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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 29 January, 2020
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Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Leinster’s Champions Cup trip to face Northampton Saints, where Leo Cullen’s team are looking to make it three wins from three in Europe.

We’ll have all the action live, so join us for what should be another European cracker between two teams who have become very familiar with each other over the years.

Here’s a reminder of the Leinster team that Leo Cullen is sending out.

Plenty of changes from their last Champions Cup outing against Lyon, with a few fresh faces offered a chance to impress ahead of the return fixture at the Aviva Stadium next Saturday.

And we’re off!

Dan Biggar with the hanging kick to get things started at Franklin’s Gardens, where the pitch looks absolutely perfect.

Let’s hope it makes for a fast, free-flowing game.

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TRY!

A nervy moment as Jamison Gibson-Park takes two attempts to gather a kick in behind. Northampton turnover the ball but a loose pass allows Garry Ringrose to find Jordan Larmour who turns on the burners and burst free. He pelts into space before playing in James Lowe who has the easiest of tasks to put Leinster 5-0 up with less than three minutes on the clock.

We go back to check for a knock-on from Gibson-Park but the try is given. Perfect start for Leinster, and Johnny Sexton kicks the extras.

Flag 7Mins

Try!

It’s all happening here.

Northampton go through the phases before Dan Biggar finds Ashee Tuala on the wing and he’s able to dive over the line. Biggar kicks the conversion and we’re level after a breathless start.

11Mins

Sexton needs a bit of treatment after a late hit, but it doesn’t look like the out-half took too much damage.

Leinster kick up the pitch, and James Lowe slaloms forward after a great take from a box-kick. He tries to find Sexton, the ball spills loose and Leinster recycle the ball, but Northampton win the turnover penalty.

Flag 15Mins

Penalty

Matt Proctor breaks up the pitch before eventually being brought to ground.

Playing with a penalty advantage a chip through bounces unkindly for Tom Collins and Proctor so the try goes begging, but we go back for the penalty and Biggar kicks the Saints three points clear.

Flag 19Mins

TRY!

Leinster looked to be in for a brilliant score after some great work by Sexton and another Larmour break but Jamison Gibson-Park was somehow tackled just short of the line by Jacobus Reinach. 

The Blues recycle the ball and move across the line and Rhys Ruddock powers over with some help from Devin Toner. Sexton kicks the conversion and Leinster take a four point lead. What a start to this game!

28Mins

Penalty

Andrew Porter is pinged for not rolling away and it’s a bread and butter kick for Dan Biggar, who cuts the deficit to one point.

31Mins

Penalty

Another manic passage of play which followed Porter catching Jacois Reinach late. Northampton play with the advantage and make good ground up the pitch as the crowd rally behind their team. 

Biggar spots a gap and makes a good break before the Saints work the ball from left to right, winning another penalty in the process, before the play breaks down and we go back for the penalty.

Referee Alexandre Ruiz has a word with Sexton, who promises that Leinster will clean up their play. 

Biggar kicks the penalty to move the Saints two points clear, but Leinster are maybe lucky that the Porter hit wasn’t checked again.

32Mins

‘Dan, Dan!’

We have an Alan Partridge moment as Ruiz tries to get the attention of Dan Biggar, who eventually responds to ‘Mr Biggar’.

He’s warned to keep his cool, while Leinster let another big chance go begging as Jamison Gibson-Park spills a James Lowe pass.

TRY!

Another eventful passage of play that started with Leinster winning a penalty for hinging against Alex Waller.

Sexton kicks to the corner and we go down the pitch for the lineout. Rónan Kelleher finds Toner and Leinster maul forward before moving the ball across the pitch. The move breaks down with a Leinster knock-on, which looks harsh, and on second viewing the decision is overturned for a Northampton player playing the ball on the ground illegally.

Sexton asks for a yellow but is politely turned down. Leinster go the corner again and maul but Northampton do well to keep them at bay, before Porter spots enough of a gap to stretch over. Sexton pulls his conversion attempt wide.

