Ulster’s season ended with a third consecutive Guinness PRO12 semi-final defeat – this time going down to Leinster at the RDS.
Ulster had fought back from 13-0 down to cut Leo Cullen’s side lead to two points at the interval but 17 unanswered points was enough to put the Dubliners in next Saturday’s final.
Leinster took the lead after five minutes when captain Isa Nacewa broke through a weak tackle by Craig Gilroy to finish off a sustained period of pressure and Johnny Sexton converted.
The Irish out half extended the home side’s lead with a penalty on 11 minutes after Chris Henry was caught offside.
Sexton slotted over his second penalty on 16 minutes after Ulster were punished for hands in the ruck.
Paddy Jackson registered Ulster’s first points with a penalty from in front of the posts on 27 minutes.
Jackson was on take again four minutes later with another penalty after Leinster infringed under their own posts.
Ulster reduced Leinster’s lead a half time to 13-11 when Craig Gilroy squeezed over in the corner on 38 minutes but Jackson couldn’t convert.
Jamie Heaslip got Leinster’s second try on 48 minutes when he barged over Jackson after being released by Ben Te’o and Sexton converted from a tight angle.
Sean Cronin got the home side’s third try when from a powerful scrum they pushed Ulster close to the line and after a couple of darts the Irish hooker went over with Sexton converting.
Gilroy got his second try from a simple scrum move when Pienaar put him clear on 70 minutes to run in unopposed and Jackson drop kicked the conversion.
Leinster: I Nacewa, D Kearney, G Ringrose, B Te’o, L Fitzgerald, J Sexton, E Reddan, J McGrath, R Strauss, M Ross, D Toner, M Kearney, R Ruddock, J Murphy, J Heaslip
Replacements: S Cronin for Strauss 52 mins, P Dooley for McGrath 68 mins, T Furlong for Ross 52 mins, R Molony for M Kearney 66 mins, J Conan for Ruddock 73 mins, L McGrath for Reddan 68 mins, I Madigan for Teo 68 mins, Z Kirchner for Nacewa 49 mins
Ulster: J Payne, A Trimble, L Marshall, S McCloskey, C Gilroy, P Jackson, R Pienaar, C Black, R Best, R Lutton, P Browne, F van der Merwe, I Henderson, C Henry, S Reidy
Replacements: R Herring for Best 72 mins, K McCall for Black 46 mins, A Warwick for Lutton, R Diack for Browne 66 mins, R Wilson for Reidy 61 mins, P Marshall for Pienaar 75 mins, S Olding for McCloskey 57 mins, D Cave for Marshall 68 mins
Referee: I Davies (WRU