Fielding an extended squad in their first pre-season outing, Leinster had to dig deep as they came from behind to record an 18-17 victory over hosts US Montauban at Stade Sapiac on Friday night.
PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY MATCH: Friday, August 10
US MONTAUBAN 17 LEINSTER 18, Stade Sapiac
Scorers: Montauban: Tries: Pierre Klur, Cyril Guilpin; Cons: Jerome Bosviel 2; Pen: Jerome Bosviel
Leinster: Tries: Rory O’Loughlin, James Tracy; Con: Tom Daly; Pens: Noel Reid 2
HT: Montauban 10 Leinster 6
Speaking after the game, head coach Leo Cullen said: “It was a good opportunity to have a look at a lot of players. They have been working hard in training for the past few months and this was a good opportunity to try things out in a game.
“And, as we expected, Montauban put in a big effort as well, especially with their season starting next week so it was a very worthwhile exercise for both teams.”
Montauban, who begin their promotion drive in Pro D2 next weekend against Carcassone, went in front with a converted try from winger Pierre Klur after eight minutes. But Leinster settled and began building the phases, with James Lowe prominent at full-back and new signing Joe Tomane, the 17-times capped Australia international, impressing on his debut.
Noel Reid, who started at out-half alongside Nick McCarthy, pulled back a penalty after 11 minutes after a good phase of play from the reigning European and PRO14 champions and then cut the gap to 7-6 with another penalty, six minutes later.
After Reid’s opposite number Jerome Bosviel made 10-6 to Montauban at half-time, both teams made a host of changes with the fit-again Dave Kearney coming in for his first appearance in blue since suffering a shoulder injury in March.
The French side had lost their captain Pierrick Esclauze to the sin-bin in the first half, and Leinster suffered their first yellow card of the night when Lowe was harshly binned for a tackle seven minutes after the restart. However, the visitors responded well and Rory O’Loughlin crossed in the right corner in the 53rd minute.
His centre partner Tomane kicked the conversion wide, before Leinster regrouped for a quickfire second try through replacement hooker James Tracy. Carlow man Tom Daly knocked over the conversion which proved crucial in the end, as Montauban scored in the final play through replacement Cyril Guilpin.
Leinster are back in action on home soil next Friday night when they host Newcastle Falcons in a Bank of Ireland pre-season clash at Energia Park in Donnybrook. There are tickets from €;10 available to buy online here.
US MONTAUBAN: Riian Swanepoel; Pierre Klur, Waisale Sukanaveita, Aviata Silago, Maxime Debois; Jerome Bosviel, Paul Graou; Elvis Tekassala, Pellow van der Westhuizen, Benoit Zanon, Pierre Esclauze (capt), Claude Dry, Stephane Munoz, Jacques Engelbrecht, Amedee Domenech.
Replacements used: Cyril Guilpin, Nicolas Agnesi, Sergei Sergueev, Dimitri Vaotoa, Yan Ruel Gallay, Thomas Fortunel, Baptiste Cadiou, Julien Facundo, Paul Tailhades, Corentin Desmoulin, Christoper Vaotoa, Corentin Braendlin, Junior Maninoa, Simon Augry, Clement Briscadieu, Florent Domenech, Alex Luatua, Pierre Sayerse, Maxime Mathy.
LEINSTER: James Lowe; Adam Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin, Joe Tomane, Barry Daly; Noel Reid, Nick McCarthy; Peter Dooley, Bryan Byrne, Michael Bent, Ross Molony, Ian Nagle, Josh Murphy, Rhys Ruddock (capt), Max Deegan.
Replacements used: James Tracy, Ed Byrne, Vakh Abdaladze, Mick Kearney, Will Connors, Jamison Gibson-Park, Jimmy O’Brien, Dave Kearney, Oisin Dowling, Conor O’Brien, Tom Daly, Jack Kelly, Gavin Mullin.
Referee: Maxime Chalon (France)