Leinster completed their pre-season preparations with a 19-14 defeat at home to the Northampton Saints in Donnybrook in the Bank of Ireland Series on Friday night…

Northampton enjoyed the lion’s share of the territory early on and were rewarded with a penalty from their out-half Stephen Myler after 11 minutes. It was the jolt the hosts needed and from the re-start  Jamie Hagan linked well with Luke Fitzgerald which reaped a penalty.

Ian Madigan’s kick found touch metres from the line but Leinster’s threat was quelled. Almost immediately the Saints roared for the corner after a fine Paul Diggin break and his pass eventually found his opposite wing Noah Cato who was superbly tackled into touch by Andrew Conway.

With debutant Sean Cronin keen to get his hands on the ball and Madigan pulling the strings at out-half Leinster began to assert themselves and a series of pressure inches from the Saints line almost resulted in the first five-pointer of the bright evening.

Myler doubled his side’s advantage in the 25th minute with his second penalty of the evening to make it 6-0. The game ebbed and flowed and Leinster skipper Rhys Ruddock was a towering presence in the loose but it was the Saints who maintained their territorial pressure and Myler slotted home his third successful kick in the 36th minute to give the English side a 9-0 half time lead.

Leinster finished the opening half on a high but despite separate breaks from the likes of Kevin McLaughlin, Dominic Ryan and then Luke Fitzgerald they couldn’t breach the Saints rearguard and they went into the break nine points adrift.

The second half continued in a similar vein and a series of substitutions around the 50 minute mark enabled first seasonal appearances for the likes of David Kearney, but it was the Saints who struck the opening blow of the second half in the 62nd minute when right wing Diggin intercepted a pass to race clear and score into the Bective end of the ground.

Substitute Ryan Lamb added the points to make it 16-0 to the visitors.

It was the spark the hosts needed and a powerful Leo Auva’a burst moments later found Fionn Carr whose scorching run and chip ahead under pressure forced the Saints on to the backfoot.

Eventually Leinster’s persistence told and replacement hooker Jason Harris-Wright, with his first touch of the game, crashed over from a ruck. New Zealander Mat Berquist slotted home the points, with Mat Berquist converting, to reduced the deficit to nine points, 7-16.

Lamb added a late penalty before the industrious Carr sprinted clear of the Saints defence to score a deserved try, which Berquist converted, to give the visitors a five point victory.

LEINSTER SCORERS: J. Harris-Wright, F. Carr (1 try each), M. Berquist (2 conversions)

NORTHAMPTON SCORERS: P. Diggin (1 try), S. Myler (3 penalties), R. Lamb (1 penalty, 1 conversion)

LEINSTER:
 

15: Andrew Conway (Ian Madigan, 66) (Cillian Willis, 76)
14: Fionn Carr
13: Brendan Macken
12: Eamonn Sheridan (Darren Hudson, 63)
11: Luke Fitzgerald (David Kearney, 50)
10: Ian Madigan (Mat Berquist, 51)
9: Isaac Boss (John Cooney, 51)

1: Heinke van der Merwe
2: Sean Cronin (Aaron Dundon, 51) (Jason Harris-Wright, 73)
3: Jamie Hagan
4: Damian Browne (Mark Flanagan, 51)
5: Steven Sykes (Devin Toner, 29)
6: Kevin McLaughlin (Shane Jennings, ht)
7: Dominic Ryan (Leo Auva’a, 61)
8: Rhys Ruddock CAPTAIN

REPLACEMENTS NOT USED: Jack McGrath, Jack O’Connell

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS:

15: Greig Tonks
14: Paul Diggin
13: Tom May
12: James Downey
11: Noah Cato
10: Stephen Myler
9: Lee Dickson

1: Paul Doran Jones
2: Brett Sharman
3: Brian Mujati
4: James Craig
5: Mark Sorenson
6: Calum Clark CAPTAIN
7: Ben Nutley
8: Adam Eustace

REPLACEMENTS:

Mike Haywood
Alex Waller
Tom Mercey
Martin Roberts
Tom Hicks
Ryan Lamb
Scott Armstrong
Ben Prescott
Andy Long
Stuart Commins
Cesar Sempere
Charlie Sadler
Sam Farmer

BANK OF IRELAND MAN OF THE MATCH: Dominic Ryan (Leinster)

REFEREE: George Clancy (IRFU), ASSISTANT REFEREES: David Keane (IRFU), Barrie O’Connell (IRFU), 4th OFFICIAL: Nigel Correll (Leinster Rugby Referees), 5th OFFICIAL: Andrew Baird (Leinster Rugby Referees)