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WATCH: Leinster go top after bonus point win over Northampton

Leinster continued their Heineken Champions Cup campaign with a bonus point win on Saturday, defe...

Stephen Kisbey-Green
Stephen Kisbey-Green

14:53 19 Dec 2020



Leinster continued their Heineken Champions Cup campaign with a bonus point win on Saturday, defeating the Northampton Saints in the RDS.

Leo Cullen was dealt a blow before kickoff, as Harry Byrne was ruled out due to an injury he suffered during warm up. He was replaced in the starting line up by his brother, Ross.

The hosts started off well, with Josh Murphy scoring in the opening two minutes off the back of a strong run from Garry Ringrose.

A short pass outside to Dave Kearney could have seen Leinster score a phase earlier, however Murphy received the ball from the ruck to crash through the Northampton defence for the early lead. Byrne added the conversion.

The boys in blue suffered a couple of injuries as they continued to apply pressure to the Saints' line, with Ringrose and Jimmy O'Brien both going off.

Eventually, Leinster managed to get over the line again in the 15th minute through Cian Healy, who muscled over from close range from a pick and go. Byrne extended the lead with the conversion.

The Saints got one back after weathering the Leinster storm for a number of phases, as Fraser Dingwall crossed over untouched. He ran a perfect line cutting in from a ruck to exploit Leinster's folding defence to go in under the posts.

Rory Hutchinson brought them within seven, earning the respect of the hosts, who opted to take the points in a subsequent penalty.

The Saints were not to content to go into half time trailing by ten points, as Tom James brought the visitors back within five thanks to a dummy from the back of the scrum.

Hutchinson slotted the conversion again, meaning the Byrne penalty was all that separated the two sides with five minutes left in the half.

Leinster managed to extend their lead back to eight on the stroke of half time, though, as Dave Kearney was fortunate to recover a long pass that almost went intercepted.

He took off down the left hand touchline to score in the corner. Byrne missed the wide kick, taking the teams to halftime with Leinster leading 22-14.

The hosts were off to a similar start to the second half as they were in the first, with Jamison Gibson-Park scoring in the first two minutes after the restart.

Leinster's powerful scrum pushed over the visitors, allowing the newly-capped Ireland scrum half to collect the ball and pace over for the try, which was easily converted.

Not to be left wanting, though, Northampton were right back in the game thanks to a charge down on Gibson-Park from Nick Isiekwe. Hutchinson was unable to get the conversion.

Happy with their four-try bonus point, Leinster were content to keep the scoreboard ticking over through the boot of Ross Byrne. He added two penalties to take the hosts to a 35-19 victory over a very game Northampton side.

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Cian Healy Dave Kearney Fraser Dingwall Garry Ringrose Harry Byrne Heineken Champions Cup Josh Murphy Leinster Northampton Rugby Northampton Saints Ross Byrne SAINTS

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