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Saturday May 4, 2024

Northampton player ratings: Pressure tells for young stars as experience prevails

Northampton Saints were defeated 20 – 17 by Leinster in front of a record 82,300-person crowd at the famous Croke Park in Dublin on Saturday.

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A game of two halves is often overused, but here we go again. Northampton spent much of the first half unable to gain a single foothold in the match after being dominated in the contact area, as they struggled to contend with the pace of a clearly pumped up Leinster side. The second half, coinciding with the introduction of a fired up Northampton bench, turned the tide completely, limiting the home side to just five points.

Leinster vs Northampton Saints Match Report

This is how we rated the players:

1 Alex Waller – 3
The experienced prop was dominated in the contact throughout the occasion and spent much of his time trudging to rucks looking thoroughly beaten. Outmuscled in the scrum by the titans of the Irish game, he looked much past his best.

2 Curtis Langdon – 2
A truly awful day for the hooker. An early knock on and a wayward first lineout set the tone for his performance. He poorly gave away a penalty midway through the first half when he failed to get back onside quick enough, and found his overall game littered with mistakes. Only a big double hit with Courtney Lawes in the centre field gave the number 2 much credit. Replaced early in the second half.

3 Trevor Davison – 3
Guilty of collapsing the scrum in front of the posts, a cardinal sin. Also wheeled round in the scrum on more than one occasion gave his side very little to work with.

4 Alex Moon – 7
A performance that the giant lock can be proud of. Putting everything into a shift that required a defensive effort above all else, his breakdown work and iron shoulder in the tackle area ensured his side were able to stay competitive.

5 Alex Coles – 7
A mammoth display in the breakdown, his partnership with Alex Moon was one of the key reason that Northampton remained in the match after the first half.

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6 Courtney Lawes – 10
Saints shining star. One of the greatest performances from a losing player you’ll see. He was involved in every tackle and ruck – causing utter chaos amongst the Leinster attack. Some lovely deft touches and great footwork in attack, he led superbly.

7 Sam Graham – 7
Huge hits were Graham’s game today, with one particular smash on Tadgh Furlong really taking the biscuit. Playing backrow in a scrum going backwards isn’t easy, but he performed admirably.

8 Juarno Augustus – 8.5
A battering ram on the charge, this physical specimen was causing carnage every time he ran at the Leinster defence. A huge part of Northampton’s resurgence today.

9 Alex Mitchell – 3
Far too many mistakes for an international 9. Knocked the ball on in the first couple of minutes, shortly after he had a major high ball mix up with his own winger, James Ramm, before attempting a panicky clearance that was charged down. Forced onto the backfoot for the majority of the evening which meant he had to revert to a non-Northampton style box kicking routine. His passes were constantly in danger of being intercepted, with one actually pinched out of the air by a Leinster player that fortunately had not the legs. Given benefit of the doubt on the fact that very few could play behind a pack that was being dominated so convincingly.

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10 Fin Smith – 2
The young fly half will learn a lot from this experience. The nerves were clearly too much today as he found his hands and feet both failing him at vital moments. He fought well in defence, but failed to gain any sort of control in a match that desperately needed it.

11 George Hendy – 7
After a poor start from the winger, he took his tries in the second half very well after being frozen out for much of the match.

12 Fraser Dingwall – 4.5
A panicky pass behind Freemans back at the start of the match was quickly followed by a poor offload to Hendy. His day continued poorly after he was caught trying to play the ball on the floor. Predominantly used as a direct runner but failed to make yards, this wasn’t one of his finer performances.

13 Tommy Freeman – 7
Largely inconspicuous in the first half, his first real noticeable interaction involved a somewhat fortunate suspected forward pass on the counter attack. The second half he was used much more as an attacking threat, using his impressive size to create craters in the Leinster defence.

14 James Ramm – 1
Targeted by James Lowe straight away. Despite holding him out for the first few tackles, he soon became subject for hunting by the Leinster backs. Conceding three James Lowe tries in his corner will haunt him for many days to come. Twice he was also guilty of poor positioning on the Northampton attack, standing ahead of the passer. Both times resulted in a knock on, with one cancelling out a certain try.

15 George Furbank – 7

Lovely to see him running hard at opposition and looked dangerous. Bottling the high ball is sacrilege for a fullback though, which he found himself guilty of on one very noticeable occasion.

Substitutes – 9

As a collective they helped to steady the unit, and allowed the side to gain control of a game that had eluded them throughout. The change at front row made all the difference as it gave Saints the chance to stage a comeback. Tom Seabrook’s introduction which resulted in a try to set up the blockbuster finish will have given him credit in the bank heading into the end of the season.

Read our match report here: Leinster vs Northampton Match Report

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