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Northampton v Leinster - Live
FULL-TIME: NORTHAMPTON SAINTS 7-40 LEINSTER
80 It's all over here at Franklin's Gardens. A stunning performance from the three-times Champions with a man-of-the-match display from the evergreen Brian O'Driscoll. A monstrous 40 point victory at the home of Northampton Saints signals a real statement of intent to their European rivals. Saints must somehow pick themselves up ahead of what is now an especially daunting trip to the RDS in a week's time. Thanks for joining us.
79 Leinster have an attacking scrum in the 22 looking for try number eight. They lose the ball, and North breaks away, but is comfortably reined in and put into touch. Frustrating night for the Welshman.
77 This match beginning to peter out as Saints fail to retain possession, and Leinster remain rampant at the breakdown.
74 Leinster continue to press for a remarkable seventh try, but the ball is spilled and Saints will have the scrum inside their own half.
71 CONVERSION, MADIGAN, LEINSTER! Those five points become seven with the conversion from in front of the posts. 40 points at Franklin's Gardens no mean feat.
70 TRY, FITZGERALD, LEINSTER! And Fitzgerald does bag his hat-trick. Great break from D'Arcy and lovely support lines from Kirchner and Fitzgerald to ensure the continuity of the move and five more points for the visitors. Great stuff.
68 CONVERSION, MYLER, NORTHAMPTON! Myler converts from in front of the posts. 12 minutes to go.
67 TRY, DICKSON, NORTHAMPTON! Saints finally showing some precision and intent in attack as they set up a driving maul just metres from the line. Yellow card for McGrath too, before Dickson burrows over from point blank range.
65 CONVERSION, MADIGAN, LEINSTER! Simple two points for the fly-half, and a fitting try for the veteran who has been outstanding this evening.
63 TRY, O'DRISCOLL, LEINSTER! The lineout goes awry again for the visitors, and Saints run the ball out of defence, but O'Driscoll spies an opportunity, rushes up and intercepts the pass to stroll in from 35m. Icing on the cake. Genius.
61 Leinster reclaim possession and put together a few phases in home territory before O'Driscoll stabs the kick through and into touch on the Saints 22.
58 Scrum penalty eventually comes for Saints, who clear through Myler. An improved set-piece is about the only positive in this half for the hosts.
56 Another great line from Cronin takes Leinster into the 22, before a great O'Driscoll break allows Fitzgerald to release Reddan with the line at his mercy. But the scrum-half juggles the pass and spills agonisingly close to his second try.
54 Better from the hosts here as breaks from Lawes and North take Saints into the danger-zone, but a fine steal from Ruddock to allow Leinster to clear. And as Kearney fields another up and under, he is taken high by Manoa. Penalty Leinster on halfway.
51 It's another Leinster scrum on the away 10m line as Saints again cough up possession and come off second-best at the breakdown.
48 Peanlty Saints, and they kick for the corner, looking for a breakthrough.
46 And it is quite markedly forward from the hooker, and Leinster momentarily thwarted. We go back for the scrum on the Saints 22.
45 Oh my, what a break from Cronin through midfield. He puts away Fitzgerald for his hat-trick, but the pass suspiciously flat. We're checking with the TMO...
44 Neither side able to retain possession in the early stages of the second half. Leinster have a lineout 30m out after some aerial ping-pong.
41 Stephen Myler gets us back underway at Franklin's Gardens with Saints in need of a minor miracle. They concede a penalty from the kick-off after the knocked-on ball was played by an offside player.
HALF-TIME: NORTHAMPTON SAINTS 0-26 LEINSTER
40 Saints attacking on the last play of the half; can they get on the scoreboard?
38 CONVERSION, MADIGAN, LEINSTER! Straightforward kick from in front of the posts sails over from Madigan. To say Saints have a mountain to climb would be the understatement of the millenium.
37 TRY, REDDAN, LEINSTER!
37 Trouble again for Saints as Kearney beats Pisi to an up and under and the visitors have possession inside the home 22. And they're over! It's Eoin Reddan who throws the dummy and secures a first-half bonus point for Leinster! Outstanding stuff.
34 Saints put together a few phases in the visitors' 22, but Burrell is bundled into touch 10m out on the left-hand-side.
32 Saints enjoying a spell of possession in the Leinster half with powerful running from Manoa gaining them good field position. Errors and imprecision are costing them, but they win a penalty on halfway and Myler kicks for touch.
29 CONVERSION, MADIGAN, LEINSTER! Madigan recovers from his blip with the boot to slot the conversion. 19-0 approaching the half-hour mark.
