Rugby Column Number 66: The Kildare Nationalist – December 13 2016


Leinster’s win over Northampton comes at a cost

By Daire Walsh

FOLLOWING their emphatic 37-10 triumph over Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Garden on Friday evening, Leinster find themselves in pole position in Pool Four of the European Rugby Champions Cup – but an injury sustained by Athy’s Joey Carbery looks set to rule him out of the return game at the Aviva Stadium this Saturday.

The Blues were hoping to make headway against the club they famously defeated in the 2011 Heineken Cup decider, and from this perspective it was mission accomplished for Leo Cullen’s charges – who welcome the Aviva Premiership outfit back to the Aviva Stadium this Saturday.

For the province’s third game in this season’s top-tier European competition, there was no less than four Kildare natives included in the match-day squad. After sitting out last weekend’s win against Newport Gwent Dragons, Jamie Heaslip featured in the back-row, while Joey Carbery and Adam Byrne were vital cogs in a potentially explosive backline.

Byrne was making his European debut for Leinster, while his Kill compatriot – James Tracy – was named on the replacements bench. It was another big opportunity for Carbery to impress in the absence of Jonathan Sexton, but injury forced him out of the game in the 15th-minute.

However, the visitors had established a 10-0 lead by this stage in the contest, thanks in large part to an opening minute try by Garry Ringrose, and five points from the boot of Nacewa. A Stephen Myler penalty did help Northampton to eat into the Leinster cushion, though, and they restored parity six minutes after the restart with a converted score by Ahsee Tuala.

Yet, the Blues regained control with a 56th-minute try from O’Brien, and when Northampton’s Dylan Hartley was subsequently red-carded for a striking offence on the Carlow man, it looked like the Saints were heading for their second consecutive defeat in the pool. It was during this juncture that Tracy replaced experienced Irish international Sean Cronin, and courtesy of additional tries from Rory O’Loughlin, Jamison Gibson-Park and Nacewa, Leinster returned home with a much-desired bonus-point.

Meanwhile, Leinster ‘A’ got their British & Irish Cup Pool Four campaign back on track at Donnybrook Stadium on Saturday, as they recorded a comprehensive 65-13 success over Scarlets Premiership Select.

Athy’s Jeremy Loughman and Jimmy O’Brien of Eadestown (a former Newbridge College student) were named in the starting line-up for this game by coach Hugh Hogan, and thanks to opening period tries by Tom Daly (two), Andrew Porter, Hugo Keenan, Peadar Timmins and Jack Kelly, they were 41-3 to the good at the midway point.

Scarlets did claim a brace of five-pointers through Josh Macleod and Tom Williams in the second period, but with Jordan Larmour (two), Max Deegan and Jack Power all crossing over, Leinster ‘A’ returned to the summit of the pool table.

The Leinster women’s side were also in action at the Dublin 4 venue on Saturday night, when they easily overcame the challenge of Ulster in the Interprovincial Series. Kilcullen’s Jenny Murphy contributed 11 points from outside centre in a 46-0 win, and they have now set-up a crunch encounter with Munster in Donnybrook this Saturday afternoon.

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