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Dublin: 7 °C Sunday 16 December, 2018


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Good evening and welcome to our live coverage of Leinster’s Champions Cup clash with Northampton Saints from the Aviva Stadium.

Ryan Bailey here to guide you through all the action as it happens while Sean Farrell is in position, in plenty of layers, at the ground.

Kick-off is at 7.45pm, but before then we’re over here following the closing stages of Connacht’s tense battle with Wasps.

Adam Byrne and Josh Van der Flier before the game Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Isa Nacewa and George Pisi with Referee Romain Poite at the coin toss Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Garry Ringrose Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

EPCR balls Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Not long until kick-off at Lansdowne Road and with the atmosphere and anticipation building, let’s take a final look at the teams for tonight.

Leo Cullen was forced into two changes from the side that beat tonight’s opponents last week, with Rob Kearney and Joey Carbery both missing through injury. Zane Kirchner and Ross Byrne are including in the starting XV.


15. Zane Kirchner
14. Adam Byrne
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Isa Nacewa
10. Ross Byrne
9. Luke McGrath

1. Jack McGrath
2. Sean Cronin
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Devin Toner
5. Hayden Triggs
6. Sean O’Brien
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Jamie Heaslip


16. James Tracy
17. Cian Healy
18. Michael Bent
19. Rhys Ruddock
20. Jack Conan
21. Jamison Gibson-Park
22. Noel Reid
23. Rory O’Loughlin

Northampton Saints:

15. Ahsee Tuala
14. Ken Pisi
13. George Pisi
12. JJ Hanrahan
11. Tom Collins
10. Steve Myler
9. Nic Groom

1. Ethan Waller
2. Charlie Clare
3. Kieran Brookes
4. Api Ratuniyarawa
5. James Craig
6. Jamie Gibson
7. Calum Clark
8. Teimana Harrison


16. James Fish
17. Alex Waller
18. Paul Hill
19. Michael Paterson
20. Ben Nutley
21. Tom Kessell
22. Rory Hutchinson
23. James Wilson

Incredible finish in Galway! A late try and a superb touchline conversion from Jack Carty sees Connacht snatch victory right at the death.

All our focus is now on the Aviva Stadium and Pool 4.

Leinster can consolidate their position at the top of the group with back-to-back victories over the Premiership side. This is how things stand ahead of kick-off:


Just about set in Dublin with both teams ready and waiting in the tunnel area. A crowd of around 40,000 expected here tonight on what is a chilly December night in the capital.

The Northampton Saints team huddle Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Josh Van der Flier Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

JJ Hanrahan Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Ross Byrne Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


Early possession for Leinster and they’re keeping ball in hand before Luke McGrath sends it up field with the box-kick.


Toner charges down Nic Groom’s attempted clearance kick and van der Flier charges through to hack it on — but the flanker is unable to gather it and the chance is gone as Northampton desperately filter back.


Solid attacking platform provided by the lineout and a strong rolling maul. Leinster charging into the tackles and attacking with great purpose. Into the fifth phase already and the Saints are stretched.


Try yes or no?

Leinster work it out wide to Byrne and he looks to have finished it in the corner.

Flag 5Mins

TRY! Leinster 5-0 Northampton (Byrne)

And the TMO confirms that Byrne got that down under pressure from the cover tackle. That’s the UCD man’s sixth try of the season and just reward for Leinster’s fast start.

Nacewa, meanwhile, is unable to add the extras from this near touchline.


Leinster forced to do a bit of defensive work for the first time and they concede the penalty for crossing. It gives Saints the opportunity to get their first points on the board.

But Myler snatches at that and Northampton remain scoreless. That was the out-half’s first miss of the European campaign and it was a particularly bad one. A let-off for Leinster.


Adam Byrne opened the scoring with a nice finish in the corner.

Adam Byrne score the first try of the game Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


Northampton have responded well and they’ve enjoyed a bit of territory during the last few minutes. The Saints are just beginning to ask questions of Leinster’s rearguard and Sean O’Brien is penalised for not rolling away on that occasion.

Flag 13Mins

PENALTY! Leinster 5-3 Northampton (Myler)

Myler makes no mistake this time and the Saints are on the board. The visitors have responded incredibly well to that early Byrne try and they’ve worked their way back into the contest.


Leinster concede another penalty and they’re getting on the wrong side of Romain Poite. Stephen Myler has called for the kicking tee again.

Flag 17Mins

Penalty! Leinster 5-6 Northampton (Myler)

He’s found his radar now! Myler dissects the posts and Northampton have the lead for the first time.


Brilliant from Luke McGrath to gather the restart and good work from van der Flier to keep the momentum going.

But it all breaks down soon after as Kirchner isn’t on the same page as Byrne and his pass sails into touch on this near side.


Northampton are penalised for being offside and Byrne trots over to kick for touch.

Cronin finds Heaslip and Leinster set the rolling maul in motion. It’s well-defended by the Saints but Leinster have go forward ball.

