Leinster wary of wounded Saints

Leinster hooker Sean Cronin says his side are desperate to ensure there is no repeat of Saints' sensational win in Dublin three years ago when the clubs clash again on Saturday.

Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 7:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 1:48 pm
Teimana Harrison and Saints will look to turn things around this weekend (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Jim Mallinder’s men travel to the Aviva Stadium, where they upset the odds to earn an 18-9 victory against Leinster in December 2013.

Saints had gone into that game on the back of a 40-7 humbling against the Irish giants at Franklin’s Gardens a week earlier.

And they will be in a similar situation on Saturday, having been thrashed 37-10 by Leinster in Northampton last Friday.

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But Cronin, who started in the Dublin battle three years ago, insists his side are ready to ensure that history does not repeat itself.

“I just think we lost focus of the things that serve us well in the week beforehand,” said Cronin, reflecting on the 2013 clash.

“We lost the breakdown battle, they spoiled us there and our maul D wasn’t great either.

“They put lots of pressure on us, they didn’t want to kick for points, because they were going after tries in the maul.

“They spoiled a lot of our ball and they couldn’t get in to our game and the match petered out after that.

“It was pretty frustrating. A lot of us remember it well, so it’s a big focus to make sure we don’t repeat that.”

Saints hooker Dylan Hartley was sent off for striking Sean O’Brien in the face last Friday, and faces a disciplinary hearing today.

He is likely to get a ban, but Cronin believes Hartley’s absence could work in Saints’ favour this weekend.

“I always thought he (Hartley) was pretty calm and level-headed,” the Ireland international said.

“When he came on that time we managed to get two scrum penalties and I don’t know whether that fired him up a small bit.

“It was obviously rash what he did, stupid, and he’ll have to deal with it this week, whatever happens.

“He’s a class player. You could see how well they had done over in Australia and in the autumn series so I’d say there’s no one kicking themselves more than he is this week.

“I presume he’s going to get a ban, but Mike Haywood’s a top-quality hooker and it could galvanise them as well.”