dip into the stats show it’s fairly level pegging.

Seymour has waltzed past 25 defenders this season and made 425 metres on 80 carries – an average of 5.31 metres per carry. Lowe has sped past one less defender (24) and has made 581 metres on 108 carries – an average of 5.38 metres per carry.

It’s tighter than a fish’s arse with ball in hand whilst Seymour will be required to play a key role in defence. One of the best under the high ball, expect him to field plenty here as Leinster play for pressure and territory.

Lowe missed the match between these two sides in April, in which Seymour notched during a Glasgow win – but expect the lightning quick New Zealander to be a key part of Leinster’s attempts to retain their Pro14 title.

2. Hogg gets ready for his Scottish send-off

After nine years as a Glasgow Warrior, the Hoggfather prepares for his final game – and they don’t come much bigger, with Glasgow aiming to win just their second ever Pro14 crown. Stuart Hogg was a crucial part of Glasgow’s win against Munster in 2015 and has developed quite the relationship with international teammate Seymour, with the pair combining for six tries this season already.

The sandy beaches of Devon await the Exeter bound full back, but not before a potentially perfect send-off - winning the Pro14 in Glasgow. Expect him to be slap-bang in the middle of all of the Warrior’s thrilling attacking play this weekend.

3. Der Flier is back!

Firstly, the name van der Flier, immediately raises the Leinster back rower into the conversation for coolest Irish name in history. Whilst the untrained eye might assume he’s guzzled plenty of boerewors and wrangled the odd rhino in his time, your man’s actually Wicklow born and bred and shit-hot player to boot.

When the flanker twanged his groin against France in the Six Nations in March, it was widely thought his season was over – especially having missed the tail-end of last season with a troublesome knee knack. However exactly 70 days after being helped off the Aviva pitch, VDF returned to register a barnstorming, Man of the Match performance, against Munster at the RDS Stadium last week.

Van der Flier chewed through more Munster attackers than anyone else on the pitch last week (25 tackles) on top of eight bustling carries, as he slotted serenely back into the swing of things.

He almost got on the scoresheet early on but was bundled out just short – however it was the back-rowers defensive display that earned the accolades as he dominated around the ruck.

With Devin Toner and Sean O’Brien cluttering up the physio's office, Leo Cullen will be looking for enforcers such as van der Flier to step up again and deliver in Glasgow.

4. Have the bookies bogged it?

Glasgow bounce into the final having demolished Ulster and racking up nine wins on the spin domestically – including that 24-39 victory against Leinster in Dublin.

Bigger chalk fiends than Tony Montana in his prime, nobody scored more than the Warrior’s 614 points in the league this term, while they conceded just 366 (Scarlets and Munster were the only teams to ship less, with 361 and 365 respectively). Momentum is with the Warriors, as well as home turf, yet they’re still the underdogs in your local gambling establishment.

Leinster are the reigning champs, and comfortably waltzed Conference B with games to spare, however are some fears they’ve gone slightly off the boil.

They lost three and drew one of their final four Pro 14 fixtures, before farting away a 10-0 lead to Saracens in the Champions Cup final. The Blues showed plenty of guts to bounce back and beat Munster in a bruising display last week, but it didn’t come without sacrifice with key men succumbing to injury.

Leinster are the only side to ever retain the Pro-14 title in 2014, incidentally beating Glasgow 34-12 in the final, and that goes some way to show just how difficult it can be to keep hold of this particular pot.

It’s set to be a war reminiscent of Game of Thrones, but Glasgow Warriors might just sneak it.

Josh Powell
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All images - PA.

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