Leinster took a step closer to the European Champions Cup quarter-finals on Saturday with a 50-8, bonus-point win over Castres at the RDS.
The result provisionally moves the Irish province bak to the top of Pool 2, five point clear of Harlequins, who host Wasps later on Saturday.
The first half was total domination from Leinster, as they wrapped up the bonus point just before the break.
Their tries came courtesy of Dave Kearney, Marty Moore, Eoin Reddan, whilst Sean Cronin’s on the brink of half-time was the pick as he sprinted solo after breaking from defence.
Tadhg Furlong got himself onto the score sheet in the second half, and Darragh Fanning increased the lead with his first attack since coming off the bench.
Romain Martial did ensure Castres had something to celebrate, but 50 points were brought up thanks to a seventh try from Luke McGrath.
It took just three minutes for the rout to begin, and Kearney was the man who dived over the line to set the ball rolling. Ian Madigan’s neat pass was accompanied by some neat handling, and Kearney ran through, before Madigan converted in a half where he failed to miss a single opportunity.
The visitors’ kicker Rory Kockott sent his first penalty of the evening through, but that was swiftly followed by Madigan who restored the seven point gap.
And when Ibrahim Diarra was sent to the sin-bin, Leinster well and truly made the visitors pay as they took the game away from the French side.
Moore was Leinster’s second try scorer of the night as he forced his way over the line past a Castres backline that had no answer to Leinster’s attacking talent. Madigan’s conversion increased the lead to 14 points, though to their credit Castres did look to get themselves back into the line.
However their bursts forward were infrequent, and with a man short, they found themselves exposed at the back. Reddan’s try came five minutes before the break, and it came following another spell of pressure by his side. Fergus McFadden had already burst through a gap in the process, before a set of passes allowed Reddan to leap over.
Madigan’s conversion followed, and then right on the brink of the referee’s whistle, the bonus point came. The solo effort from Cronin started way back inside his own half, where he started his excursion forward, and nobody could even get near him as he sealed the extra point with a half to spare.
The second half was no different to the first, with Castres pinned back. 16 minutes into the second half, the fifth try came from replacement Furlong. Richard Strauss was involved in the build up, but more neat passing allowed Furlong the opportunity to nip through in a night where everything seemed to go right for the hosts.
Try number six came on 70 minutes, and Fanning got it. The substitute had taken to the pitch just seconds earlier, but wasted no time at all before scoring, getting the sixth try as Leinster sent out a message to group rivals Wasps and Harlequins, with just a game to go.
The struggling Castres did have something to celebrate moments later when they claimed their first five pointer of the evening, Martial the man with ball in hand following a hopeful kick through the defence. Kockott’s effort swung across the posts, in a night where the French international had few opportunities.
The final try of the night came courtesy of Luke McGrath. The Irish side were just metres from the line, and after threatening a seventh try, the TMO awarded it. Madigan’s conversion saw the hosts bring up 50 points on a night where Leinster moved to the top of Pool 2.
Tries: D. Kearney, Moore, Reddan, Cronin, Furlong, Fanning, McGrath
Cons: Madigan 6
Yellow card: Diarra
Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Luke Fitzgerald, 12 Ian Madigan, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (c), 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Jack Conan, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Martin Moore, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Michael Bent.
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Jamie Hagan, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Dominic Ryan, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Gordon D’Arcy, 23 Darragh Fanning.
Castres: 15 Julien Dumora, 14 Romain Martial, 13 Thomas Combezou, 12 Romain Cabannes (c), 11 Marcel Garvey, 10 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Jannie Bornman, 6 Ibrahim Diarra, 5 Christophe Samson, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 1 Saimone Taumoepeau.
Replacements: 16 Mathieu Bonello, 17 Paea Faanunu, 18 Benjamin Desroche, 19 Yohan Montes, 20 Piula Faasalele, 21 Remi Tales, 22 Remi Grosso, 23 Antoine Dupont.
Venue: RDS Arena
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Matteo Liperini (Italy); Stefano Penne (Italy)