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Heineken Cup Preview: Leinster v Castres Olympique

Heineken Cup Preview: Leinster v Castres Olympique

The RDS will play host to a top of the table clash in Pool 1 of the Heineken Cup, as Matt O’Connor’s Leinster side look to make it two wins out of two against reigning French champions Castres Olympique.

HEINEKEN CUP POOL 1: Saturday, October 19

LEINSTER (1st) v CASTRES OLYMPIQUE (2nd), the RDS, 3.40pm (live Sky Sports 2 HD/Newstalk/highlights TG4)

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Team News: The Leinster team to face Castres Olympique in Saturday afternoon’s Heineken Cup round 2 match at the RDS has been named.

Ireland duo Fergus McFadden and Kevin McLaughlin will both make their landmark 100th appearances for the province in Saturday’s showdown with the current Top 14 title holders.

There is one change to the starting line-up from the side that defeated the Ospreys last weekend with Martin Moore set to make his first Heineken Cup start.

The former Leinster Under-20 captain appeared as a replacement in Swansea in place of the injured Mike Ross (hamstring) who is close to regaining full fitness.

For the round 2 fixture, Moore will start in the front row alongside experienced duo Cian Healy and Sean Cronin in a pack which is all-Ireland qualified.

Jamie Heaslip leads the team once more on the occasion of his 170th Leinster outing and he is joined in the back row by McLaughlin and last weekend’s man-of-the-match Sean O’Brien.

With Brian O’Driscoll still nursing a calf injury, the province’s back-line is unchanged which means that Jimmy Gopperth will make his home European debut in the number 10 jersey.

O’Driscoll’s deputy at outside centre, Brendan Macken, will win his 30th Leinster cap as he continues alongside Gordon D’Arcy in midfield.

Michael Bent has recovered from injury to take his place on the replacements bench alongside four other Ireland internationals.

Saturday’s Leinster v Castres match is set to be a sell-out with the last remaining tickets on sale online here.

Meanwhile, former Springbok Pedrie Wannenburg, who had a successful stint up at Ulster, is one of two changes made to the Castres Olympique team for the trip to Dublin.

Wannenburg will start at openside flanker in an all-South African back row alongside Jannie Bornman and number 8 Antonie Bornman.

French international Brice Dulin returns at full-back with Geoffrey Palis making way, while South African scrum half Rory Kockott will hope to keep Castres in the hunt with his accurate goal-kicking.

Kockott landed 14 points, including the conversion of Romain Martial’s intercept try, during the 19-13 opening round victory over Northampton Saints.

However, Castres have not reached the tournament’s knockout stages since 2002 and have traditionally struggled to produce results on the road in Europe.

Their recent away form in the Top 14 – a 34-0 loss to Brive and reversals to both Bordeaux-Begles and promoted side Oyonnax – has led the bookmakers to price them at 13/2 to win at the RDS.

But the Castres coaches Serge Milhas and David Darricarrère remain quietly confident that they can overturn the reigning RaboDirect PRO12 champions, even without the injured Piula Faasalele, Yannick Forestier and Marcel Garvey.

LEINSTER: Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Brendan Macken, Gordon D’Arcy, David Kearney; Jimmy Gopperth, Isaac Boss; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Martin Moore, Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy, Kevin McLaughlin, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip (capt).

Replacements: Aaron Dundon, Jack McGrath, Michael Bent, Quinn Roux, Rhys Ruddock, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Luke Fitzgerald.

CASTRES OLYMPIQUE: Brice Dulin; Romain Martial, Romain Cabannes, Remi Lamerat, Max Evans; Remi Tales (capt), Rory Kockott; Mihaita Lazar, Brice Mach, Anton Peikrishvili, Richie Gray, Rodrigo Capo Ortega, Jannie Bornman, Pedrie Wannenburg, Antonie Claassen.

Replacements: Marc-Antoine Rallier, Karena Wihongi, Saimone Taumoepeau, Christophe Samson, Ibrahim Diarra, Julien Tomas, Geoffrey Palis, Daniel Kirkpatrick.

