A near full-strength Northampton Saints side ran in seven tries as Leinster suffered their first defeat of 2012/13, 43-0 the final score at Franklin’s Gardens…
It proved a testing afternoon for the visitors, the Saints able to mix and match with strength in depth from the bench and Leinster struggling to make their possession count as they had against Gloucester a week earlier, again without their international contingent of course.
An early bout of defence denied Northampton on no less than four occasions, Leinster swarming the breakdown to claim a raft of turnovers.
It was from a far less structured phase of play that the Saints would actually open the scoring – Dom Waldouck bursting through a gap and evading the cover to slide home, Lamb missing the conversion.
Nevertheless, Northampton kept the squeeze on and with the ball shipped quickly off the back of a scrum on Leinster's 22, Paul Diggin was gifted the well-worked score by England full back Ben Foden – who would then put Vasily Artemyev away in the very same corner. This time Lamb converted and Leinster were staring down a 17-0 deficit with half-time fast approaching.
A first telling attack of the match was launched, half breaks from Isaac Boss and his half back partner Noel Reid taking Leinster within 10 metres of the Northampton line. With the posts in sight though, Saints took a leaf out of the Leinster book, committing men to the breakdown and earning the turnover that would ultimately end the half.
The second 40 started as the first had finished, Leinster on the front foot courtesy of a barnstorming break from Leo Auva'a. At the very next ruck Saints replacement Luther Burrell played the ball on the ground and saw yellow for his troubles – just two minutes after he came onto the field.
The advantage was almost immediate, Boss darting over the line and only denied by a fine piece of work from opposite number Lee Dickson holding the ball up.
It was a frustrating start to a frustrating 10 minutes for Leinster, Burrell returning with no further points from either side but a raft of changes instead.
Back to a full compliment the Saints almost added a fourth, Dominic Ryan producing a superb covering tackle on Northampton flyer Ken Pisi in the corner to keep the score at 17-0.
It stayed that way well past the hour, Leinster's scramble defence working well and a Tom Wood effort chalked off under the posts for crossing.
Just moments later though Northampton's fourth arrived, James Wilson this time providing the cut and thrust as well as the offload for Scott Armstrong and a fifth was hot on its heels, Wood getting his score in the corner. Replacement fly half Stephen Myler converted both and the score had raced up to 31-0.
The rout was rounded off by Tom May and Noah Cato inside the last 10 minutes, one laying on the score for the other and bringing about the final whistle of a disappointing run out for Leinster.
It wasn't all bad news for Leinster though. Earlier in the afternoon the Under-19s had avenged last season's defeat to their Saints counterparts with a fine 30-27 win. Tries from Ian Fitzpatrick, Stephen O'Neill and Cian Kelleher took Leinster clear and despite four tries in a strong Saints comeback, a faultless kicking display from Conor McKeon, not to mention some outstanding defence, ensured the Aer Lingus Perpetual Trophy headed back to Dublin.
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS SCORERS: D. Waldouck (1 try), P. Diggin (1 try), Vasily Artemyev (1 try), S. Armstrong (1 try), T. Wood (1 try), T. May (1 try), N. Cato (1 try), R. Lamb (1 conversion), S. Myler (2 Conversions)
15: Ben Foden
14: Vasily Artemyev
13: George Pisi
12: Dom Waldouck
11: Paul Diggin
10: Ryan Lamb
9: Lee Dickson
1: Soane Tonga'uiha
2: Dylan Hartley CAPTAIN
3: Brian Mujati
4: Mark Sorenson
5: Christian Day
6: Samu Manoa
7: Teimana Harrison
8: Phil Dowson
REPLACEMENTS: James Wilson, Ken Pisi, Tom May, Luther Burrell, Scott Armstrong, Stephen Myler, Martin Roberts, Paul Doran Jones, Mike Haywood, Tom Mercey, Mark Hopley, Tom Hicks, Ben Nutley, Tom Wood, Noah Cato, Alex Waller, Ross McMillan
15: Andrew Conway
14: Andrew Boyle
13: Brendan Macken
12: Jordan Coghlan
11: Sam Coghlan-Murray
10: Noel Reid
9: Isaac Boss
1: Jack McGrath
2: Richardt Strauss
3: Martin Moore
4: Leo Cullen CAPTAIN
5: Devin Toner
6: Dominic Ryan
7: Jordi Murphy
8: Leo Auva'a
REPLACEMENTS: Tom Sexton, Heinke van der Merwe, Jamie Hagan, Tom Denton, Ben Marshall, John Cooney, Ian Madigan, Collie O'Shea, Fionn Carr, Jack O'Connell
REFEREE: Wayne Barnes (RFU), ASSISTANT REFEREES: Andrew Watson and Nigel Carrick