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07th Dec 2019

Johnny Sexton limps off as Leinster skewer Northampton Saints

Patrick McCarry

Johnny Sexton


This was a fun game to watch.

Leinster have complete control of Pool 1 after their third successive Champions Cup win of the current campaign. They were forced to bring out some of their best attacking and defensive phases of the season. The only shame was losing Johnny Sexton to a second half injury.

Both sides went full tilt from the get-go and Leinster were forced to make some crucial interceptions before Jordan Larmour and James Lowe combined up the left flank to shred the home side.

Saints responded with a try of their own before Rhys Ruddock heaved over after Jamison Gibson Park went close, off another Larmour break. Northampton were not cowed and although they spurned a try-scoring chance in the right-hand corner, Dan Biggar’s penalties edged his side 14-12 ahead.

As the first half wound down, Leinster captain Johnny Sexton turned down a simple kick at goal to find touch in the corner. It paid off as Andrew Porter forced himself low and over the Northampton line. HALF-TIME: Northampton 16-19 Leinster

The try-scoring bonus point was sealed after 44 minutes when Cian Healy showed nice awareness to spot an unguarded piece of turf near an attacking Leinster ruck and forced his way over.

The cloud attached to that silver lining was that Johnny Sexton was injured in the lead-up to that score. The outhalf had his leg caught in the turf as he was tackled and his knee buckled.

Credit: Virgin Media

He was able to limp off the pitch – no stretcher required – and there was an ice-pack strapped to his knee when he gingerly returned to the bench. With the TV cameras focused on his return to the bench, Sexton covered his legs with a heavy promo coat.

Within 70 seconds of replacing Sexton, Ross Byrne was haring over in the left-hand corner after a lovely Gibson Park line break had gobbled up ground.

That Byrne score made it a 15 point lead and, spearheaded by Josh van der Flier (3 turnovers, 20 tackles), Leinster closed it out from there. There was even a late tries for the sniping Luke McGrath and the charging Ed Byrne as the four-time European champions finished on the attack.

The big question, ahead of next Saturday’s return fixture, will be if Sexton features at the Aviva Stadium.

It looks unlikely but the imperious Leinster side should cope fine without him.

OUR MAN OF THE MATCH: Josh van der Flier (Leinster)



Barry Murphy, Andrew Trimble and Jerry Flannery look back on all the Champions Cup action and are joined in the House of Rugby studio by Springboks coach Felix Jones.

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