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Preview: Leinster v Castres

18th October 2013 11:25

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Jimmy Gopperth of Leinster Heineken Cup

Starting for Leinster: Jimmy Gopperth

Leinster will look to build upon a good away victory over the Ospreys as they host Castres in Heineken Cup Pool 1 on Saturday.

The Irish side welcome the Top 14 champions to The Greenyards knowing that a win would see them take command of the group after the opening two fixtures.

Leinster have enjoyed a solid start to their Pro12 campaign, despite perhaps lacking the all-conquering force of several years ago. Away defeats to Munster and Glasgow Warriors mark the only blots on the champions' copybook, and they currently sit fifth in the table.

Pool 1 has been christened the "pool of death" with good reason. With victory over the French outfit on Saturday, Leinster could build an important lead at the top of the group a third of the way through the pool fixtures.

Castres overcame Saints by a narrow six-point margin at Stade Pierre-Antoine on Saturday, sitting level on points with their hosts going into the second round of games.

Their league form at home has been excellent, winning all of their games, including impressive victories over Heineken Cup champions Toulon, Stade Francais and Racing Metro.

However, they have struggled on the road thus far, most recently succumbing to a heavy 34-0 defeat at Brive, as well as going down to Bordeaux-Begles and newly-promoted Oyonnax.

Likewise, a Dublin triumph for the visitors would see them take up a solid position in what is sure to be a very tight group.

The two sides met at the pool stages in 2008 - each winning at home but Leinster ran-out emphatic 33-3 winners in Dublin.

Castres have won just two of their last 21 away games in the Heineken Cup and in Ireland, they have lost all seven of their games.

In team news, Leinster have opted not to include Springbok full-back Zane Kirchner, who arrived in Dublin this week.

The battle for the fly-half jersey between Ian Madigan and new signing Jimmy Gopperth intensifies following the latter's excellent performance at the Liberty Stadium and the Kiwi starts again in an unchanged backline.

Ireland duo Fergus McFadden and Kevin McLaughlin will both make their landmark 100th appearances for the province in Saturday's game.

There is one change to the starting line up from the side that defeated the Ospreys last weekend with Martin Moore set to make his first Heineken Cup start in the front row after appearing as a replacement in Swansea last weekend in place of the injured Mike Ross (hamstring) who is close to regaining full fitness.

Michael Bent has recovered from injury to take his place on the replacements bench alongside four other Ireland internationals.

Castres have made two changes to the side that beat Northampton last week as French international full-back Brice Dulin returns while formers Springbok Pedrie Wannenburg comes into the back row.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Brendan Macken, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip (capt), 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Martin Moore, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Quinn Roux, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Luke Fitzgerald,

Castres Olympique: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Romain Martial, 13 Romain Cabannes, 12 Remi Lamerat, 11 Maxwell Evans, 10 Remi Tales (capt), 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Pedrie Wannenburg, 6 Jannie Bornman, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Anton Peikrishvili, 2 Brice Mach, 1 Mihaita Lazar.
Replacements: 16 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 17 Karena Wihongi, 18 Saimone Taumoepeau, 19 Christophe Samson, 20 Ibrahim Diarra, 21 Julien Tomas, 22 Geoffrey Palis, 23 Daniel Kirkpatrick,

Date: Saturday, October 19
Venue: RDS, Dublin
Kick-off: 15:40 BST (14.40 GMT)
Referee: Greg Garner

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