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Northampton Saints 16 Leinster 43
A bonus-point victory on English soil, with the Premiership leaders beaten all ends up long before the finish of this thrilling affair, is only half the story.
Even a potentially serious Johnny Sexton knee injury can be filed away as mere subplot. This ferocious battle appears to have damaged Ireland more than it impacted Leinster as Leo Cullen’s team did not miss a beat when Sexton was forced off early in the second half.
Within two minutes of Ross Byrne’s arrival at outhalf the fourth and fifth tries put the game out of Northampton’s reach. Byrne even missed the conversion of his own five pointer.
This is what happens when a team seeks to go toe to toe with the 2018 Champions Cup winners. All of Europe has been put on notice.
Leinster even out matched their bigger opponents in the physical exchanges. This was achieved by stunning shifts at the coalface from Devin Toner, Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier and the outstanding Andrew Porter.
But the main story from this game has to be Jordan Larmour, after he pretty much tore the Saints apart all on his own. Rob Kearney might well be the best technical fullback on the planet but the 22-year-old’s time is unquestionably now.
Not three minutes were clocked when Larmour glided outside Northampton openside Jamie Gibson to send James Lowe racing clear from 60 metres out for the opening try.
This same sight occurred again three more times before half-time with Leinster’s poor handling on the last pass leaving the bonus point out there. They would make amends in spectacular fashion.
The English side were determined to avoid a humiliation on their own patch of land.
Garry Ringrose kept putting his body in the line of fire but twice, Ahsee Tuala then Teimana Harrison, ran over the Ireland centre to create a try for Tuala.
That was the opening six minutes as both te
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