Leinster have defeated the Northampton Saints 43-16 away at the Franklin’s Gardens this afternoon in Pool 1 of the Champions Cup.
Tries from James Lowe, Rhys Ruddock, Andrew Porter, Cian Healy, Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath and Ed Byrne saw the away side ease past the current Premiership leaders.
Leinster had the perfect start to the game with Lowe going over for the opening try of the game after just two minutes following a break by Jordan Larmour, who left him with the easy task of placing the ball over the line. Captain Johnny Sexton slotted over the conversion to make it 7-0 early on.
However, the hosts hit back almost immediately through Ashee Tuala, who was fed by Dan Biggar on the wing and he dived over the try-line. Biggar made it honours even with the kick with only six minutes on the clock.
Things got better for Biggar and the Saints minutes later as he knocked over a penalty to give the home side a three-point lead.
Although the topsy turvy game continued with the men in blue notching up their second try just before the quarter hour mark with some nice work from Jamison Gibson-Park leaving him just short of the line. Leinster recycled the ball well and Ruddock powered over from close range. Again Sexton kicked the extras to make it 14-10.
Over the next 10 minutes Northampton went ahead once again thanks to the boot of Biggar as he kicked another two penalties.
The Saints couldn’t hold on to the lead going into half-time however as Porter slipped over following sustained pressure from the away side in the Northampton 22. Sexton couldn’t add the extras this time around, but it was 19-16 to Leinster come the half-time whistle.
Leinster began the second-half just like they did the first going over for an early try through Healy after some brilliant work from the pack. The downside for the team was that Sexton was injured just before the score, but his replacement Byrne made no mistake with the conversion to stretch the lead.
Five minutes later and Byrne was in for a try of his own as Caelan Doris burst through the opposition defence before passing to the playmaker to touchdown. Byrne missed the conversion but things got worse for Saints as Alex Waller was sent to sin-bin.
Garry Ringrose followed him to the bin a couple of minutes later for a poor tackle on Biggar.
Northampton went in search of a score to get themselves back into the game, but error after error meant they failed to add to the scoreboard.
Leinster were ruthless in attack on the other hand and when they broke into the Northampton half they made no mistake once they got close to the try-line as substitute McGrath barrelling over from right in front of the line. Byrne couldn’t kick the conversion from the touchline but it was a sixth try of the game for the four time champions with less than five minutes left.
Last season’s runners-up weren’t finished yet with replacement front-row Ed Byrne charging over as the clock struck red to make it a seventh try of the afternoon for Leinster. Ross Byrne converted with the last kick of the game to make 43-16 come full-time.
The win leaves Leinster at the top of Pool 1 and means they have won all 10 of their opening games of this season, while Northampton now face a tough challenge to get out to the knock-out stages.
To make matters worse for the Saints is that they must head away to Leinster for the reverse fixture this day next week and will be hoping for a much improved performance to try and get one over on the Irish province, but Leinster look on course early on to add a record fifth title to their name come the end of the season.
Ulster make changes for Toulouse
The Ulster match-day squad has been named for the Second Leg of the Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 versus Toulouse at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday evening.
Nick Timoney will make his 100th appearance for the Ulster men, as he is named to start at openside – with Marcus Rea at blindside and Duane Vermeulen at Number Eight. Andrew Warwick comes in to start at loosehead, and will pack down with Rob Herring at hooker and Marty Moore at tighthead. Captain Iain Henderson will partner with Alan O’Connor in the engine room.
Mike Lowry and Rob Baloucoune, who signed new 3-year contract extensions this week, are named at full-back and on the right wing respectively. Ethan McIlroy returns to take the left-wing starting berth. Stuart McCloskey and James Hume will form the midfield partnership, and John Cooney and Billy Burns are retained at scrum-half and out-half.
Brad Roberts, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell and Jordi Murphy will provide forward reinforcements, while Nathan Doak, Luke Marshall and Rob Lyttle will offer back line cover.
Ulster team to play Toulouse, Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 Second Leg, Saturday 16 April at Kingspan Stadium, 8pm kick-off, live on BT Sport, beIN Sports, and Sky Italia:
(15-9) Mike Lowry, Rob Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Ethan McIlroy, Billy Burns, John Cooney;
(1-8) Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Marcus Rea, Nick Timoney, Duane Vermeulen.
