Leinster just too strong for struggling Saints
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS CUP MATCH REPORT: Leinster Rugby proved too strong for Northampton Saints as they secured a 35-19 bonus point win in the European Champions Cup on Saturday afternoon.
The hosts never looked likely to be turned over by the Gallagher Premiership stragglers, who performed admirably to challenge the four-time winners throughout the match in Dublin.
Leinster made the perfect start, splitting open the Northampton defense with relative ease after a home scrum on halfway, with Garry Ringrose darting past his man and getting tackled close to the Saints line.
One phase later, European debutante Josh Murphy was able to bulldoze his way over for the opening try.
A second soon followed as Northampton’s scrum was turned over, allowing to Leinster tap and drive for the line. The initial charge was stopped but the second move from Cian Healy would not be denied as he powered over.
Northampton responded and bagged tries either side of a Ross Byrne penalty to cut the gap to three.
They first scored through Fraser Dingwall who found the perfect line, splitting the Leinster forwards in front of the posts and dived over.
The second came from Tom James who dummied and picked a gap before having the power to get over the line.
Just before the break, Leinster extended the lead to eight as Jamison Gibson-Park sprayed the ball out wide and as Northampton missed the chance to intercept, Dave Kearney collected and dived over in emphatic fashion.
The two tries in the second period came inside the first seven minutes, as Gibson-Park first ran in for Leinster but shortly after, Nick Isiekwe charged down a clearing kick, collected and scored.
That meant Leinster had bagged a try bonus point and saw out the match with ease, with Byrne slotting over two more three-pointers to add further gloss to the score.
The two sides will meet again in Round 3 at Franklin’s Gardens.
Tries: Murphy, Healy, Kearney, Gibson-Park
Cons: Byrne 3
Pen: Byrne 3
For the Northampton Saints
Tries: Dingwall, James, Isiekwe
Cons: Hutchinson 2
Leinster: 15 Jimmy O’Brien, 14 Hugo Keenan, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Harry Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock (captain), 5 James Ryan, 4 Ryan Baird, 3 Andrew Porter, 2 Ronan Kelleher, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Josh Murphy, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Dan Leavy.
Northampton Saints: 15 Tom Collins, 14 Ryan Olowofela, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 George Furbank, 9 Tom James, 8 Shaun Adendorff, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Nick Isiekwe, 5 Api Ratuniyarawa, 4 Alex Moon, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Sam Matavesi, 1 Alex Waller (captain).
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Alex Coles, 20 Teimana Harrison, 21 Henry Taylor, 22 Piers Francis, 23 Matt Proctor.
Referee: Pierre Brousset (France)
Assistant referees: Sean Gallagher (Ireland), Eoghan Cross (Ireland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)