Leinster v Northampton -- Guide to the Game
Form Guide: Leinster WWWWW Northampton WWWWL
Match Betting: Leinster 1/7, Northampton 4/1, Draw 25/1
Handicap: Leinster -11 10/11, Northampton +11 10/11, Handicap Draw -11 20/1
The captain set the tone for last week's ruthlessly professional performance, not allowing himself to stoop to the childish, condescending levels of some of the Northampton players who sought to upset him. He will have led the group this week with a similar resolve to remain myopically fixed on the process. His sustained excellence for the past 12 months backbones this Leinster pack; the greatest tribute to his current influence and leadership is that Leo Cullen is not missed.
3 THINGS LEINSTER MUST DO
1 Answer the onslaught
Northampton were alone in not anticipating the fury of Leinster's extraordinary opening gambit last weekend. Now, after being embarrassed on their own patch, the world and its mother now know that they will land in Dublin 4 today seeking reparation accompanied with huge physical intent. Leinster must be prepared to repel these early blows with their own formidable power, for the Saints' fiery intent will inevitably burn itself out.
2 Fix the line-out
Viewed clinically and without the comfort of the scoreline, Leinster will have dissected their set-piece work and should have concluded that it was simply unacceptable. Losing four line-outs and two scrums was extremely sloppy. The English side will seek to gain the upper hand if this weakness reoccurs. Dylan Hartley has delivered more successful line-out throws (34/40 -- 85pc) than any other player to date this season. Tom Wood has won the second most line-outs (17), while Courtney Lawes has come up with the most steals (5).
3 Be clinical
The longer they allow Northampton to take interest in the fight -- however literally the visitors decide to interpret the meaning of the word 'fight' -- the trickier this contest could become. Leinster's physical approach was spot on last week -- so was their mental attitude. Again, they will hope to capitalise on every available scoring opportunity. Each visit to the red zone in the opening half needs to produce numbers on the board.