Castres 22 Leinster 29 match report: Leinster overcome formidable home record to record Heineken Cup victory

Leinster retain control of Pool One

Leinster reasserted their control of Heineken Cup Pool One by ending Castres' proud 18-match home record at Stade Pierre-Antoine.

Castres' most recent home defeat was against Ulster last January and they fell to another Irish province here despite establishing a 14-0 lead and dominating the scrum.

The under-strength Castres team ended the first quarter in full control as full-back Brice Dulin touched down to add to Scotland and Lions lock Richie Gray's opening try.

Jimmy Gopperth scored two tries in response, the second coming in first-half injury time, as Leinster closed the gap to 17-12 at the interval.

It was a real war of attrition in the concluding 40 minutes and Matt O'Connor's men gained vital momentum on the hour mark, courtesy of three Gopperth penalties and a drop goal from Rob Kearney on his 50th Heineken Cup appearance.

Flanker Jordi Murphy then claimed his first European try to put the result beyond doubt, while Castres capitalised on Sean Cronin's sin-binning to score an injury-time consolation try through Remi Lamerat.

Having lost at home to Northampton in the previous round, Leinster needed to bounce back in order to keep hold of top spot and remain on course for the quarter-finals.

Castres were missing some notable names through injury - top-scoring scrum-half Rory Kockott and back-rowers Pedrie Wannenburg and Antonie Claassen chief among them - but their shadow side got off to a very strong start.

Flanker Ibrahim Diarra got his hands free to send centre Lamerat weaving through some lacklustre Leinster challenges. He was brought down in sight of the posts, before Seremaia Bai's long pass put the waiting Gray over in the left corner.

Television match official Derek Bevan confirmed the score which Cedric Garcia crisply converted.

The excellent Diarra then forced another turnover near halfway from which the French side sprung winger Remi Grosso into space on the left and with Rob Kearney drawn in, he passed inside for Dulin to finish off their second try.

Garcia's conversion left Leinster 14-0 adrift and with considerable ground to make up. Their forwards took up the baton, with Jordi Murphy held up short from a line-out maul.

From the resulting scrum, the Castres defence was caught off guard as Eoin Reddan passed for his half-back partner Gopperth to score by the posts, with the New Zealander also converting.

Goal-kicking scrum-half Garcia was on target in the 39th minute but the visitors - aided by a fine Fitzgerald run - got a timely boost when Gopperth shrugged off two tackles and stretched over under pressure from Gray to claim his second try.

Leinster won a central penalty for some needless stamping by Garcia when play resumed and the successful kick from Gopperth made it a two-point game.

Reddan soon sniped through on a break which led to a long-range drop goal from full-back Kearney, moving Leinster ahead for the first time, and Castres coughed up another penalty which Gopperth nudged home.

Leinster were suddenly 24-17 ahead when a 63rd-minute carry from replacement prop Cian Healy - a late inclusion on the bench after an incredibly quick recovery from ankle surgery - set up Gopperth's third penalty goal.

The Castres pack battered away in the Leinster 22 but the visitors, following a spell of desperate defending, countered for a brilliant third try.

Healy cut inside two tackles near the Castres 22 and passed for Murphy to dive over in the right corner in the 77th minute.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor