A hat-trick of tries from Garry Ringrose along with five-pointers from Tadhg Furlong, Dave Kearney, James Lowe and Caelan Doris sealed another win for the Irish province.
Leinster got off to the perfect start with centre Ringrose going over for a try after just 90 seconds, with the No 13 blocking down a kick as Northampton went to exit from their own 22. He collected the bouncing ball and raced down the left-hand touchline to touch-down.
Ross Byrne smashed the conversion over to make it 7-0 with only two minutes on the clock.
Four minutes later and it was Ringrose who scored his and his team’s second try. The boys in blue attacked from a line-out with winger James Lowe coming in from his flank to break through the middle of the defence, before offloading brilliantly in the tackle to Ringrose who raced over. Byrne made it 14-0 with the kick from the tee.
With just over 10 minutes gone Byrne slotted over a penalty to give Leinster a 17-0 lead in the opening minutes.
With 19 minutes gone Northampton struck back as Leinster conceded penalty after penalty which led to Dan Biggar having the ball in front of the posts, taking a quick tap and go before going over for the try. He converted his own score to make it 17-7.
However, the Saints joy was short-lived with full-back Ashee Tuala being shown a yellow-card two minutes after the try as he prevented Lowe from receiving a pass off the ball.
From that penalty Bryne sent the ball to the touchline and from the resulting line-out they drove over the try-line through Furlong. Bryne was perfect from the tee once again to push the hosts ahead once again.
Things got worse for the visitors on the half-hour mark as captain Tom Wood was sent to the sin-bin too as his side gave up penalty after penalty leading to his eventual yellow-card.
Five-minutes on and the bonus-point was in the bag as Leinster ripped the ball in the middle of the pitch before pouncing forward with the ball finding its way to Ringrose, who fake passed the ball inside, but sent Kearney away on the right-wing and he did the rest. Bryne sent the conversion over to stretch the lead to 31-7.
Despite being down to 14-men the away side scored the final points of the half with winger Ollie Sleightholme charging over from close-range. Biggar knocked-over the extras to leave it at 31-14 come the half-time whistle.
Leinster didn’t have to wait long for their fifth try of the evening, with Jordan Larmour bolting out of his own 22 before being tackled over the half-way line. Byrne eventually got the ball off the back of a ruck and sent a kick through the Saints 22, which Lowe gathered and went over. Byrne couldn’t add the extra two but it was 36-14 with only three-minutes gone in the second-half.
Another five minutes and Ringrose was in for his hat-trick as Kearney took the ball up from a line-out, while it was ripped, Ringrose was the quickest to react, picking the ball up and waltzing over. Ciaran Frawley had just replaced Byrne and he kicked the extras to make it 43-14.
With the time ticking towards the hour-mark Northampton notched up a third try through Tuala and Biggar took the quick conversion to edge into the host’s lead.
As they headed into the final quarter of an hour, Doris scored his first European try as he picked in front of the opposition defence and walked over for his team’s seventh five-pointer of the game. Frawley converted to make it 50-21.
Both sides went in search of further scores but it was to no avail as Leinster ran out 50-21 winners in what was another outstanding performance and it means they become the first team to qualify for the knock-out stages after only four games of the pool stages.
Leinster will now turn their attention to the domestic stage as they prepare to host high-flying Ulster on Friday as they look to make it 12 wins from 12 at the start of the season, while the Saints head to Sale Sharks next Saturday in the Premiership.
Leinster Player Ratings:
Jordan Larmour (9), Dave Kearney (8), Garry Ringrose (9), Robbie Henshaw (7), James Lowe (8), Ross Byrne (8), Jamison Gibson-Park (7); Cian Healy (7), James Tracy (7), Tadhg Furlong (8), Scott Fardy (7), James Ryan (8), Rhys Ruddock (8), Josh van der Flier (8), Caelan Doris (9)
Big names miss out for Ulster
The back line sees just one change from the side that played Toulouse last Friday. Michael Lowry, Jacob Stockdale and Matt Faddes all retain their positions in the back three. Stuart McCloskey and James Hume are the starting midfield duo. Billy Burns returns at fly-half and will captain the side; he will partner John Cooney at scrum-half.
