North eyes Leinster double

Wed, 04 Dec 2013 17:31
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George North is targeting two wins over Leinster to keep Northampton Saints on course for a return trip to Cardiff for the European Cup Final next May.

Star wing George North is targeting two wins over Leinster to keep Northampton Saints on course for a return trip to the Millennium Stadium for the European Cup Final next May.

North knows every inch of the Millennium Stadium turf and would love nothing more than to crown his first season in the Premiership with an end-of-season trip to the home of Welsh rugby where Northampton were defeated by Leinster in a dramatic 2011 European Cup Final.

The 21-year-old burst on to the international stage as a teenager in 2010 with two tries on his Test debut against South Africa. He played in 15 international matches, including a World Cup tournament, before he managed to make his European debut for the Scarlets.

He has managed to cram an awful lot into his short career to date with a fourth place finish in the World Cup in 2011, a Grand Slam in 2012, a second Six Nations title in 2013, as well a series triumph in Australia with the British and Irish Lions.

He also touched down twice for Wales in their recent 26-30 defeat to the Wallabies in Cardiff to take his tally of Test tries to 17.

But his attentions now switch to the European Cup and trying to find a way to haul the Saints back into the reckoning for a quarterfinal slot. Back-to-back wins over three-time champions Leinster - a club Northampton have never beaten in Europe - would be just the ticket.

"It would be really nice to come home to Cardiff for the European Cup Final in May, but we have two very difficult games against Leinster to overcome before we can start thinking about that. We could and should have won in Castres in the last round, but that defeat has made our task all the more difficult," said North.

"As former winners, Leinster have proven themselves on the European stage time after time. They have a very physical pack and some superb backs, so we are expecting two high-paced and very tough games.

"The European Cup is a massive tournament and for those of us who have been playing international rugby this past month it will be a case of merely stepping across. It won't be a step down in standard in any way.
 
"For those players who have been keeping Northampton Saints going so well in the Premiership and Anglo-Welsh Cup while we've been away on Test duty it will be a step up in standard. But these are the games that everyone looks forward to."

The first in this Pool Four back-to-back series goes ahead at a sold-out Franklin's Gardens on Saturday, and North can't wait for his return to the Aviva Stadium in the Round Four clash a week later as has very happy memories of playing at the home of Irish rugby with Wales in 2012.

In the opening game of his country's latest Grand Slam campaign, he scored one try and made another in a 23-21 triumph.

"With Wales it has been a happy hunting ground for me, but this will be a different challenge. I'm sure it will be a very good atmosphere there and it's going to be another massive rugby occasion," he added.

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 15 December 2017
Ulster v Harlequins 19h45 Kingspan Stadium
Sat, 16 December 2017
Montpellier v Glasgow Warriors 13h00 Altrad Stadium
Treviso v Scarlets 13h00 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Leinster v Exeter Chiefs 15h15 Aviva Stadium
Racing Metro v Castres 15h15 Stade Yves-du-Manoir
Bath v Toulon 17h30 Recreation Ground
Sun, 17 December 2017
Wasps v La Rochelle 13h00 Ricoh Arena
Clermont Auvergne v Saracens 15h15 Stade Marcel-Michelin
Ospreys v Northampton Saints 15h15 Liberty Stadium
Leicester Tigers v Munster 17h30 Welford Road
RESULT SCORE
Mon, 11 December 2017
Saracens v Clermont Auvergne 14 | 46
Sun, 10 December 2017
Exeter Chiefs v Leinster 8 | 18
Harlequins v Ulster 5 | 17
La Rochelle v Wasps 49 | 29
Sat, 09 December 2017
Munster v Leicester Tigers 33 | 10
Castres v Racing Metro 16 | 13
Northampton Saints v Ospreys 32 | 43
Toulon v Bath 24 | 20
Scarlets v Treviso 33 | 28
Fri, 08 December 2017
Glasgow Warriors v Montpellier 22 | 29
Sun, 03 December 2017
Harlequins v Saracens 20 | 19
Sat, 02 December 2017
Cheetahs v Scarlets 28 | 21
Munster v Ospreys 36 | 10
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 32 | 25
Treviso v Leinster 10 | 36
EUROPEAN CUP
MORE LOGS
Pool 1
Team P W D L Pts
La Rochelle 3 3 0 0 15
Ulster 3 1 0 2 8
Wasps 3 1 0 2 6
Harlequins 3 0 0 3 1
Pool 2
Team P W D L Pts
Clermont Auvergne 3 3 0 0 14
Saracens 3 2 0 1 10
Ospreys 3 1 0 2 8
Northampton Saints 3 0 0 3 1
Pool 3
Team P W D L Pts
Leinster 3 3 0 0 14
Exeter Chiefs 3 2 0 1 8
Montpellier 3 1 0 2 8
Glasgow Warriors 3 0 0 3 1
Pool 4
Team P W D L Pts
Munster 3 2 1 0 11
Castres 3 1 1 1 7
Leicester Tigers 3 1 0 2 6
Racing Metro 3 1 0 2 6
Pool 5
Team P W D L Pts
Toulon 3 3 0 0 12
Bath 3 2 0 1 9
Scarlets 3 1 0 2 7
Treviso 3 0 0 3 3