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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 14 December, 2018

Leinster wait on SOB, Carbery and Kearney injuries after big win in Northampton

Leo Cullen was pleased with his side’s five-try win in Franklin’s Gardens.

Murray Kinsella reports from Franklin’s Gardens

SOMEWHAT TYPICALLY, LEO Cullen wasn’t overflowing with happiness after Leinster’s win in Northampton, but he will fly back to Dublin with a glow of satisfaction after a bonus-point victory on the road.

There will, however, be some concern over the fitness of Rob Kearney, Sean O’Brien and Joey Carbery after they picked up injuries in the five-try 37-10 win.

Jamison Gibson-Park scores a try and is congratulated by Josh Van Der Flier, James Treacy and Garry Ringrose Leinster celebrate Jamison Gibson-Park's try. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“A pleasing outcome,” was Cullen’s immediate post-match assessment at Franklin’s Gardens. “It reminded me of three years ago, when it was 40-7 that night.

“I thought we started well. We lost our way a little bit after that. We had some chances up on their try line, and I thought we were a little bit ragged with some of our exits and fielding high balls got us into a bit of trouble at times.

“But the lads showed good composure just to get a little bit of momentum back in our favour, and obviously once the red card happens, then I thought we were pretty clinical in the way we played in terms of managing the game in the right areas and just taking the opportunities when they came.

“It was pleasing that we closed the game out, but there were areas that we can definitely be better at, so we’ll have a good look over the weekend and try and make a few changes when we come in for Monday.”

The red card for Dylan Hartley was a turning point in the tie and will surely bring about a hefty ban for a man who has already served 54 weeks of suspensions during his career.

Sean O’Brien was replaced after the blow to his head and underwent a Head Injury Assessment. Asked if he was disappointed to see one of his players injured in that manner, Cullen was clear that a red card was a fitting punishment.

“It’s a swinging arm to the head,” said Cullen. “We’ve enough to worry about ourselves, we just need to worry about trying to play the game and let the officials worry about policing the game. We’ll see how Seanie is and maybe comment after that.”

Carbery and Kearney both suffered ankle injuries, with the out-half forced off after only 16 minutes and then the fullback following him early in the second half.

“They both tried to run it off, Joey for probably a bit longer,” said Cullen. “Rob did his just before half-time and he felt probably a bit happier. I wasn’t sure about him running around but he felt pretty keen to continue, and we made the call anyway.”

Rob Kearney leaves the field injured Kearney was replaced early in the second half. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Ross Byrne made his European debut off the bench as the replacement for Carbery, although he too suffered an injury with a wound to the head late on.

Presuming that heals before next weekend’s return tie with the Saints, the former St. Michael’s student may find himself in the 10 shirt.

Cathal Marsh and Johnny Sexton are already out injured, with Carbery now potentially joining them on the sidelines.

“We’ll see!” said Cullen when asked what Leinster’s options at out-half are ahead of next weekend in Dublin. “We’ll see how all our 10s are.

“Cathal is still out, Johnny has been well documented, so we’ll see how he is. Obviously, Ross came in today and I thought he did well. He got a bit of a gash on the head as well.

“After that, Isa Nacewa has played a bit at 10 a long time ago and Noel Reid has played a bit at 10. He was injured going into this game as well, where he went off early last week.

“We’ll assess him and after that we’ll see. That’s who’s in the European squad at the moment. That’s the beauty of picking a 41-man squad and we’ll make some calls, see who’s fit and at least we’ve got an eight-day turnaround.

“But it’s going to be tight in getting guys back.”

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Murray Kinsella

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