The front row remains unchanged for this game. Rob Herring is named at hooker, with Eric O’Sullivan and Marty Moore packing down at loosehead and tighthead prop. Alan O’Connor will partner with his brother David – who will make his first Heineken Champions Cup start with Sam Carter missing out through concussion. Sean Reidy has been selected at blindside, with Jordi Murphy returning at openside. Nick Timoney comes in to start at Number Eight to replace the injured Marcel Coetzee.
John Andrew, Kyle McCall, Tom O’Toole, Matty Rea, and Greg Jones are the forward bench options. Academy player, Ethan McIlroy could make his European debut if called upon from the bench, and is named alongside Alby Mathewson and Ian Madigan in the back line replacements.
Ulster team to play Gloucester, Heineken Champions Cup Round 2, Saturday 19 December 2020 at Kingsholm Stadium, kick-off 3.15pm, live on BT Sport / beIN Sport:
(15-9) Michael Lowry, Matt Faddes, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns (Capt.), John Cooney;
(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, David O’Connor, Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy, Nick Timoney.
Replacements: John Andrew, Kyle McCall, Tom O’Toole, Matty Rea, Greg Jones, Alby Mathewson, Ian Madigan, Ethan McIlroy.
Ulster name strong side to face Toulouse
In the back three, Jacob Stockdale returns from international duty to the left wing, joining Michael Lowry at full-back and Matt Faddes on the right wing. In midfield, Stuart McCloskey also returns from the Ireland squad to partner with James Hume. Ian Madigan has been named at fly-half alongside John Cooney at scrum-half.
Having made his international debut against Scotland last week, Eric O’Sullivan, comes in to take the starting berth at loosehead prop. Rob Herring also returns from Ireland duties and is named at hooker, with Marty Moore retaining his position at tighthead. Alan O’Connor will partner with Sam Carter, who will lead the side from the second row. Sean Reidy and Jordi Murphy are named at blindside and openside, with Marcell Coetzee completing the pack at Number Eight.
John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, David O’Connor, and Matty Rea provide the forward options, with Alby Mathewson, Stewart Moore and Craig Gilroy offering back line cover from the bench.
Ulster team to play Toulouse, Heineken Champions Cup Round 1, Friday 11 December 2020 at Kingspan Stadium, kick-off 8pm, live on BT Sport / beIN Sport:
(15-9) Michael Lowry, Matt Faddes, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Ian Madigan, John Cooney;
(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter (Capt.), Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee.
Replacements: John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, David O’Connor, Matty Rea, Alby Mathewson, Stewart Moore, Craig Gilroy.
Heineken Champions Cup Pool Draw for 2020/21
The holders, Exeter Chiefs, will play against Toulouse and Glasgow Warriors in the pool stage of the 2020/21 Heineken Champions Cup following the tournament Pool Draw which was held on Wednesday 28 October at the Maison du Sport International in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Exeter, who lifted the trophy for the first time after a dramatic 25th anniversary final earlier this month, were drawn into Pool B and will meet the four-time tournament winners and Glasgow over four pool stage rounds on a home and away basis.
Under the new format for the 2020/21 season featuring two pools of 12 clubs, reigning Guinness PRO14 champions, Leinster Rugby, will have Montpellier and Northampton Saints as their opponents in Pool A when the tournament kicks off again in December, while last season’s runners-up, Racing 92, are in Pool B where they will be up against Connacht Rugby and Harlequins.
Wasps, who were edged out by the Chiefs in the Gallagher Premiership final, will meet Dragons and Montpellier in Pool A, and PRO14 finalists, Ulster Rugby, will take on Gloucester Rugby and Toulouse in Pool B.
Munster Rugby will renew their European rivalry with ASM Clermont Auvergne and Harlequins in Pool B, while Bristol Bears’ Director of Rugby, Pat Lam, will make a return to Galway when the Challenge Cup winners go up against Connacht and Clermont also in Pool B.
