A powerful performance from the Leinster pack paved the way for an impressive 33-15 win over Castres in the Champions Cup at the RDS Arena.
The hosts started the better of the two sides and two early tries from hooker Sean Cronin gave his side a 12-point lead.
Jack McGrath scored a third to round off an emphatic first-half display. A penalty try sent the visitors into the interval with a glimmer hope.
However, Leinster were far the better side and they came on strongly in the second half. Further scores from Isa Nacewa and a penalty try secured the bonus-point victory.
One positive for Castres was the performance of 19-year-old scrum-half Antoine Dupont who showed his potential with flashes of attacking vision and flair. Another youngster for the French side, Anthony Jelonch, scored a late consolation try as the match finished 33-15.
Leinster were dominant in the early exchanges scored the first try of the match after nine minutes. A lineout drive was touched down by Cronin out wide for an early 5-0 lead.
Cronin secured his brace after 26 minutes, breaking free from a maul 10 metres out he stepped through the Castres defence before showing good strength to plant the ball down. Nacewa’'s conversion was successful to put the hosts into a commanding 12-point lead.
A high tackle gave Castres the chance to claw back three points on the half-hour mark. They took their chance with Benjamin Urdapilleta successfully kicking for three points.
On his 100th appearance for the province, Jack McGrath scored Leinster’s third try of the match – once more, the score coming from the hosts’ driving maul. Nacewa added the extras to make the score 19-3.
Just before the half-time interval the visitors were awarded a penalty-try by referee Matthew Carley. Luke McGrath was also sent to the sin-bin in the aftermath.
Urdapilleta converted to take the half-time score 19-10, before Nacewa added a try to his personal tally with a try after 48 minutes. Smartly picking the ball from the base of a ruck before running in to score from 30 metres out to secure a bonus point. He converted his own try to take his side’s lead to 16 points.
Carley awarded the hosts a penalty-try after 64 minutes for repeated infringements from the Castres defence. Nacewa converted once more to make the score 33-10.
Replacement Jelonch responded for the French side with a try in the 70th minute, the 20-year-old burrowing in from close-range, but the contest was already long over.
Tries: Cronin 2, McGrath, Nacewa, Penalty Try
Cons: Nacewa 4
Yellow Card: L McGrath
Tries: Penalty Try, Jelonch
Yellow Card: Lassalle
Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Zane Kirchner, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Isa Nacewa (c), 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Ian Nagle, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Daniel Leavy, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Cathal Marsh, 23 Noel Reid
Castres: 15 Geoffrey Palis, 14 Remi Grosso, 13 Thomas Combezou, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 David Smith, 10 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Alex Tulou, 7 Steve Mafi, 6 Mathieu Babillot, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega (c), 4 Victor Moreaux, 3 Daniel Kotze, 2 Jody Jenneker, 1 Antoine Tichit
Replacements: 16 Brice Mach, 17 Mihaita Lazar, 18 Damien Tussac, 19 Thibault Lassale, 20 Anthony Jelonch, 21 Rory Kockott, 22 Maxime Javaux, 23 Florian Vialelle
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant Referees: Tim Wigglesworth (England), Steve Lee (England)
TMO: David Sainsbury (England)