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Half-time

That Porter try was more of less the last action of the half.

We thought we might get a fast, free-flowing game and that has certainty been the case, with Leinster already putting three tries on the scoreboard. Still, both teams will have felt they left chances behind, and will look to be more clinical after the break.

Not that we’re complaining, as that opening 40 minutes was a lot of fun!

41Mins

We’re back up and running for the second-half, no changes for either side.

Flag 44Mins

TRY!

Leinster have their bonus point and it’s a very good finish by Cian Healy after some brillianct work by the Leinster pack.

It’s not all good news though, as Johnny Sexton has gone straight down the tunnel after needing treatment on the pitch. He looks to have caught his legs awkwardly while being tackled, and we’ll hopefully get an update on his condition after the game. It looked nasty on camera but the fact that he was able to walk off is encouraging.

Ross Byrne comes in to kick the conversion. 

Flag 49Mins

TRY!

Ross Byrne is barely on the pitch and he’s got a try to his name. Caelan Dorris was able to break through a ruck and Byrne was on hand to take the pass and finish the move. To rub salt in the wound Alex Waller has been yellow carded.

Byrne misses the conversion but Leinster are looking comfortable now. 

50Mins

Big turnover from Josh van der Flier as Leinster were camped out in their own 22. Really good more by van der Flier to force the turnover and his team-mates are quick to congratulate him.

52Mins

Yellow card

Garry Ringrose tackles Dan Biggar low, but he follows through and pulls his legs up as Biggar crashes into the ground. Little for Ringrose to complain about there, and Leinster are down to 14.

56Mins

Big let off for Leinster.

Northampton go close from the lineout as Taqele Naiyaravoro charges forward but a big tackle from van der Flier sees the big centre spill the ball.

60Mins

The game is slowing down a bit as both teams empty their benches. Tadhg Furlong, Scott Fardy, Luke McGrath, Ed Byrne and James Tracey are all on for Leinster, who will be happy enough to kill the pace and ride this out.

63Mins

Big spell of Northampton possession there but it comes to nothing. The move started with Naiyaravoro bulldozing Luke McGrath in the mismatch of the day. The Leinster man won’t enjoy the replays of that one.

This is suiting Leinster down to the ground at the moment. Northampton have all the possession but so far Leinster are able to just soak up the pressure. The errors are piling up for the hosts too, and this time the attack breaks down when Lewis Ludlam spills the ball. 

71Mins

Max Deegan has entered the action in place of Devin Toner, who was making his 240th (!!!) appearance for the province.

Rob Kearney also set to come in shortly. Not a bad bench option?

A moment of appreciation for Josh van der Flier.

He’s on 17 tackles, with none missed, and three turnovers. A massive game.

74Mins

James Ryan is also after going down the tunnel early. It’s not immediately clear what the issue is but it didn’t look too serious. Toner comes back in his place.

Leinster are in cruise control now.

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TRY!

Make that six tries for Leinster.

After successfully seeing out a period of Northampton pressure, Leinster go back up the pitch and patiently work their way along the Saints line until Luke McGrath is able to snipe over from close range.

Byrne drags the conversion wide, but Leinster are home and hosed with just a few minutes left to play.

Flag 80Mins

TRY!

Seven for Leinster, as Ed Byrne crosses just as the clock enters the red.

The prop did well to power over with a few tacklers hanging off him, but the Saints have really fallen apart here. 

Ross Byrne kicks the conversion.

Flag 80Mins

Full-time

That’s that, and Leinster were full value for the win here. If the first half was all about attack, Leinster’s defence proved the difference in the second.

Northampton have some big improvements to make ahead of their trip to Dublin next week, and they’ll need to be far more clinical to take something from the return game.

Thanks for joining us, we’ll have a full match report and reaction shortly, before out attention turns to Munster v Saracens later.

  

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