Northampton Saints came up against another ruthless display from Pool One pace-setters Leinster at the Aviva Stadium, with Chris Boyd’s side going down 50-21 in Dublin.
The Irishmen came flying out of the blocks as they secured a bonus point before half-time, but first-half tries from Dan Biggar and Ollie Sleightholme gave Saints a sniff at the break.
Leinster added three further tries following the restart, but a well-taken score from Ahsee Tuala in the final quarter had Saints hunting for an elusive bonus-point of their own.
Similar to last week’s clash at Franklin’s Gardens, Leinster struck early. Garry Ringrose charged down Andy Symons’ attempted clearance deep in the 22 before scooping the ball and haring down the touchline to open the scoring.
Less than five minutes later, Ringrose had his second. James Lowe – who was impressive throughout in the wide channels – took a good inside ball off Byrne to power his way into the 22 before a one-handed offload sent Ringrose away under the posts.
But back Saints came to fire a shot of their own. Dan Biggar found a hole in the Leinster midfield to get on the front foot, before two penalties in quick succession allowed the Welshman to kick play into the corner.
A quickly-taken penalty ten metres from the line saw Symons hauled down just short, but that did not stop him from throwing a silky offload from the floor to send Biggar over.
Leinster responded by marching their way immediately back into Saints’ 22, and Tuala was adjudged to have held Lowe back off the ball illegally and shown yellow. From the following lineout, Furlong ended up at the back of a maul that rumbled its way over for Leinster’s third score.
Saints’ night got even more difficult moments later when Tom Wood was sent to the bin after repeated infringements in the 22. The pack responded well to losing their skipper, holding up the following lineout drive to earn a relieving scrum.
Leinster’s bonus-point try came minutes before the break. A rip in the tackle from Rhys Ruddock won back possession, before Dave Kearney beat the last man to dart his way over in the corner.
Saints did finish the half on a high however as Lewis Ludlam intercepted and broke from the 22. Henshaw had enough speed to make the covering tackle ten metres from the line, but the retreating defence could do nothing to stop Sleightholme from crossing in the opposite corner.
The second half looked to have started positively for Saints as soft hands from Tuala and Ludlam forced Leinster into scrambling to prevent Proctor from scoring in the corner, but the try failed to materialise as Larmour came sprinting out of the 22 with a loose ball.
Sleightholme did well to track back and make the tackle, but a delicate chip from Byrne a few phases later had Lowe gathering and scoring in the corner.
Leinster thought they had a sixth after Henshaw got over the line following Byrne’s cross-kick, but Ludlam showed impressive resolve to get an arm under the ball and prevent the grounding. Leinster had the advantage, and Ringrose completed his hat-trick after responding first when a rip from Taqele Naiyaravoro hit the turf.
A third try just before the hour mark had Saints in the hunt for a valuable bonus point. Tuala spotted an unmanned ruck and duly picked through the gap to score under the posts, but the fourth score did not come despite a late period of pressure in the 22.
Caelan Doris rounded off the scoring to bring up Leinster’s half century with just over ten minutes to go.
Saints now turn their attention back to the Gallagher Premiership, with a trip to take on Sale Sharks on the horizon next weekend.