For the purposes of the draw, the 24 clubs which qualified from the Premiership, the PRO14 and the TOP 14 were classified into four tiers based on their performances in the knockout phases of their respective leagues, and/or on their qualifying positions in their respective league tables.
Each tier contained six clubs with Tier 1 made up of the number one and number two ranked clubs from each league, and Tier 2, the number three and number four ranked clubs from each league, and so on.
Starting with Tier 1, the clubs were either drawn or allocated into either Pool A or Pool B so that each pool contained 12 clubs with no clubs in the same tier from the same league in the same pool.
The key principles regarding the pool stage fixtures are that clubs will only play against opponents in the same pool, and clubs from the same league cannot play against one another.
The Tier 1 and Tier 4 clubs which were drawn in the same pool, but which are not from the same league, will play one another home and away over four rounds. The same principle applies to the Tier 2 and Tier 3 clubs which were drawn in the same pool, but which are not from the same league.
The exact dates of the Heineken Champions Cup pool stage fixtures and the Challenge Cup preliminary stage fixtures, including venues, kick-off times and TV coverage, will be announced as soon as possible following consultation with clubs and EPCR’s partner broadcasters.
The four highest-ranked clubs from each Heineken Champions Cup pool will qualify for the quarter-finals which will be played over two legs, and the clubs ranked from number five to number eight in each pool will qualify for the Round of 16 of the Challenge Cup.
Today’s draw, which mapped out the first steps on the journey to the 2021 Marseille finals weekend, was conducted by EPCR Chief Executive, Vincent Gaillard, and by EPCR Commercial and Brand Manager, Anya Alderslade.
The event scrutineer was Lausanne-based solicitor, Jean-Guillaume Amiguet.
2020/21 HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP
POOL A (with opponents in brackets)
Bordeaux-Bègles (Dragons, Northampton Saints)
Leinster Rugby (Montpellier, Northampton Saints)
Wasps (Dragons, Montpellier)
Bath Rugby (La Rochelle, Scarlets)
Edinburgh Rugby (La Rochelle, Sale Sharks)
RC Toulon (Sale Sharks, Scarlets)
La Rochelle (Bath Rugby, Edinburgh Rugby)
Sale Sharks (Edinburgh Rugby, RC Toulon)
Scarlets (Bath Rugby, RC Toulon)
Dragons (Bordeaux-Bègles, Wasps)
Montpellier (Leinster Rugby, Wasps)
Northampton Saints (Bordeaux-Bègles, Leinster Rugby)
POOL B (with opponents in brackets)
Exeter Chiefs (Glasgow Warriors, Toulouse)
Lyon (Glasgow Warriors, Gloucester Rugby)
Ulster Rugby (Gloucester Rugby, Toulouse)
Bristol Bears (ASM Clermont Auvergne, Connacht Rugby)
Munster Rugby (ASM Clermont Auvergne, Harlequins)
Racing 92 (Connacht Rugby, Harlequins)
ASM Clermont Auvergne (Bristol Bears, Munster Rugby)
Connacht Rugby (Bristol Bears, Racing 92)
Harlequins (Munster Rugby, Racing 92)
Glasgow Warriors (Exeter Chiefs, Lyon)
Gloucester Rugby (Lyon, Ulster)
Toulouse (Exeter Chiefs, Ulster Rugby)
2020/21 season weekends
Round 1 – 11/12/13 December 2020
Round 2 – 18/19/20 December 2020
Round 3 – 15/16/17 January 2021
Round 4 – 22/23/24 January 2021
Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals, 1st leg – 2/3/4 April 2021
Challenge Cup Round of 16 – 2/3/4 April 2021
Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals, 2nd leg – 9/10/11 April 2021
Challenge Cup quarter-finals – 9/10/11 April 2021
Semi-finals – 30 April – 1/2 May 2021
2021 finals – Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
Challenge Cup final – Friday 21 May
Heineken Champions Cup final – Saturday 22 May