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Northampton Saints 21
THE SAINTS DIDN’T so much march as tip-toe into the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening, and with just six minutes on the clock they may as well have hopped straight back on the bus to catch the early flight home.
By that stage the team currently top of the Gallagher Premiership were already 14-0 down, and the Leinster supporters still finding their way to their seats were daring to dream that their team might improve on the seven tries they bagged in Franklin’s Gardens a week previously.
This 29 point win, which guarantees their place at the top of Pool 1 of the Heineken Champions Cup, takes Leinster’s perfect start to the season up to 11 straight wins, and Leo Cullen’s team don’t look like slowing down anytime soon. They were awesome in attack here, and while Northampton did not exactly fade into the night after falling behind, the game was beyond them before they ever really got going.
Leinster looked dangerous straight from the off, and shortly after Dave Kearney superbly rose to collect an aerial bomb, James Lowe was haring up the left wing. The ball was eventually turned over but Garry Ringrose was quick enough on his feet to block down an Andy Symons clearance, collect the ball and race over.
Ross Byrne, starting in place of the injured Johnny Sexton, stepped up to kick the conversion, and Leinster were up and running.
Ringrose was over again four minutes later, but this time the score was solely down to Leinster’s brilliance with ball in hand, with Lowe and Byrne linking up beautifully down the middle before sending Ringrose through. Again, Byrne added the extras with ease.
When clear heads were needed, Northampton captain Tom Wood was then pinged to allow Byrne push Leinster 17-0 ahead.
Finally Northampton managed to mount an attack of their own, and after going through a couple of phases Symons did well to offload as he went to ground just shy of the Leinster line, with Biggar on hand to dot down. The Saints out-half picked himself up to kick the conversion, and the visitors finally had a foot in door.
Leinster’s response was to go on the hunt again, and when Ashee Tuala pulled Lowe’s jersey to prevent the wing collecting a return pass from Luke McGrath, referee Dan Jones had no choice but to reach for his yellow card.
Hooker James Tracy sent the resulting lineout deep, Leinster powered forward in the maul and Tadhg Furlong was on han
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