Leinster v Castres

Leo Cullen's side begin their Champions Cup campaign hoping to get off to a perfect start at the RDS

Patrick Madden Sat, Oct 15
LIVE: Leinster v Castres

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  • 14:25

    Good afternoon!

    With domestic quarrels put to one side for the time being the four provinces turn their attention to continental affairs this weekend.

    There are a quartet of Irish-French fixtures today and tomorrow on the opening weekend of the Champions Cup.

    Later this evening Pro 12 champions Connacht take on European aristocrats Toulouse at the Sportsground, before Sunday sees Ulster take on Bordeaux and Munster's trip to Paris to play Racing 92.

    But first to make their European bow are Leinster, as they welcome Castres Olympique to the RDS.

    We'll be bringing you all the action across the weekend, so time to get settled for a feast of the finest club rugby the continent has to offer.

    Come on!!!


  • 14:27


    Leinster:  R Kearney; Z Kirchner, G Ringrose, R Henshaw, I Nacewa (capt); J Carbery, L McGrath; J McGrath, S Cronin, T Furlong; D Toner, I Nagle; R Ruddock, J van der Flier, J Heaslip. Replacements: J Tracy, C Healy, M Ross, R Molony, D Leavy, J Gibson-Park, C Marsh, N Reid.

    Castres:  G Palis; R Grosso, T Combezou, R Ebersohn, D Smith; B Urdapilleta, A Dupont; A Tichit, J Jenneker, D Kotze; V Moreaux, R Cap Ortega (capt); M Babillot, S Mafi, A Tulou. Replacements: B Mach, M Lazar, D Tussac, T Lassale, A Jelonch, R Kockott, M Javaux, F Vialelle.

    Referee:  Matthew Carley (England).

  • 14:35

    So Leinster line up for their first Champions Cup fixture without Johnny Sexton marshalling things at 10, a tight hamstring ruling him out of the opening Pool 4 clash. This gives the highly promising Joey Carbery the chance to make a name for himself at outhalf, and he has plenty of power and experience either side of him.

    You can read Gavin Cummiskey's preview of today's clash HERE.

  • 14:48

    This is the first of four clashes between the provinces and French opposition this weekend - with all four Top 14 sides having considerably deeper pockets than their Irish counterparts.

    You can read Gerry Thornley's look at the Champions Cup's Gallic contingent HERE.  

  • 14:53

    And if that isn't enough to keep you going, Gavin Cummiskey has spoken to Bordeaux Begles outhalf Ian Madigan about life in France, as he prepares to take on Ulster and a rival for the Irish 10 jersey, Paddy Jackson.

    You can read that HERE.

  • 14:55
    In Pool 2 Wasps have just thumped poor old Zebre 82-14. Unless something remarkable happens between Connacht and Toulouse later you imagine they'll be top of that group at close of play.
  • 14:55
  • 15:07

    Last year was Irish rugby's annus horribilis in the Champions Cup, with all three provinces failing to make it out of the group stages.  

    Leo Cullen's Leinster side have made a good start to the season though, and with Robbie Henshaw now fit to start and a number of other big guns returning a very formidable starting XV is beginning to take shape. They will fancy their chances against Castres today, the French side are looking to make it 10th time lucky in Ireland.

  • 15:15

    As ever against Top 14 opposition, Leinster will be in for a serious physical battle today.  

    The teams are out at the RDS.

  • 15:15

    Castres outhalf Urdapilleta has the ball in hand.


  • 15:17
    1 min: Leinster looking for contact early on before Luke McGrath kicks down the throat of Palis. Castres kick it back and the ball runs dead - first scrum for Leinster on halfway.
  • 15:18
    3 min: Leinster's scrum was good against Munster last weekend and it's solid first up here, the ball being moved left through the hands with Carbery looping and moving it wide.
  • 15:20

    4 min: Carbery collects deep and sends one up for Rob Kearney to chase, and he rises highest to retain the ball. There's a high tackle on Sean Cronin and Leinster have an early chance to put points on the board.

    Skipper Isa Nacewa is on place kicking duties today in the absence of Sexton, put he pulls the penalty wide.

  • 15:22
    6 min: Lovely stuff from Leinster. Excellent flat ball from Carbery to Ringrose and he releases to Henshaw out of the tackle. Henshaw hares up the line and feeds Nacewa on the flank, but he is pinged for a foot in touch.
  • 15:23
    7 min: Good platform for Leinster after they win lineout ball on the Castres 22. They rumble forward and have a penalty advantage. Carbery looks crossfield but play will come back for the penalty, Babillot pinged for coming in at the side. Leinster go for the corner!
  • 15:25

    TRY LEINSTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Short lineout ball to Devin Toner and Leinster set the maul, Cronin picking it up at the back and sneaking over the line. Bright start.

    Nacewa with a touchline conversion, pulls it again.


  • 15:27
    11 min: Castres have their first sustained spell of possession but it's very narrow, their huge backrowers hammering away. Eventually it is kicked with the Leinster line well organised.
  • 15:29
    13 min: Castres next attack has a bit more bite to it, with some deeper runners stretching Leinster for the first time. The ball slows down though and as they look short Carbery snipes in and intercepts but can't quite breakaway.
  • 15:32
    15 min: Another solid Leinster scrum and Ringrose sells his man with an excellent dummy and breaks clear. The hosts are camped on the Castres five and another excellent ball from Carbery nearly puts Henshaw through on the left. Castres manage to bog things down and Jack McGrath drops a short ball under the sticks.
  • 15:35
    18 min: Leinster are solid and it takes Castres two attempts to win their scrum ball. Eventually the home pack is penalised and Castres clear.
  • 15:35
  • 15:36
  • 15:36
    Bit of a breather here as a Castres player gets some treatment.
  • 15:37
    Hooker Jody Jenneker has blood pouring from his head so is off to get bandaged up.
  • 15:38
    20 min: Leinster put the squeeze on at scrum time but Castres number eight picks it out and feeds scrumhalf Dupont who stabs an excellent grubber in behind.
  • 15:40
  • 15:40
    22 min: A forward pass brings a Castres move to an end on the Leinster 22.
  • 15:41
    23 min: Another solid Leinster scrum and it's moved to Kearney who clears to Palis. His return kick is spilled and Castres have a scrum out on the right.
  • 15:42
    24 min: Good scrummaging from Furlong wins Leinster a penalty which is cleared to touch.
  • 15:45
    26 min: Leinster pressure and Nacewa shows slick hands to drop the ball onto his laces and thread a grubber through, earning his side a lineout deep in the Castres 22.
  • 15:46

    TRY LEINSTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Another score for Cronin! The Leinster maul splits and the hooker shows brilliant dynamism to twist and force his way over the line from 10 metres out.

    Nacewa converts this time.


  • 15:49

    28 min: Castres nine Dupont is a real prospect and he shows a stunning step to leave Toner on his backside before sniping his way upfield and deep into Leinster territory. Castres are on the front foot until a knock on from Ebersohn ends the move.

    However there was a high tackle from Kearney, so Urdapilleta can get Castres on the board with a simple penalty. Easy kick.


  • 15:51
    31 min: Brilliant from Carbery, picking up the scraps and wriggling his way deep into the Castres half. Leinster have a penalty which the young number 10 sticks into the corner.
  • 15:52
    32 min: Another Leinster lineout maul and they edge their way to the line before a Castres player is pinged for coming in at the side. Leinster go to the corner again.
  • 15:54

    TRY LEINSTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It's a pretty simple formula for Leinster at the moment and it's working. The first maul is held up and Luke McGrath slips away and rolls towards the line. Reinforcements come steaming in and Jack McGrath is over to score.

    Nacewa converts.


  • 15:58

    36 min: Castres penalty after Heaslip gets caught at the bottom of a ruck. They go for the corner but because the kicking tee is on the pitch they're being made to go for goal. That's a new one.

    And Urdapilleta pushes the kick he didn't want to take wide. Bit harsh that.


  • 15:59
    39 min: Good work from Mafi on the floor and Castres have a penalty in a similar position. This time there's no kicking tee and the ball is pinned into the corner.
  • 16:01

    TRY CASTRES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Leinster get a taste of their own medicine as Castres rumble towards the line. The maul is pulled down and Castres are awarded a penalty try! And to add insult to injury Luke McGrath is sin-binned for coming in at the side.

    Easy conversion for Urdapilleta. Big momentum swing at the end of the half.


  • 16:01
  • 16:16

    The teams are back out at a sun-kissed RDS.

    We're back underway!

  • 16:18
    42 min: Slick, quick Leinster build-up sees them get into the Casres 22 but with Nacewa slightly ponderous at scrumhalf (with McGrath in the bin) an excellent steal sees Castres awarded a penalty which they clear to touch.
  • 16:21
    44 min: Castres have picked up where they left off at the end of the first half and are looking dangerous on theedge of the Leinster 22 but excellent work from Van Der Flier sees Leinster awarded the penalty.
  • 16:24
    46 min: Leinster digging in well while they're down to 14 men, Toner cherry-picking the ball out of the air from Cronin's lineout before Carbery clears miles upfield.
  • 16:26

    TRY LEINSTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    A brilliant score from Leinster's skipper. Acting as an auxiliary number nine he picks on the edge of the 22, sees a gap, dummies and turns on the gas to force his way over the line. Great vision and well executed.

    Nacewa converts his bonus-point score.


  • 16:27
    50 min: Parity as McGrath comes out of the bin.
  • 16:30
    53 min: Leinster probing, keeping it tight on the right before swinging it left. Henshaw tries to force his way inside and when it's moved back wide again a knock on sees Castres survive. Cullen makes a number of changes, with Cian Healy on for Jack McGrath.
  • 16:32
    54 min: McGrath snipes down the blindside and opts to give Carbery a short hospital pass rather than dummy and go himself. Chance missed. But there's a quick reprieve for Leinster as Healy wins a penalty from the resulting Castres scrum. Carbery sticks it in the corner.
  • 16:34
    55 min: There's a Leinster penalty coming after they win their lineout ball. Free play for the hosts and they hammer away at the Castres line but the French hold out. Carbery takes a quick tap rather than going for the corner.
  • 16:35
    56 min: The ball goes loose but Leinster retain it on the right. And then it goes forward again, giving Castres possession. Eventually Urdapilleta tries to clear Castres lines with a left footed kick but gifts possession straight back to the hosts.
  • 16:37
    58 min: Van Der Flier breaks on the right but gets hauled down. A clearing Castres kick is charged down and the visitors have a 22 and a chance to breathe. Leinster should have had another score in that manic passage.
  • 16:39

    59 min: Carbery turns his man inside out and gets Leinster up to the 22. Leinster are nearly over again on the right through Van Der Flier but the ball goes loose and Castres have a scrum.


  • 16:40
    60 min: Great power from number eight Tulou to get Castres out of severe danger before the ball is kicked as far as Kirchner on the Leinster wing.
  • 16:40
  • 16:41
    61 min: Carbery has been a livewire today and a good dummy and step sees him power into the Castres 22 before he draws a high tackle. He sticks the resulting penalty into the corner again.
  • 16:42
    61 min: Another lineout maul and another Leinster penalty. Castres replacement Thibault Lassale is sent to the bin.
  • 16:44
    62 min: Patient scrummaging from Leinster, the set-piece is reset. they go a second time and edge towards the line before they are awarded another penalty.
  • 16:47

    TRY LEINSTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Castres eventually run out of lives at the scrum and Leinster are awarded the penalty try.

    Easy conversion for Nacewa.


  • 16:52

    TRY CASTRES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Good response from the visitors who get straight up the other end and have their second try through replacement Anthony Jelonch.

    No conversion.


  • 16:54
    71 min: Leinster with another short lineout and drive and they're over the line, but there's no score after James Treacy spills forward.
  • 16:57
    73 min: Leinster really put the squeeze on Castres on the five metre line but number eight Tulou muscles his way up the left and they can kick clear.
  • 17:00
    75 min: A good steal from Jamie Heaslip and Leinster threaten to break, but it's a very sloppy passage of play which ends with Cathal Marsh sticking a kick out on the full.
  • 17:02
    77 min: One of the moves of the game from Leinster with Carbery stepping and breaking yet again and speeding upfield. Gibson-Park is in support and so is Kirchner who gets hauled down short of the line. He's been very impressive today.  
  • 17:05
    79 min: This is very scrappy and very loose now. Excellent deep cover from Ringrose prevents a late consolation score for Castres.
  • 17:06
  • 17:09

    Thanks for joining me this afternoon. I'm hopping from one blog to another with the mighty Connacht against Toulouse kicking off at 5.35pm.

    Gavin Cummiskey's report from the RDS will be along shortly.