26 TRY, HEASLIP, LEINSTER! Wonderful rugby again from Leinster! Going through the phases in midfield with big carries from O'Brien and Healy, before Madigan swoops across on the runaround to release Rob Kearney. The full-back palmed off North, before releasing Heaslip for a simple finish. Things looking very ominous for the hosts.
26 One to forget for Madigan as he screws the kick well wide and lets Saints off the hook. Leinster have it back from the drop out on halfway.
24 Leinster win possession again, and Sean Cronin cuts a lovely line through midfield. Mr Owens awards the Irishmen a penalty on the home 22, right of centre, and Madigan lines it up.
23 More Saints attack is absorbed by the visitors as Pisi knocks on, and they clear their lines again.
21 But Leinster have turned Saints over in their own 22 - it's O'Driscoll, who's been outstanding so far, who makes the steal - and the sizeable boot of Kearney clears.
19 The visitors making ground yet again, and force Myler to concede a lineout on his own 22. This time, Saints pinch through Tom Wood, and cleared by Dickson. They take it quickly, and Dickson smartly runs into the offside Kearney. Myler sticks it into touch 30m out.
17 Set-piece malfunctions again as Saints lose their lineout ball, and some aerial ping-pong results in a Leinster throw-in around halfway.
16 Great break from prop Waller has the home crowd on their feet for the first time, but the ball is lost forward and Reddan clears up to his own 10m line.
15 It's squirted out the side, though, and Leinster with a chance to attack again. Big trouble for Saints, but the visitors stray offside. Myler clears.
13 Leinster win a penalty for holding on, and Madigan takes play up to Saints' 22. This time, they spill the ball and Saints have a scrum to clear.
11 Saints regain possession, but Leinster pile in with the trademark choke tackle, and win the scrum put-in from the maul.
9 Madigan's conversion drifts wide, but Leinster lead 12-0 with less than ten minutes on the clock. They have flown out of the blocks, and Saints look stunned. The visitors now have a lineout on halfway.
8 TRY, FITZGERALD, LEINSTER! They're over again! The pressure tells as the phases build and a sumptuous through-the-legs O'Driscoll pass creates the space for Fitzgerald to step and score his second in four minutes. Boy, do Leinster look sharp.
7 Saints win a scrum against the head, but cough up possession and Leinster come flying forward again. Furious tempo from the Dubliners, and they now have a lineout in the home 22.
5 CONVERSION, MADIGAN, LEINSTER! No problem for Ian Madigan with the touchline conversion. Five minutes gone, and the visitors lead by 7.
4 TRY, LEINSTER, FITZGERALD! What a start for the Dubliners! The grubber through from O'Driscoll was fumbled by Pisi in his unfamiliar full-back position, and the ball sits up nicely for Fitzgerald to flop over the line. There is a healthy away following here in Northampton, and they are showing their delight.
2 Early mistake from Ken Pisi who calls a mark, but spills the quick tap. Scrum Leinster in the home 22 with 2 minutes on the clock. Cracking atmosphere at Franklin's Gardens.
0 Here we go, folks, Ian Madigan gets us underway! This should be a cracker!
0 We have a minute's applause here at Franklin's Gardens for the great Nelson Mandela who passed away this week.
0 We've heard James Wilson is out for Saints before kick-off, Ken Pisi shifts to full-back.
0 The Dublin giants field a backline that includes Rob Kearney, Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy in a star-studded lineup. Jamie Heaslip and Sean O'Brien start in the back-row alongside Rhys Ruddock, while the Ireland front-row trio of Cian Healy, Sean Cronin and Mike Ross are restored to the side.
0 Aside from the hulking North, USA second-row Samu Manoa has been a key part of Saints' recent run of fine form. He starts in the engine room again this evening alongside Courtney Lawes, while Dylan Hartley skippers the side from hooker.
0 Welcome to Franklin's Gardens for arguably the Heineken Cup match of the weekend. It's a repeat of the 2011 final as Northampton Saints take on Leinster. The Saints go into the clash off the back of seven straight victories, and welcome back George North to the starting lineup. Leinster, who triumphed in that final two years ago, boast a plethora of Ireland and British and Irish Lions caps. Buckle up, this should be a cracker. Kick-off in 15 minutes!
Updates to appear here at 17:45 GMT
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|14:30||Gloucester vs Wasps|
|Friday 2nd January|
|19:45||Northampton vs Newcastle Falcons|
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|14:00||Saracens vs London Irish|
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|19:45||Gloucester vs Saracens|
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|14:00||Sale vs Northampton|
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|14:00||Newcastle Falcons vs London Welsh|
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|15:00||Leicester vs Gloucester|
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|14:00||Wasps vs Harlequins|
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|20:00||Newcastle vs Wasps|
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|14:00||Sale vs Saracens|
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