Johnny Sexton marks return to action with a try as Leinster see off Harlequins

Leo Cullen’s side run in six tries at the Aviva stadium in pre-season match

Leinster’s Johnny Sexton scores a try despite Tommy Allan of the Harlequins efforts during the pre-season game at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Leinster 40 Harlequins 21

Johnny Sexton enjoyed a try-scoring return to action at the Aviva Stadium on Friday night as Leinster secured a convincing 19-point triumph over Harlequins in a pre-season encounter.

Making his first appearance in five months, Sexton supplied the bonuses to a third-minute breakthrough try from Conor O’Brien. This lead was short-lived, however, as Quins centre Luke Northmore crashed over for a converted score just six minutes later.

There was a lengthy stoppage just past the first-quarter mark so that Leinster fullback Chris Cosgrave could receive treatment. He was eventually replaced by Liam Turner, but the Blues pushed on impressively in his absence.


After adding the extras to a Scott Penny try, Sexton contributed an excellent seven-point salvo. The lively Jamie Osborne also crossed the whitewash to ensure Leinster brought a commanding 28-7 cushion into the interval.

Leinster fans at Friday night’s pre-season match at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

One of a plethora of internationals named among their replacements, Ryan Baird bagged a fifth try for the home team on the resumption. It was becoming an increasingly one-sided affair, until Quins winger Joe Marchant touched down on 51 minutes.

Considering the number of changes both sides made as the action progressed, it was understandable that the game started to peter out as a contest. It was a full 20 minutes before the next score of the game arrived and it was the visitors from London who once again breached the Leinster rearguard.

One of the brightest prospects in the Quins academy, hooker Sam Riley applied the finishing touches for his side’s third try.

Still, with 15,000 spectators permitted to attend this game, Leinster were determined to finish on a high. A Grand Slam winner with the Ireland under-20s in 2019, Turner pounced on a loose ball in the 79th minute to round off a productive night for Leo Cullen’s side.

SCORERS – Leinster: J Sexton try, 4 cons, C O'Brien, S Penny, J Osborne, R Baird, L Turner try each, R Byrne con. Harlequins: L Northmore, J Marchant, S Riley try each, T Allan 3 cons.

LEINSTER: C Cosgrave; R Russell, J Osborne, C O'Brien, J Lowe; J Sexton, L McGrath; P Dooley, D Sheehan, M Ala'alatoa; D Toner, B Deeny; R Ruddock, S Penny, M Deegan.

Replacements: C Healy, S Cronin, J Tracy, V Abdaladze, R Molony, R Baird, M Moloney, C Foley, R Byrne, D Hawkshaw, L Turner, N Comerford.

HARLEQUINS: T Green; J Marchant, L Northmore, A Esterhuizen, L Lynagh; T Allan, D Care; S Garcia Botta, J Walker, S Kerrod; H Tizard, D Lamb; T Lawday, J Kenningham, A Dombrandt.

Replacements: S Riley, G Head, F Baxter, W Collier, C Trenier, M Jurevicius, G Hammond, L Wallace, A White, S Steele, W Edwards, R Chisholm, L Anyanwu, H Jones, C Murley, N David.