Referee: Greg Garner (England)
Assistant Referees: Martin Fox, Robin Goodliffe (both England)
Television Match Official: Graham Hughes (England)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Leinster to win: 1/12; Draw: 30/1; Castres Olympique to win: 13/2

Pre-Match Quotes: Jimmy Gopperth (Leinster) – “It was pretty good to get my first Heineken cap (against the Ospreys), it was one of those games that could have gone either way but I thought our defence was pretty sharp.

“It was just a good game to be involved with, the intensity was up and the boys really wanted to win and I think that desire came through in the end.

“French sides are pretty unpredictable. Castres are going to come here and look to play and we just have to make sure our back door is tied up and look after the ball, playing how we want to play, we also know if we keep our defence straight we could be on the right track.

“Castres are big boys, they love to maul and they are physical around the pitch, even with their backs so if we aren’t as physical we’re going to get shown up pretty quickly.”

Rodrigo Capo Ortega (Castres Olympique) – “We played a solid game against Northampton but we will have to bring it to yet another level in Dublin this weekend.

“Our goal will be to produce the same performance in defence but, at the same time, to have a better set piece to get possession.

“We had certain plans in the lineout against Northampton but they read it well. We’re going to have to work on that.

“We’ll have to hold the ball to build a good performance in attack, instead of watching the Irish like we did the Saints.”

Current Form – Leinster – (RaboDirect PRO12): Won 42-19 away to the Scarlets; Drew 29-29 at home to the Ospreys; Lost 12-6 away to Glasgow Warriors; Won 34-20 at home to the Cardiff Blues; Lost 19-15 away to Munster; (Heineken Cup): Won 19-9 away to the Ospreys

Castres Olympique – (Top 14 Championship): Lost 26-23 away to Perpignan; Won 34-6 at home to Grenoble; Lost 21-20 away to Bordeaux-Begles; Won 38-10 at home to Stade Francais; Lost 19-9 away to Oyonnax; Won 22-15 at home to Toulon; Lost 26-9 away to Toulouse; Won 19-15 at home to Racing Métro 92; Lost 34-0 away to Brive; (Heineken Cup): Won 19-13 at home to Northampton Saints

Top Scorers – 2013/14 Heineken Cup: Leinster – Points: Jimmy Gopperth 14; Tries: Sean O’Brien 1; Castres Olympique – Points: Rory Kockott 14; Tries: Romain Martial 1

Previous European Meetings: 2

Friday, December 13, 2008 – Pool 2 – Castres Olympique 18 Leinster 15, Stade Pierre Antoine
Saturday, December 6, 2008 – Pool 2 – Leinster 33 Castres Olympique 3, the RDS

Match Facts And Figures –

– Leinster’s defeat to Clermont Auvergne last season ended a series of 12 consecutive victories over French clubs at home, a run that included a 33-3 win over Castres Olympique in 2008

– Castres have won just two of their last 21 away games in the Heineken Cup (18 defeats and one draw) and in Ireland, they have lost all seven of their games

– Only Racing Métro 92 (161) made more tackles than Leinster (153) during the opening weekend of action in the Heineken Cup

– Fergus McFadden (14) and Gordon D’Arcy (13) made the most tackles by Leinster players in round 1 with both maintaining a 100% success rate

Heineken Cup Records:

Leinster –
2012/13: Failed to qualify from Pool 5
2011/12: Champions
2010/11: Champions
2009/10: Reached the semi-finals
2008/09: Champions
2007/08: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
2006/07: Reached the quarter-finals
2005/06: Reached the semi-finals
2004/05: Reached the quarter-finals
2003/04: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
2002/03: Reached the semi-finals
2001/02: Reached the quarter-finals
2000/01: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
1999/00: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
1998/99: Failed to qualify from Pool A
1997/98: Failed to qualify from Pool A
1996/97: Failed to qualify from Pool B
1995/96: Reached the semi-finals

Castres Olympique –
2012/13: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
2011/12: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
2010/11: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
2008/09: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
2006/07: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
2005/06: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
2004/05: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
2001/02: Reached the semi-finals
2000/01: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
1995/96: Failed to qualify from Pool D