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Castres Olympique 18 (9) - 15 (12) Leinster Rugby
Stade Pierre-Antoine,
Att: 6,788
Friday, 12 December 2008, 21:00

Leinster took on Castres in South France on a bitterly cold evening.  While Brian O'Driscoll passed an 11th hour fitness test, CJ Van der Linde was ruled out and replaced in the side by Cian Healy. Leinster possessed a strong looking bench with the returning Felipe Contepomi and Isa Nacewa giving attacking options if needed.

It all started so well. Barely five minutes were on the clock when Brian O'Driscoll sent one of his infamous grubbers and with two Castres players conspiring to muck it up between them, Dempsey responded quickly to touch down with an outstretched palm. Sexton struck over what looked a difficult conversion and Leinster were off to a flier.

Castres seemed rattled with their restarts and lineouts stuttering, but Leinster let them back into it and allowed Anthony Lagardere to find a rhythm giving away three kickable penalties at the breakdown. Castres had taken the lead through Largardere's boot and Leinster were struggling to make any impression on the match as time and time again the referee adjudged infringements to have occurred at the ruck.

Leinster snatched the advantage back on 32 minutes, with Jonathan Sexton capitalising after Jennings and Keogh had combined well. The Leinster out half seemed to injure his shoulder in the process and that may have contributed to his miss of the conversion and this was his final act as he was substituted at half time, Felipe Contepomi taking the field in his stead.

The second half continued in a similar vein to the first with Leinster continually adjudged to infringe at the breakdown. Leinster were failing to play the ref and he in turn was punishing Leinster on every occasion. Leinster were getting kicks too and with Contepomi taking over duties the visiting supporters would have been forgiven for having complete confidence in the Argentine. However it was not his night with the boot and two very kickable efforts were spurned before he bisected the posts for three points.

By now Leinster had introduced Nacewa and Leinster's lead was out to six points but it was to be their last score as Castres pegged Leinster back through the boot of Lagardere and with seven minutes on the clock he struck his 6 penalty and gave Castres the lead for only the second time in the match.

With seven minutes and stoppage time left Leinster had time to snatch at least a draw but ill discipline, handling errors and panicked decision making were again to undermine Leinster's efforts and when Leinster coughed up a lineout deep in injury time Castres could clear deep into the Leinster half and the game was up.

It was a deeply disappointing day for Leinster especially as they had started so brightly. A series of errors in judgement and support play saw Leinster turn over possession time and again. Defeat means that from a commanding position at their top of their group Leinster have now a meagre three point advantage and will have a crunch match with Wasps at Twickenham to come before a match against the old foe Edinburgh at the RDS to try and ensure their passage through to the quarters of this seasons HEC.

Match Statistics
  Castres Olympique   Leinster Rugby
Tries     Dempsey
Sexton
Conversions     Sexton
Penalties Lagardere (6)   Contepomi
Sin Bin Kefu (51-61)    
 
Teams Thomas Bouquae
15 Girvan Dempsey
Charles SIKA
14 Shane Horgan
Steve Kefu
13 Brian O'Driscoll
Lionel Mazars
12 Luke Fitzgerald
Phil Christophers
11 Robert Kearney
Anthony Lagardere
10 Jonathan Sexton
Sebastian Tillous-Borde
9 Chris Whitaker (C)
 
Kees Lensing
1 Cian Healy
Akvsenti Giorgadze
2 Bernard Jackman
Daniel Saayman
3 Stan Wright
Joe Tekori
4 Devin Toner
Lionel Nallet (C)
5 Malcolm O'Kelly
Lei Tomiki
6 Rocky Elsom
Chris Masoe
7 Shane Jennings
Florian Faure
8 Jamie Heaslip
 
Replacements Mathieu Bonello (for Giorgadze)
16 Brian Blaney (for Jackman, 71)
Luc Ducalcon (for Saayman, 48)
17 Ronan McCormack
Rodrigo Capo Ortega
18 Trevor Hogan
Kirill Kulemin (for Tekori, 74)
19 Sean O'Brien
Kevin Senio (for Lagardere, 80)
20 Chris Keane
Thomas Sanchou
21 Felipe Contepomi (for Sexton, 40)
Matthieu Bourret
22 Isa Nacewa (for Keogh, 67)
 
Not Considered
due to Injury

  Gordon D'Arcy (arm)
Leo Cullen (collar bone)
Stephen Knoop (neck)
Shane Horgan (virus)
 
Officials Rereree: Dave Pearson (RFU)
Assistant Referees: Ashley Rowden (RFU), Stuart Terheege (RFU)
TMO: David Matthews

by Sarah Lennon, © 2011-08-23

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