Flag 21Mins

TRY! Leinster 5-13 Northampton (Pisi)

Unbelievable! Leinster are inches from the Saints line as Byrne makes another powerful burst. McGrath looks to capitalise and throw it wide but his pass is intercepted by Pisi and the winger has the freedom of Dublin to run under the posts.

The referee is going upstairs to double-check he wasn’t offside and finally it’s awarded.

That is a huge score and Myler adds the extras from under the posts. A 14-point turnaround — how big will that prove to be?


Leinster eager to regain control of this game and they win the penalty after Gibson was penalised at the lineout. Nacewa points to the posts.

Flag 25Mins

Penalty! Leinster 8-13 Northampton (Nacewa)

Nacewa slots that over nicely and Leinster keep things ticking over with a 25th minute penalty.


Much better from Leinster as they put Northampton under pressure and eventually win the turnover penalty. Byrne takes it quickly and kicks crossfield where Adam Byrne is in acres of space — but the bounce of the ball is unkind and it goes into touch.


TRY! Leinster 15-13 Northampton (Luke McGrath)

Just what the doctor ordered! McGrath tricks the Northampton defence and instead of giving it, ducks inside and weaves through the tackles to dart over the line. It all came from a sustained period of Leinster pressure.

TRY! Leinster 22-13 Northampton (Byrne)

That’s two in quick succession for Leinster and two for Adam Byrne! Ringrose forces Pisi to knock on in contact and Byrne collects the loose ball and has too much pace and power for the exposed Saints defence as he runs it in from 40 yards out.


Leinster right on top now. Heaslip with the sort of unheralded work around the breakdown that has made him such an influential player both in green and the blue of Leinster. Five minutes until the break.


Another charge down by McGrath but just when it looks like the scrum-half is going to collect the loose ball to dot down, Groom comes across and just does enough to force the fumble.


Big hit on Henshaw but Leinster retain possession and chip away at Northampton. With advantage coming, Byrne looks crossfield again but his kick isn’t as accurate as last week and the Saints deal with it.


TRY! Leinster 27-13 Northampton (O’Brien)

Bonus-point secured before half-time as JVDF gathers the lineout, the pack make the yards and then O’Brien tunnels his way through to dive over.

Half-time! Leinster 29-13 Northampton 

Flag 40Mins

Back underway in Dublin. Northampton have made one change with Pisi being replaced by Rory Hutchinson.

Flag 43Mins

TRY! Leinster 36-13 Northampton (Furlong)

That’s number five! Wave after wave of pressure from Leinster eventually tells as Furlong applies the finish with a powerful burst towards the line.


Leinster are running riot now. Cronin shows great pace to scythe through the Northampton defence and into midfield. Joe Schmidt, meanwhile, receives a big ovation when he’s shown on the big screen.

Flag 49Mins

TRY! Leinster 43-13 Northampton (Cronin)

So, so easy. Cronin starts, and finishes the move in the corner as Leinster score their sixth try. Byrne takes on the kicking duties and nails it from the touchline.


With the points sealed, Leo Cullen has changed his entire front row while Adam Byrne is also replaced by Rory O’Loughlin. Tracy, Healy and Bent also on.


Northampton under all sorts of pressure again and Jamie Gibson is sent to the bin for illegally stopping Leinster in their tracks. The hosts opt for another scrum, 10 metres out.

Flag 55Mins

TRY! Leinster 48-13 Northampton (Nacewa)

The blue flags are flying again as Nacewa gets in on the act as it goes wide. The captain ducks inside and shows great power to get the ball down under pressure. Byrne’s conversion is just pushed wide.


An embarrassing evening for Northampton and Jim Mallinder continues to get worse. Down to 14 men, the visitors are in serious danger of leaking more tries here with still over 20 minutes to go.


Luke McGrath receives a big ovation as he is replaced by Jamison Gibson-Park. A fine evening for the recently capped Irish international.

Flag 62Mins

TRY! Leinster 55-13 Northampton (O’Loughlin)

That’s number eight! Leinster make the extra man count as O’Loughlin marks his arrival for Byrne with a try.


The attendance at the Aviva Stadium tonight is 38, 584 — and they’ve certainly had plenty of entertainment, if not a competitive game.

A general view of the Aviva Stadium as both sides enter the pitch Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Flag 72Mins

TRY! Leinster 60-13 Northampton (Nacewa)

Oh dear, oh dear. Byrne sends another crossfield kick towards the corner and Pisi should deal with it comfortably but inexcusably fumbles it and Nacewa is on hand to capitalise and score his second of the night.

You’ve got to feel for the Northampton fans who have spent large amounts of money to come over to Dublin a week before Christmas for this.

Leinster, to their credit, are continuing to press and look for more. A truly clinical and ruthless performance.

Thanks for joining us this evening. Until next time, goodbye!

About the author:

Ryan Bailey