Ian Madigan kicked seven penalties to help Leinster narrowly escape with a 21-16 win at Castres to make it two from two in Europe.
Ian Madigan kicked seven penalties as Leinster narrowly escaped with a 21-16 win away at Castres to make it two from two in Europe.
The French outfit took an early 7-0 lead through Saimone Taumoepeau’s try, but the Irish province dominated the rest of the first-half and three Madigan penalties took them 9-7 ahead at the break.
The hosts were the better team in the opening 20 minutes of the second period and three Geoffrey Palis efforts from the tee gave them a 16-9 advantage.
However, Leinster showed why they have won Europe’s top-tier competition three times as their centre added four more three-pointers to give them their second win in the tournament.
Last season’s Top 14 finalists have endured a torrid start to the campaign having lost six of their first nine league games. Castres also went down to Harlequins 25-9 in the opening round of the Champions Cup and they were therefore looking for a confidence booster.
The French side made an ideal start to this encounter with a try from Taumoepeau. Remi Tales began the move with an accurate cross-field kick which Madigan was forced to take into touch, and from the resultant line-out a powerful driving maul ended in the prop touching down.
Despite that opening to the game, Leinster controlled proceedings for the rest of the half and indiscipline from the hosts allowed the Irish province to get a foothold into the contest.
Madigan reduced the deficit via a penalty before the centre added a second from the tee after 25 minutes.
Castres were struggling to exit their own half efficiently and another three-pointer by the away side’s kicker took them in front for the first time in the match.
The Top 14 team were perhaps fortunate to be only two points in arrears at the break, but they lifted the intensity after the interval and Matt O’Connor’s men started to make mistakes.
Palis regained the French outfit’s advantage with a penalty and kicked two further efforts from the tee as they moved 16-9 ahead.
However, Leinster re-found their composure and once again hit back through the boot of Madigan, who was on target twice more. And in the final three minutes of the match two Castres infringements allowed the visiting centre to kick successive three-pointers and give them the victory.
Pen: Palis 3
Pens: Madigan 7
Castres: 15 Geoffrey Palis, 14 Max Evans, 13 Christopher Tuatara-Morrison, 12 Romain Cabannes, 11 Remi Grosso, 10 Remi Tales (c), 9 Cedric Garcia, 8 Piula Faaselele, 7 Yannick Caballero, 6 Mathieu Babillot, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Brice Mach, 1 Saimone Taumoepeau.
Replacements: 16 Mathieu Bonello, 17 Mihaita Lazar, 18 Yohan Montes, 19 Christophe Samson, 20 Ibrahim Diarra, 21 Romain Martial, 22 Julien Dumora, 23 Antoine Dupont.
Leinster: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Darragh Fanning, 13 Gordon D’Arcy, 12 Ian Madigan, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip (c), 7 Dominic Ryan, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Mike McCarthy, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Mick McGrath.
Referee: Greg Garner (England)
Assistant referees: Andrew Small (England), Paul Dix (England)
Television match official: Trevor Fisher (England)
Timekeeper: Bernard Dal Maso (France)
Assessor: Jim Fleming (Scotland)