A fortnight after relinquishing their Champions Cup title, Leinster reasserted their dominance among the Celtic nations last night, but only after their technique and endurance were tested to the limit in an intense PRO14 Grand Final that was worthy of comparison with that previous battle against Saracens.

Billed as Glasgow Warriors’ chance to finally prove themselves capable of mixing it with Europe’s best they demonstrated the progress they have made since these sides last met in a final five years ago and there was a controversial element to the Irish province’s victory as they ended the match with 15 men on the pitch.

Stuart Hogg’s last act as a Glasgow Warriors had been one of self-sacrifice 15 minutes before the end, the full-back failing to return to the pitch having left it for treatment after being hit in the air by opposite number Rob Kearney and his fellow Lion was lucky to be shown only a yellow card for his offence.

While both were off the field, Glasgow got back within a score as replacement hooker Grant Stewart levelled the try count, but once Leinster were back to full strength they managed to hold on for victory.

Hogg had kicked off proceedings in a match that had seen the five-time champions hoping to benefit from leaving 2018 world player of the year Johnny Sexton out of their starting line-up for the previous week’s semi-final against Munster to keep him fresh for the Grand Final, but they might have wished they had stuck with Ross Byrne given the way their star man began the game.

There were a number of errors which started when the Irish stand off took the ball into a ruck and Jamie Bhatti conceded a penalty only for Sexton to deliver his kick wide.

A poor up-and-under followed, next a wayward pass prevented Leinster from capitalising on a promising counter-attack and then a subsequent wild pass along the turf allowed Tommy Seymour to get a foot to the ball, gather it and almost get away, Rob Kearney doing well to haul him down before he got into his running.

It was Glasgow who struck first, however, working the ball infield from a lineout inside the Leinster 22 and gaining ground through a string of phases before then working their way back left where Scott Cummings made a dent in the defensive line, before Matt Fagerson ploughed over from the resultant ruck, Adam Hastings adding the extra points.

The response was instant however, Leinster pinning them back inside their 22 from the re-start where Stuart Hogg’s attempted clearance was charged down by Luke McGrath, the ball rebounding beyond the goal-line and spinning like a top to await the touchdown from Garry Ringrose.

Sexton sliced his admittedly difficult conversion attempt wide once more, however, leaving Glasgow with a narrow lead and the home city’s representatives extended their advantage as the game moved into the second quarter, a break by the ever more impressive Kyle Steyn after he initially battling his way out of a Ringrose tackle, taking Glasgow into the Leinster 22 again where he linked with Hogg who then fed the ball to DTH van der Merwe.

The winger was hauled down by a combination of Kearney and Jordan Larmour just short and Leinster managed to hold out under enormous pressure, but conceded a penalty in doing so which allowed Hastings to extend Glasgow’s advantage to five.

Glasgow were forced into a change when Fraser Brown was caught in a bad position as he was cleared out of a ruck, was in immediate and very obvious pain and inevitably had to be stretchered from the field.

No sooner was he off the pitch than Leinster set up one of their trademark offensives, recycling the ball umpteen times as they ground their way ever closer to the try line, before Cian Healy forced his way over, just as he had done in the Champions Cup a fortnight earlier. It was third time lucky for Sexton as he added the extra points to nudge his side ahead for the first time.

Bhatti, in his last appearance for Glasgow before his summer move to Edinburgh, was then penalised for collapsing a scrum five metres out, giving Sexton the chance to demonstrate that if he had been affected by that earlier he had fully recovered and he duly extended his side’s advantage to five points, a lead they held to the interval which arrived when Adam Hastings’ over-ambitious double miss pass, resulted in van der Merwe being bundled into touch.

They moved further ahead early in the second half after a counter-attack was launched by Ringrose as he got a foot to the ball when a Glasgow attack broke down, then recovered it and broke clear on a weaving run, before he was stopped deep in the 22. Steyn was sin-binned for killing the ball at the resultant ruck and Leinster opted to go to touch, but after Glasgow held out, at the cost of a penalty under the posts, Sexton knocked it over to put two scores between the teams for the first time.

Steyn returned with Glasgow again defending their line at a succession of five-metre scrums and there was a further boost for the home side when they managed to hold out, Leinster having turned down an easy chance to extend their lead when awarded a penalty during that sequence.

With 15 minutes left the momentum swung as a result of Kearney’s rashness and while Leinster managed to work off most of the sin bin period by churning through the phases, they overplayed their hand, conceding a penalty in their 22 and Glasgow pounced. Hastings found a good touch and after they worked their way into the 22 they stretched the defence in both directions before creating an overload on the right where Pete Horne and Huw Jones both shifted the ball quickly to send Brown’s replacement Grant Stewart into the right corner.

That, though, was it as the champions demonstrated their ruthlessness in the closing stages, holding on to the ball faultlessly to work down the clock and finish yet another season with silverware.