Replacements: Brad Roberts, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Jordi Murphy, Nathan Doak, Luke Marshall, Rob Lyttle.
Graham Rowntree Confirmed As Next Munster Head Coach
Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm that Graham Rowntree will be promoted from Forwards Coach to the role of Head Coach from July 1, 2022.
Rowntree will commence the role of Head Coach at the start of the 2022/23 season after signing a two-year deal.
The former England prop made the move to Limerick in October 2019 on completion of his Rugby World Cup coaching duties with Georgia Rugby.
In his third season as Forwards Coach Graham and family have settled well into Limerick life, noting earlier this year, “I have made my thoughts about this club widely known throughout my time so far, and for me and my family it really has been an easy decision, a non-decision if truth be told.
“We’ve put down roots here and have no desire to move anywhere else.”
With an impressive coaching CV and vast experience, Rowntree previously held coaching roles with the British and Irish Lions, England Rugby, Harlequins and Leicester Tigers.
Working closely with the IRFU, the province will advance with next steps in securing the backroom team that will work with Graham from next season as Head Coach Johann van Graan, Senior Coach Stephen Larkham, and Defence Coach JP Ferreira depart the province at the end of June.
IRFU Performance Director, David Nucifora, commented, “I would like to thank the Munster Professional Game Committee for their work and diligence during this process.
“It is important that Munster have someone who understands the unique history and culture of the club and has the experience to maximise the talent in the squad.
“Graham was very impressive throughout this process and demonstrated he has the capabilities to spearhead the next chapter of Munster Rugby.”
On confirmation of the promotion, Graham Rowntree added, “I am hugely honoured to be taking over the role of Head Coach for a club of this calibre, one that means so much to me and my family.
“We have thoroughly enjoyed every moment here and I fortunately get to work with an incredible group of staff and players who share a common goal each day in striving for success for this club.
“I’ve talked about our fantastic supporters before and again at the weekend we stepped off the bus to a huge red welcome in Exeter. Who doesn’t want to be part of that, that’s special!
“I believe we have the established structures in place with the resources and facilities to match and that it will be a smooth transition for the coaching ticket we assemble in ensuring continued development and success for this club.
“Before then I have a role to complete this season and working closely with Johann, Steve, and JP is the immediate focus and priority for now.”
Commenting on the appointment, Munster Rugby CEO Ian Flanagan said, “Graham’s extensive coaching experience and knowledge for the game makes him the perfect candidate to lead this squad forward.
“With Graham stepping up at the start of the new season it will be a seamless and natural progression from the work that has been carried out to-date.
“For now, we will continue our focus on the remainder of this season with Graham supporting Johann and the coaching staff in achieving our goals.”
Munster Rugby Home Fixtures
Saturday, April 16
Champions Cup Round of 16: Munster v Exeter Chiefs, Thomond Park, 3pm; Buy tickets here
Friday, April 29
URC: Munster v Cardiff Rugby, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here
Images & Content from Munster Rugby
Ulster name team for Toulouse
The Ulster match-day squad has been selected for the first leg of the Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 versus Toulouse at Le Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Ben Moxham will make his first European start for Ulster as he is named on the left wing alongside Mike Lowry at full-back and Robert Baloucoune on the right wing. Stuart McCloskey comes in to start and will partner with James Hume in the centre. Billy Burns and John Cooney return to form the half-back pairing.
The front row sees Eric O’Sullivan and Rob Herring named at loosehead and hooker, with Marty Moore retaining his place at tighthead prop. Alan O’Connor returns to pair up with captain Iain Henderson in the second row. Marcus Rea comes in at blindside flanker, with Nick Timoney and Duane Vermeulen retained at openside and Number Eight respectively.
Brad Roberts, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell and Jordi Murphy provide the forward reinforcements on the bench. Nathan Doak, Luke Marshall and Rob Lyttle will offer the back line options.
Ulster team to play Toulouse, Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 First Leg, Saturday 9 April at Le Stadium, 3.15pm kick-off (UK / IRE time), live on BT Sport, beIN Sports, FR2:
(15-9) Mike Lowry, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Ben Moxham, Billy Burns, John Cooney;
(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Marcus Rea, Nick Timoney, Duane Vermeulen.
Replacements: Brad Roberts, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Jordi Murphy, Nathan Doak, Luke Marshall, Rob Lyttle.