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Leinster Overcome Castres For Third Pool Win

Leinster Overcome Castres For Third Pool Win

Leinster strengthened their position at the top of Heineken Cup Pool 2 as a trio of second half tries helped them to a 33-3 victory over Castres Olympique at the RDS.

Bernard Jackman, Brian O’Driscoll and replacement Simon Keogh all crossed the French side’s whitewash but Leinster’s push for a bonus point try came too late.

On the balance of play and for all their effort, the Irish province would not have deserved the extra point as they were nowhere near as potent as they were last time out in Europe against Wasps.

Castres travelled with a mostly second string line-up – injured captain Lionel Nallet was among those missing – and they kept big guns like All Blacks Chris Masoe and Carl Hoeft and quality place kicker Romain Teulet in check for next week’s return match.

Currently second-from-bottom in the French Championship, the visitors made some early headway with Kevin Senio and Steve Kefu getting ball in hand.

They engineered the first scoring chance after Malcolm O’Kelly had infringed at a midfield ruck, but Anthony Lagardere’s second-minute effort dropped under the crossbar.

Leinster made some uncharacteristic handling errors early on and it was the line-out where they looked most assured, with man-of-the-match Devin Toner literally head and shoulder above everyone in the set piece.

With Felipe Contepomi absent due to a hand infection, Jonathan Sexton started at number 10 and he showed his worth with three sure-footed penalty kicks – after 14, 19 and 29 minutes – which handed Leinster a 9-0 half-time lead.

The hosts’ try-scoring opportunities were limited in the opening half.

After lineout steals from Rocky Elsom and O’Kelly, the former spilled the ball in contact just inches from the line.

Stan Wright also went close to breaking the deadlock and Lagardere had to be alert to thwart an advancing O’Driscoll.

Castres lost South African flanker Darron Nell to a knee injury before the interval and coming under more pressure on the restart, they buckled.

Shane Horgan kicked into space, got a favourable bounce and was able to offload for the supporting Jackman to score close to the posts in the 47th minute.

Sexton tapped over the conversion and though Lagardere replied with a well-struck penalty for Castres, Sexton was able to cancel that score out with his fourth penalty success after replacement prop Yannick Forestier had been sin-binned.

After a near miss when Jamie Heaslip almost embarrassed Lagardere on his own try-line, Leinster took their chances in the final 13 minutes, adding two more tries.

O’Driscoll, scoring his fourth try in this season’s tournament, touched down from close range before a hamstring injury ended his afternoon.

Then Keogh darted over with three minutes remaining, after linking with Wright and fellow replacement David Holwell, who converted both tries.


TIME LINE: 2 minutes – Castres penalty: missed by Anthony Lagardere – 0-0; 14 mins – Leinster penalty: Jonathan Sexton – 3-0; 19 mins – Leinster penalty: Jonathan Sexton – 6-0; 29 mins – Leinster penalty: Jonathan Sexton – 9-0; Half-time – Leinster 9 Castres Olympique 0; 47 mins – Leinster try: Bernard Jackman – 14-0; conversion: Jonathan Sexton – 16-0; 49 mins – Castres penalty: Anthony Lagardere – 16-3; 51 mins – Leinster penalty: missed by Jonathan Sexton – 16-3; 55 mins – Leinster penalty: Jonathan Sexton – 19-3; 65 mins – Castres yellow card: Yannick Forestier; 67 mins – Leinster try: Brian O’Driscoll – 24-3; conversion: David Holwell – 26-3; 77 mins – Leinster try: Simon Keogh – 31-3; conversion: David Holwell – 33-3; Full-time – Leinster 33 Castres Olympique 3

LEINSTER: Girvan Dempsey; Shane Horgan, Brian O’Driscoll, Luke Fitzgerald, Rob Kearney; Jonathan Sexton, Chris Whitaker (capt); Stan Wright, Bernard Jackman, CJ Van Der Linde, Devin Toner, Malcolm O’Kelly, Rocky Elsom, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements used: Brian Blaney for Jackman (blood sub, 2-4 mins), Blaney for Jackman (blood sub, 8-13), David Holwell for Sexton (62), Chris Keane for Whitaker, Trevor Hogan for Toner (both 68), Cian Healy for Van Der Linde, Simon Keogh for Dempsey, Stephen Keogh for O’Brien (all 70), Blaney for O’Driscoll (72).

CASTRES OLYMPIQUE: Cameron McIntyre; Charles Sika, Steve Kefu, Lionel Mazars, Rafael Carballo; Anthony Lagardere, Kevin Senio; Gideon Lensing, Mathieu Bonello, Luc Ducalcon, Ludovic Michaux, Colin Gaston (capt), Lei Tomiki, Darron Nell, Florian Faure.

Replacements used: Thomas Bouquie for Carballo (16 mins), Steve Malonga for Nell (28), Akvsenti Giorgadze for Bonello (56), Fabio Staibano for Ducalcon (58), Yannick Forestier for Lensing (61), Joe Tekori for Michaux (70). Not used: Sebastien Tillous-Borde.

Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)