Planet Rugby

Leinster leave it too late

06th December 2008 15:24


Leinster v Castres HEC

The bigger they are, the harder they fall: Simon Keogh brings down Charles Sika

Leinster managed to put one laboured foot into the Heineken Cup knockout stages as they overcame a dogged Castres 33-3 at the RDS on Saturday.

It was far from a performance of European champions in waiting against the Top 14 strugglers, but the Irish giants ultimately got the job done as they dominated both possession and territory stakes.

Castres entered the game having only picked up one win from their last eleven away matches so the omens were largely with Leinster to add further weight to their imposing tournament start. But despite victory, that was not the case as Michael Cheika's men struggled to find the same ferocity that did for Wasps in Round Two.

There were some bright spots on display though as young talent such as Luke Fitzgerald, Sean O'Brien and Devin Toner continued their growth under the stewardship of knowledgeable duo Brian O'Driscoll and Rocky Elsom.

However, it was the French side that made the early running - putting their domestic woes to one side - as monster winger Charles Sika threw down a sizeable marker to any that stood in his way. The big runner brushed off two attempted tacklers down the right side as Leinster took time to settle.

That was until the Irish's own answer to Sika, Shane Horgan, announced himself on the game with a slalom run that handed the hosts some much-needed territory on ten minutes. All of which led to a succession of penalties close to the Castres line that centre O'Driscoll first ordered to the touchline before settling with three points from the boot of Jonathan Sexton.

That period of decent territory looked to have proved the catalyst for the men in blue as they launched a sustained period of pressure on the French line - Sexton adding another penalty to double the lead on nineteen minutes.

Leinster's ability to move the ball through patient phases without error was starting to leave several opponents gasping for air heading into the second quarter. And despite their lack of tries, Bernard Jackman's faultless line-out and the ever-increasing Castres tackle count left a scent that five-pointers were not too far in coming.

Another three points were subsequently added by Sexton as some consolation to take Leinster over a score ahead on the half-hour as Castres lost their hard-running South African Darron Nel with a knee problem.

The elusive try continued to edge ever closer on 33 minutes as Wallaby flank Rocky Elsom lost the ball over the whitewash with men waiting for the simple run in as the tempo increased. Soon after, it was his flank partner Sean O'Brien who continued his highly impressive Heineken Cup debut with a hand-off and break.

Yet even with a gift from the opposition it seemed Leinster's inability to get over the whitewash was becoming increasingly frustrating. This time Sexton's touch-finder was smartly kept in play by number eight Florian Faure before his in-goal sidestep preceded a forward pass on his own five-metre...nothing came though as half-time sounded.

The interval was obviously needed by Leinster as they ultimately took stock of what was lacking from their stuttering game. And how the break helped their second forty showing as Castres started to feel the heat of those tackles coupled with plenty of chasing.

The try came just seven minutes into the half as a poor pass was gathered by Horgan whose chip and gather of the bouncing ball was slightly lucky before handing it on to the bloodied and shimmying Jackman to ghost round full-back Cameron McIntrye under the posts.

All gaps then continued to widen as the referee started to lose patience with the French indiscipline as one-way traffic meant it was a case of chasing the bonus point.

The slightly less elusive second try was claimed on 67 minutes just seconds after Castres replacement prop Yannick Forestier found himself count the cost for his team's breakdown offences. This time a fired ball out to O'Driscoll saw him glide over with David Holwell adding the extras to take the scores to 26-3 with ten minutes of frantic action remaining.

The third crossing followed on 76 minutes as wing Simon Keogh raced over as Leinster chased the fourth score but it was all too little too late in Dublin.

The scorers:

For Leinster:

Tries: Jackman, O'Driscoll, Keogh

Con: Sexton, Holwell 2

Pen: Sexton 4

For Castres:

Pen: Lagardere

Leinster: 15 Girvan Dempsey, 14 Shane Horgan, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Luke Fitzgerald, 11 Rob Kearney, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Chris Whitaker, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 Malcolm O'Kelly, 4 Devin Toner, 3 CJ van der Linde, 2 Bernard Jackman, 1 Stan Wright.

Replacements: 16 Brian Blaney, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Trevor Hogan, 19 Stephen Keogh, 20 Chris Keane, 21 David Holwell, 22 Simon Keogh.

Castres: 15 Cameron McIntyre, 14 Charles Sika, 13 Steve Kefu, 12 Lionel Mazars, 11 Rafael Carballo, 10 Anthony Lagardere, 9 Kevin Senio, 8 Florian Faure, 7 Darron Nell, 6 Lei Tomiki, 5 Colin Gaston, 4 Ludovic Michaux, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Mathieu Bonello, 1 Gideon Lensing.

Replacements: 16 Akvsenti Giorgadze, 17 Yannick Forestier, 18 Fabio Staibano, 19 Joe Tekori, 20 Steve Malonga, 21 Sébastien Tillous-Borde, 22 Thomas Bouquié.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

Touch judges: Nigel Whitehouse (Wales), Hugh Watkins (Wales)

Television match official: Derek Bevan (Wales)

Forthcoming Fixtures
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 5
Northampton vs Gloucester19:45
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 5
Ospreys vs Benetton Treviso19:35
Munster vs Edinburgh19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle vs Toulouse14:45
Castres vs BayonneCastres vs Bayonne Preview
Grenoble vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Oyonnax vs Stade Francais18:30
Lyon vs Brive18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulon20:45
Friday , September 5
Montpellier vs Castres20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Saturday , August 30
Griquas vs Cheetahs15:00
Blue Bulls vs Western ProvinceBlue Bulls vs Western Province Preview
Eastern Province Kings vs Lions19:10
Friday , September 5
Western Province vs Eastern Province Kings19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
Saturday , August 30
Counties Manukau vs Hawkes BayCounties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay Preview
Southland vs Otago17:35
North Harbour vs WaikatoNorth Harbour vs Waikato Preview
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki vs Bay Of Plenty14:35
Auckland vs TasmanAuckland vs Tasman Preview
Wednesday, September 3
Manawatu vs Bay Of Plenty19:35
Thursday , September 4
Otago vs Canterbury19:35
Friday , September 5
Tasman vs Waikato18:05
Northland vs Hawkes Bay20:05
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
All times are local
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne 20 - 21 MontpellierClermont Auvergne vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 32 - 22 SharksPumas vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
Wellington 21 - 27 ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Report
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury 48 - 3 NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Report
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Stade Francais 23 - 20 Lyon
Toulon 60 - 19 La Rochelle
Montpellier 20 - 17 GrenobleMontpellier vs Grenoble Report
Bordeaux-Begles 30 - 21 Racing Metro Paris
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Blue Bulls 30 - 25 Eastern Province KingsBlue Bulls vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Western Province 27 - 14 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
Sharks 19 - 16 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
More Currie Cup results
Northland 35 - 5 WellingtonNorthland vs Wellington Report
Counties Manukau 29 - 25 OtagoCounties Manukau vs Otago Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 22
Toulouse 35 - 6 CastresToulouse vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 33 - 15 GriquasPumas vs Griquas Report
More Currie Cup results
Waikato 27 - 58 CanterburyWaikato vs Canterbury Report
Hawkes Bay 29 - 26 TaranakiHawkes Bay vs Taranaki Report
Thursday , August 21
North Harbour 21 - 25 Southland
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
5Leicester Tigers00