Leinster Rugby’s season ended with a single-point loss to the Vodacom Bulls in the URC semi-final at the RDS Arena.

A late Cian Healy try closed the gap to just one but it came with time up and referee Andrea Piardi signalled full-time on completion of Johnny Sexton’s conversion.

Amid temperamental weather in Ballsbridge, the Bulls made a real statement in turning away Leinster’s first sustained attack.

A ball out on the full by Jimmy O’Brien and a spill by Joe McCarthy offered the South Africans a chance to then establish the front foot.

The first scrum saw Andrew Porter twist a penalty out of Mornay Smith and Leinster used the boots of Garry Ringrose and Ross Byrne to look for territory.

Rory O’Loughlin got his toe to Byrne’s long, tumbling kick allowing Dan Sheehan to strike for the opening try which Byrne converted.

A Larmour burst was undone by the home side’s failure to hold the ball, Bulls breaking left with slick handling and the speed of Madosh Tambwe.

The pressure yielded a penalty which Chris Smith smartly turned into three points.

The hands of Johan Grobbelaar at a ruck provided further sustenance, a smooth lineout delivering the platform for the Bulls to drive relentlessly but Canan Moodie failed to apply downward pressure.

From a five-metre tap penalty, Elrigh Louw drove and switched to Grobbelaar for the hooker to crash through tacklers for the try, Smith’s conversion making it 10-7 in the 22nd minute.

A Leinster error was followed by another penalty for Smith to pump the ball towards the five-metre line.

The lineout clicked and Zak Burger’s flick of the ball off the floor allowed Marcel Coetzee to punch in the second try, Smith converting at the posts for 17-7 in the 26th minute.

Leinster hit back before the break.

It took a delightful piece of handling from Robbie Henshaw, a typical thrust from Larmour and a Henshaw carry from a ruck to produce the home side’s second try which Byrne converted for 17-14 in the 34th minute.

The Blues’ backs were beginning to knit the passes together and the scrum churned out a penalty before Grobbelaar picked off another turnover to end the half.

The visitors pounded out the basics of the pick-and-go for almost four minutes at the start of the second in a move to go further ahead until Leinster forced a turnover on their own line.

However, they did stretch their lead when Leinster were slow to counter a Bulls lineout on the ground, the momentum generated at the maul was enough to carve out a penalty try for a 10-point lead with James Ryan sent to the bin in the 53rd minute.

They were inches away from going further ahead when Harold Vorster could not keep his feet after blocking O’Brien, the Leinster full-back beating Cornal Hendricks to the loose ball crossing the line.

A Johnny Sexton chip over the top earned a scrum and O’Brien’s grubber pinned the Bulls back until their reliable lineout became the escape route again.

Jack Conan’s steal at the ruck prompted a fine attack, oiled by Caelan Doris, that produced a penalty, sent to the corner for another lineout to leak as Ryan returned to the game.

A tremendous take by Ringrose in the air was made redundant by Larmour’s high tackle as the minutes slipped by.

Then, in one magic movement, the backline fired, Larmour hitting the line from Henshaw’s inside ball.

Ringrose and O’Brien were measured in how they drew in defenders, creating room on the outside for O’Loughlin to make the line for 24-19  in the 71st minute.

The visitors used their big forwards to run down the clock, despite Luke McGrath pinching a turnover and O’Brien and Larmour almost getting away up the right.

Morne Steyn recovered a vital two-score lead from a 76th-minute penalty.

Henshaw’s acrobatic grasp of Sexton’s kick-off and O’Brien’s thrust on the right were countered by Bulls’ patience in defence.

Leinster kept coming though, Healy getting in for Sexton to convert at the death.