Wood scores try on return as Saints run riot against Leinster

DRIVING THROUGH - Soane Tonga'uiha on the charge against Leinster (picture: Dave Ikin)
DRIVING THROUGH - Soane Tonga'uiha on the charge against Leinster (picture: Dave Ikin)

TOM WOOD scored a try on his return from injury as Saints ran riot against Leinster, winning 43-0 at Franklin’s Gardens.

Wood, who hadn’t played for Saints since the win against Wasps on March 24, was introduced midway through the second half and made an immediate impact.

The England flanker wrote his name on the lengthy scoresheet, crowning his comeback in ideal fashion.

Saints had already run riot, with a debut try from Dom Waldouck starting things off early in the first period.

Scores from Paul Diggin, Vasily Artemyev, Scott Armstrong, Wood, Tom May and Noah Cato were to follow as under-strength Leinster had no answer.

In contrast to the Irish, Jim Mallinder named a strong side which is unlikely to be far off the one starting the new Premiership season at Gloucester in two weeks’ time.

Summer signing Waldouck made his first start in Saints colours after coming on at half-time in the 30-28 defeat to Zebre at Millau last Friday night.

The centre got a good ovation before the game and he showed a flash of class early on as he linked up well with fellow midfield maestro George Pisi to excite the home fans.

The duo gained Saints some territory which allowed them to put the squeeze on the Heineken Cup holders, winning a penalty that Ryan Lamb booted into the corner.

From the resulting lineout the pack did its work and Lamb almost teed up Ben Foden with a neat chip through, the England full-back just not able to get to the ball first.

The game was being played almost exclusively in the Leinster half and Saints soon made their possession count.

It was that man Waldouck who found a gap in the Irish backline as he sprinted through and dotted down with one hand pointed skywards in celebration.

Lamb shanked the conversion to groans from the Franklin’s Gardens faithful.

Lamb made amends minutes later though as he showed some good hands in the build-up to a try for Diggin.

The wing flew over in the corner but was clattered in the process and was forced off to be replaced by Ken Pisi.

Saints were running riot. Leinster had no reply. And that was the case again just before the break as Phil Dowson and Foden combined to send Artemyev over in the corner.

Lamb finally bisected the posts to sarcastic cheers from the home fans and Mallinder’s men went in 17-0 up at the break.

New signings Luther Burrell and James Wilson along with Ben Nutley were introduced at the break with George Pisi, Foden and Mark Sorenson making way.

And Burrell made an instant impact – but it wasn’t the one he wanted to make – as he was sent to the sin bin.

Leinster threatened to take advantage but Saints held out with some staunch defending.

The second half was still pointless heading into the 68th minute but a moment of magic from Wilson, who made a superb offload, opened the door for Armstrong to score.

Replacement fly-half Stephen Myler converted and he did so again soon after as Wood put smiles on the faces of the home fans with a score in the corner.

May was next to score, and after Myler missed the conversion, the try scorer teed up another replacement, Cato, to dive over.

Myler put the icing on the cake of a superb Saints showing, with the Irish eyes of Leinster not smiling after a humbling at the Gardens.

Saints: Foden (Wilson 45), Artemyev (Armstrong 52), G Pisi (Burrell 45), Waldouck (May 48), Diggin (K Pisi 32), Lamb (Myler 48), Dickson (Roberts 48); Tonga’uiha (Mercey 55), Hartley (Haywood 61), Mujati (Doran-Jones 55), Sorenson (Nutley 45), Day (Sorenson 64 (Hicks 71)), Manoa (Hopley 64), Harrison (Oakley 53), Dowson (Wood 61).

Replacements: Cato, McMillan,Waller.

Leinster: Conway, Boyle, Macken, Coghlan, Coghlan-Murray, Reid, Boss; McGrath, Strauss, Moore, Cullen, Toner, Ryan, Murphy, Auva’a.

Replacements: T Sexton, van der Merwe, Hagan, Denton, Marshall, Cooney, Madigan, O’Shea, Carr, O’Connell.