Leinster – Day of Destiny

Leinster head for GAA HQ to play Northampton Saints at 5.30pm today. 15 years on from beating Munster on Jones Road.  Leinster have been in South Africa for the past 2 weeks on domestic duty with the majority of today’s 23 being left behind to prepare for today’s battle. 2 defeats on that SA trip won’t matter too much if victory is secured this evening.

Leinster have gone for the tried and trusted this evening with the so called heavy hitters returning to see can they find a way past a well drilled Saints side who look a different prospect this year with Lee Radford looking after their defence, that miserly defence will be need to stop a Leinster attack that has fired well in this year’s Champions Cup.

Leinster have found Europe a tough nut to crack since the 4th title was won in Bilbao in 2018. They have been beaten by La Rochelle in successive finals and looked odds on to beat them 12 months ago only for La Rochelle to come out in the 2nd half of last year’s final and take the fight to Leinster and nick victory from the jaws of defeat.

12 months on and Leinster find themselves in familiar territory of topping the URC and in the last 4 of Europe looking to try and conquer both competitions. They have come up short in the past few years and have made the right noises to say they will right the wrongs of the past few seasons.

Northampton have mentioned this week that the pressure is all on Leinster given where the game will be played but unfortunately for Northampton that particular thread is well worn as it was rolled out back in 2007 with Ireland and in 2009 when Leinster first played in Croke Park vs Munster.

Leinster know they are under pressure to win today because they have been so consistent in performance that they have contested many finals and semi-finals in the past 6 years since Europe was last conquered in 2018.

Pressure has not sat well on Leinster shoulders in recent times and today will be no different and maybe given the venue it will not sit easy today either. But for all that Leinster will relish the opportunity to reach the Champions Cup final in London on May 20th.

Northampton will come here full of life and will know they are well placed to take full advantage of any slip up by Leinster and if they smell blood in the water they have shown already this year they have the fire power and defence to match many sides.

With an English half back pairing of Alex Mitchell and Fin Smith they have the keys that are well capable of unlocking the Leinster door. It will be a full blooded affair with no quarter asked or given. Northampton got a history lesson on the significance of Croke Park in Ireland and what it means to the Irish public it was given by their strength and conditioning coach who is from Ireland.

To that end Leinster have Declan Darcy in their backroom staff and he was with Dublin footballers for the last number of years and was a valuable resource to Leinster in recent weeks in the build up. Leinster will be in the Aviva Stadium and Croke Park next season owing to RDS undergoing a well need facelift so Leinster will split their time between Ballsbridge and Jones Road next year. No better way than to start there short term residency then beating Northampton Saints and going on to face either Harlequins or Toulouse in London on May 20th….

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