Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 9°C Sunday 16 May 2021

Shoddy Saints hit for 60 as 9-try Leinster tighten grip on Champions Cup pool

Northampton rested big names for the trip to Dublin and took a festive pounding.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Leinster 60

Northampton Saints 13

– Sean Farrell reports from the Aviva Stadium

LEINSTER THREATENED TO make hard work of it, but only very briefly.

Despite a short promising spell of resistance from Northampton Saints, Leo Cullen’s side managed to wrap up a bonus point win and slide it under the tree before half-time to move six points clear of Montpellier, who play Castres tomorrow in Champions Cup Pool 5.

While the collective team struggled for fluency in the first-half, Adam Byrne sparkled from the off out wide, scoring a brace of tries to punctuate scores from Luke McGrath and Sean O’Brien to remove any concern after a Ken Pisi intercept try.

Already without Dylan Hartley as he makes his way to a 60th week of suspension. Jim Mallinder rested hooker Mikey Haywood, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Louis Picamoles and Ben Foden. Big names in cotton wool, but the morale of the club took another very heavy beating.

Callum Clarke, returning from suspension to be one of the experienced leaders in the pack, suffered an early knock and was part of a back-pedaling maul that set up a try in the right corner for Byrne after just four minutes.

That might have set the table for a procession , but errors with ball-in-hand sucked the momentum out of the hosts as they tried to force big plays into the game.

George Pisi breaks away to score an intercept try Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Prematurely passing up kickable penalties often has a way of biting teams, and when Ross Byrne pointed to the corner from 30 metres out it was a statement of intent for the eastern province. Unfortunately, after Adam Byrne went close to a second try, it was Northampton who were celebrating as a poor Luke McGrath pass from under the posts was picked off by Pisi who went coast to coast.

After some TMO and scoreboard confusion when the ‘no try’ was flashed, Leinster responded well and were in the lead by the 30th minute after Nacewa opted to kick penalties again and a bright snipe around the right fringe of a ruck gave McGrath a try to balance against his intercepted pass.

Two minutes later, the natural order was completely restored as Adam Byrne pounced on a George Pisi drop, pumped his legs to shake off a would-be tackler and romp from 45 metres to dot down under the posts.

The bonus point was secured and the fight removed from the visitors by half-time as O’Brien scrambled past a less-than impressive Saints defence despite falling off the back of a driving maul.

Ross Byrne tackled by JJ Hanrahan Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Four minutes was all Leinster needed to score at the start of the second half too. The 29 – 13 advantage was extended thanks to a powerful carry from O’Brien, bumping off a tackler and passing from his knees to a charging Furlong.

Ross Byrne’s confidence grew with the gap in the scoreboard and after assisting the sixth try of the night – a deserved score for Cronin after a night full of powerful carries – he was handed the kicking tee. The 21-year-old struck the ball well, but finished with two from four attempts as Cronin, Nacwewa and Rory O’Loughlin ran tries into the corner to leave difficult angles for conversions.

The head coach’s mind had already began to drift to the St Stephen’s Day inter-pro against Munster as he emptied the bench by the 65th minute, Noel Reid the last to emerge from a track-suit to replace Garry Ringrose.

Be part
of the team

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership.

Become a Member

By the time Ken Pisi spilled Byrne’s speculative kick to the corner to gift Nacewa a second try, the 38,584 fans at the Aviva Stadium had already began to filter out. Hard to blame supporters beating an early exit when it’s a full 40 minutes of gametime since the match had been a contest.



Tries: A Byrne (2), L McGrath, S O’Brien, T Furlong, S Cronin, I Nacewa (2), R O’Loughlin

Conversions: I Nacewa (4/5) R Byrne (2/4)

Penalties: I Nacewa (1/1)

Northampton Saints

Tries: K Pisi

Conversions: S Myler (1/1)

Penalties: S Myler (2/3)


15. Zane Kirchner
14. Adam Byrne (Rory O’Loughlin ’50)
13. Garry Ringrose (Noel Reid ’63)
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Isa Nacewa
10. Ross Byrne
9. Luke McGrath (Jamison Gibson-Park ’57)
1. Jack McGrath (Cian Healy ’48)
2. Sean Cronin (James Tracy ’48)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Michael Bent ’48)
4. Devin Toner (Rhys Ruddock ’52)
5. Hayden Triggs
6. Sean O’Brien (Jack Conan ’56)
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Jamie Heaslip

Northampton Saints

15. Ahsee Tuala
14. Ken Pisi
13. George Pisi (Rory Hutchinson ’40)
12. JJ Hanrahan
11. Tom Collins (Tom Kessell ’71)
10. Steve Myler
9. Nic Groom
1. Ethan Waller (Alex Waller ’66)
2. Charlie Clare (James Fish ’62)
3. Kieran Brookes (Paul Hill ’50)
4. Api Ratuniyarawa
5. James Craig (Michael Patterson ’50)
6. Jamie Gibson
7. Calum Clark (Ben Nutley ’40)
8. Teimana Harrison

The42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us!

Late long-range penalty brings Munster winning streak to an end in Welford Road

About the author:

Sean Farrell

Read next: