Leinster Rugby broke clear of a determined Ulster side in the second half to record a 27-5 final win at Aviva Stadium and become the first-ever Guinness PRO14 three-in-a-row champions.

Robbie Henshaw’s 45th-minute intercept try and a closing score from Caelan Doris were the highlights as Leinster claimed their fifth PRO14 title in eight years, taking their overall record haul to seven league crowns.

James Lowe exchanged tries with Ulster’s James Hume inside an exciting opening 12 minutes, with a well-struck conversion and a further penalty from Ross Byrne edging Leo Cullen’s men into a 10-5 half-time lead.

Former All Black Alby Mathewson was to the fore of Ulster’s impressive challenge, but Leinster went up a gear to complete an unbeaten PRO14 season of 17 matches and maintain their winning form ahead of next Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final visit of Saracens.

Buoyed by their late semi-final heroics in Edinburgh, Ulster enjoyed a dream start to their first final appearance since 2013. Alan O’Connor’s pull-back pass released Hume from 40 metres out and the young centre got away from Ronan Kelleher and Lowe to brilliantly score near the left corner.

Billy Burns was unable to convert the third-minute opener and Leinster built patiently for a well-executed response, nine minutes later. Jamison Gibson-Park’s cut-out pass put Lowe over out wide, the conversion neatly supplied by Byrne for a 7-5 lead.

Ulster should have made more of a Mathewson-inspired break midway through the first half, with captain Iain Henderson showing his appetite for ball-in-hand on his return from hip surgery.

A close-range Byrne penalty doubled Leinster’s advantage in the 26th minute, as Doris, Guinness player-of-the-match Josh van der Flier and Andrew Porter made a series of important interventions at the breakdown.

However, a misfiring lineout and some sloppy penalties caused concern for the 2018 and 2019 champions. Ulster had a lot of front-foot ball approaching the interval and were made to regret turning down a couple of place-kicks, one inside the 22.

Leinster began the second half with a booming Byrne penalty goal and the killer blow arrived just moments later. Henshaw gobbled up a Burns pass just inside the Ulster half and stayed clear of the chasing Michael Lowry to go in under the posts.

With Byrne’s conversion making it 20-5, it was a long way back for the Ulstermen who travel to Toulouse next week in Europe’s last-eight. Lowe was bubbling with attacking intent, but Ulster scrambled well to haul down both Jordan Larmour and Garry Ringrose, Leinster’s first-time skipper.

Ulster were struggling to make metres as Leinster’s swarming defence made sure Jacob Stockdale and Marcell Coetzee were kept quiet. The clinching try arrived nine minutes from the end, Doris powerfully driving in under the posts with the freshly-introduced Jonathan Sexton converting.

As Leinster turn their focus back to Europe, returning lock James Ryan provided a fitness boost by getting over 60 minutes under his belt. In a fitting tribute, long-serving duo Rob Kearney and Fergus McFadden were given the honour of lifting the PRO14 trophy at the post-match presentation.