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Saints Edge Leinster With Late Burst

Saints Edge Leinster With Late Burst

Lock Ben Gissing scored Leinster’s only try on Friday night as Northampton Saints stole an 18-16 friendly win away from Donnybrook.

Jamie Heaslip getting to grips with David Quinlan

Lock Ben Gissing scored Leinster’s only try on Friday night as Northampton Saints stole an 18-16 friendly win away from Donnybrook.

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PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY: Friday, August 26

Leinster 16 Northampton 18, Donnybrook

Scorers: Leinster: Try: Ben Gissing; Con: Felipe Contepomi Pens: Contepomi 3

Northampton: Tries: Daniel Browne, John Rudd; Con: Bruce Reihana; Pens: Reihana 2

Two tries in the final ten minutes from the visiting Saints, who include former Leinster centre David Quinlan from the start, saw Michael Cheika’s side defeated in their final match before next Sunday’s Celtic League opener at the Ospreys’ new Morfa Stadium (kick-off 5.10pm, live Setanta Sports).

It started well for Leinster on Friday as they went 10-0 up after a quarter-of-an-hour’s play. Captain for the night Felipe Contepomi kicked an early penalty, and the Argentinean centre combined with fly-half Christian Warner to send Gissing over from close range for the opening try on 14 minutes.

Northampton captain Bruce Reihana and Contepomi then swapped penalties as Leinster took in half-time with a deserved 13-3 lead. Contepomi’s fourth successful kick at the posts from five attempts, on the restart, pushed Cheika’s men further in front.

However, an untimely sin-binning for Leinster hooker Brian Blaney on 67 minutes allowed Saints, who also had Scottish prop Tom Smith yellow carded, back into contention. Off two powerful attacks, Budge Pountney’s side managed to fight back to a 16-15 deficit as Ireland-qualified number 8 Daniel Browne (71 minutes) and substitute John Rudd (74) both touched down.

Reihana converted Browne’s effort and held his nerve to slot a match-winning penalty, three minutes from time, for a morale-boosting away win.

Leinster coach Cheika, despite the defeat, paid special tribute to the younger members of his squad in the aftermath. “I’m pleased with a lot of aspects of our game. I felt that Greg Stafford and the rest of the younger guys equipped themselves well and we’re upbeat because we know that we’re on the right path gearing up for the Ospreys.

LEINSTER: Girvan Dempsey; Brendan Burke, Greg Stafford, Felipe Contepomi (Capt), Ross McCarron; Christian Warner, Brian O’Riordan; Reggie Corrigan, David Blaney, Will Green, Adam Byrnes, Ben Gissing, Ciaran Potts, Keith Gleeson, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements used: Emmett Byrne for Green (8-10 mins, half-time), Brian O’Meara for O’Riordan (21), Bernard Jackman for D Blaney (25-52), Eoghan Hickey for Dempsey, Ronan McCormack for Corrigan (both 34), Gary Brown for Burke, James Norton for McCarron, David McAllister for Stafford, Stephen Bradshaw for Byrnes, Niall Ronan for Gleeson, Stephen Crawford for Heaslip (all ht), Guy Easterby for O’Meara (52), Byrnes for Gissing (59), Brian Blaney for D Blaney (61), Heaslip for Potts (65).

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS: Bruce Reihana (Capt); Sean Lamont, Jon Clarke, David Quinlan, Ben Cohen; Carlos Spencer, Mark Robinson; Tom Smith, Dan Richmond, Brett Sturgess, Selborne Boome, Matt Lord, Alex Rae, Darren Fox, Daniel Browne.

Replacements (from): Dylan Hartley, Damien Browne, Ben Lewitt, Mark Soden, Johnny Howard, Luke Myring, Seamus Mallon, Rhodri Davies, John Rudd.

Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)

“I was also pleased with how our experienced players fought hard. I’m pleased with our pre-season preparation. But it gets serious from next week.”