European Rugby Champions Cup: Leinster 60-13 Northampton Saints

Northampton's Stephen Meyler tackles Leinster's Robbie Henshaw
Leinster recovered from a nervous period in the first half to hammer the struggling Saints
Leinster (29) 60
Tries: A Byrne 2, L McGrath, O'Brien, Furlong, Cronin, Nacewa 2, O'Loughlin Cons: Nacewa 6 Pen: Nacewa
Northampton (13) 13
Try: K Pisi Con: Myler Pens: Myler 2

Leinster remain on course for a European Champions Cup knockout spot after a nine-try humiliation of Northampton at the Aviva Stadum.

After their 37-10 defeat by Leinster last weekend, a breakaway Ken Pisi try left much-changed Northampton 13-5 up.

But Adam Byrne's second try and scores from Luke McGrath and Sean O'Brien saw Leinster move 29-13 ahead by the break.

Tadhg Furlong, Sean Cronin, Isa Nacewa (two) and Rory O'Loughlin added further tries as Northampton capitulated.

Leinster's second-half scores increased their run of unanswered points to an astonishing 55 as they inflicted a record European defeat on the struggling Saints.

Northampton's 10 changes included hooker Charlie Clare's inclusion in place of Dylan Hartley following the England captain's six-week suspension for his swinging arm tackle on Ireland flanker O'Brien last weekend.

Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder also left out big names Tom Wood and Louis Picamoles - possibly with a view to next Friday's Premiership game against Sale Sharks.

For much of the first half, Northampton frustrated Leinster at the breakdown but once the three-time European champions found their fluency, they began to walk through the Saints at will.

Ken Pisi runs in his breakaway try at the Aviva Stadium
Ken Pisi's first-half try proved to be a false dawn for outclassed Northampton

Northampton fold after promising beginning

Leinster's finishing was hugely impressive but the Irish province will be mindful that Northampton's challenge during most of the contest was pitiful.

Byrne's fifth-minute try was a warning of what was to come as a routine overlap was finished off in the corner by the powerful young wing.

However, two Stephen Myler penalties edged the Saints ahead by the 17th minute before wing Pisi ran the length of the field to score after intercepting a Luke McGrath pass near his own line.

But Leinster were back in front in the 29th minute after Saints lock James Craig over-committed himself at a ruck following a semi-fumble by McGrath which allowed the scrum-half to scamper unchallenged over the line.

Byrne ran in his second try after Garry Ringrose dispossessed Northampton try-scorer Pisi on half-way and O'Brien finished off a well-executed line-out maul to secure Leinster's bonus point by the interval.

Leinster's five second-half tries included two Nacewa touchdowns when Saints flanker James Gibson was in the sin-bin for kicking the ball out of a scrum, with Pisi's horrible fumble over his own line to concede the final score summing up Northampton's dismal evening.

The win extends Leinster's Pool Four lead to six points over Montpellier, who face Castres on Sunday, while Northampton's qualification hopes are now over.

What they said

Leinster coach Leo Cullen: "There were a lot of things that we could improve on from last week.

"I thought our guys prepared really well and put in a decent performance. We were pretty clinical in taking the opportunities that we created.

"The guys took the challenge from Northampton very, very seriously which was pleasing."

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder: "It was always going to be tough when you bring a side like we did. We made a number of changes coming to play Leinster who clearly are a side who are on fire, we saw that last week.

"We competed well to get ahead but the difference in class showed at the end.

"We're out of Europe. We were always going to struggle. We knew that before the game.

"What we need to do now is refocus. We've got some massive league games ahead of us and they are games we have got to win."

Leinster: Z Kirchner; A Byrne, G Ringrose, R Henshaw, I Nacewa; R Byrne, L McGrath; J McGrath, S Cronin, T Furlong, D Toner, H Triggs, S O'Brien, J van der Flier, J Heaslip.

Replacements: J Tracy for Cronin 48, C Healy for J McGrath 48, M Bent for Furlong 48, R Ruddock for Toner 53, J Conan for O'Brien 57, J Gibson-Park for L McGrath 58, N Reid for Ringrose 64, R O'Loughlin for A Byrne 51.

Northampton Saints: A Tuala; K Pisi, G Pisi, JJ Hanrahan, T Collins; S Myler, N Groom; E Waller, C Clare, K Brookes, A Ratuniyarawa, J Craig, J Gibson, C Clark, T Harrison.

Replacements: J Fish for Clare 63, A Waller for E Waller 67, P Hill for Brookes 51, M Paterson for Craig 51, B Nutley for Clark 41, T Kessell for Groom 72, R Hutchinson for G Pisi 41

Not used: J Wilson.

Sin bin: Gibson (54).

Referee: Romain Poite (Franc)

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