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Dublin: 8 °C Friday 26 April, 2019


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LEINSTER ARE CURRENTLY tied on points at the top of their Champions Cup pool with Harlequins but a bonus point win over Castres would put them right in the hunt for a home quarter-final.

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Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Leinster vs Castres in the Champions Cup. Before we get properly up and running, here are the teams.

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Luke Fitzgerald, 12 Ian Madigan, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (c), 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Jack Conan, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Martin Moore, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Michael Bent.
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Jamie Hagan, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Dominic Ryan, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Gordon D’Arcy, 23 Darragh Fanning.

Castres: 15 Julien Dumora, 14 Romain Martial, 13 Thomas Combezou, 12 Romain Cabannes (c), 11 Marcel Garvey, 10 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Jannie Bornman, 6 Ibrahim Diarra, 5 Christophe Samson, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 1 Saimone Taumoepeau.
Replacements: 16 Mathieu Bonello, 17 Paea Faanunu, 18 Benjamin Desroche, 19 Yohan Montes, 20 Piula Faasalele, 21 Remi Tales, 22 Remi Grosso, 23 Antoine Dupont.

Leinster were playing the prospect down during the week but this man has to be thinking bonus point win.

Matt O'Connor arrives Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

If you are looking to have a bet, Leinster are 23 point favourites and 1/33 to win.

Castres are 10/1 and the draw is 55/1.

There’s a good interview with Leinster captain Jamie Heaslip on Sky at the moment. He says his rugby hero was former Ireland wing Simon Geoghegan.

Did anyone catch any of Toulon vs Ulster? 60 points for the galacticos! It looks a bit like everyone else will have to play for second place in the inaugural Champions Cup.

The Champions Cup pools are decided on points difference in the event of a tie and Leinster are a good bit behind Quins at the moment. A big win today would really increase Leinster’s chance of getting a home quarter-final.


Ramiro Herrera starts at tighthead for Castres. He was particularly destructive when these sides met in France earlier in the tournament. Will be interesting to see how Michael Bent deals with him tonight.

The teams are coming out on the pitch now.

We are off at the RDS!

First scrum now. Let’s see how Marty Moore does in place of Mike Ross.

Huge scrum from Leinster as they win it against the head and now they have a penalty on their own ten. Massive start by Moore and Bent.

Gopperth brings play up to the 22.

TRY LEINSTER! Leinster 7-0 Castres

Jimmy Gopperth hits Ian Madigan who pops an inside ball to the onrushing Dave Kearney who flies through the gap to dot down beside the posts. Perfect start for Leinster.

This could be worse than what Toulon did to Ulster….

Good response by Castres as wing Romain Martial chips into the Leinster 22. The home side clear to their own ten metre line.

Leinster try to counter as Jack Conan attempts a switch with Jimmy Gopperth but the out-half knocks on. Castres scrum on the left wing just outside the Leinster 22.

Two scrums, two positive outcomes for Leinster. Castres flanker Ibrahim Diarra is penalised for going offside and Leinster have an attacking lineout on the 22.

After the strong start, it has been a little sloppy from the home side with a couple of handling errors.

Leinster have another lineout in the Castres 22.

Fitzgerald cuts an aggressive line from a Gopperth pass that takes Leinster into the 22.

Castres go offside under the posts but Leinster opt for the corner rather than take the points.

Madigan tries to cut a hero line from five metres out but spills the ball. That is two good chances in the Castres 22 that have been lost by Leinster due to handling errors.

Leinster have a 22 drop out after Daniel Kirkpatrick’s kick rolls dead.

A lovely quick 22 drop out sees Jimmy Gopperth roaring up the pitch but his inside pass to Dave Kearney is dropped. Another chance missed. 5 handling errors so far.

We resume with a Castres scrum just inside their half.

I don’t want to keep harping on this… but the handling has been atrocious from both sides, which is strange since it is a dry, crisp evening. Meanwhile, Leinster force a turnover penalty and kick to the corner once again.

Leinster maul towards the line before flinging it wide. Fitzgerald runs a decoy line as the out-half hits Kearney looping around but the wing drops the ball once again.

Now Eoin Reddan knocks on trying to collect a lineout in his own half. Scrum for Castres on the Leinster ten metre line on the left hand side of the pitch.

This stat really tells you how inefficient Leinster have been with the chances they’ve been handed.

Leinster 7-3 Castres

Castres win a penalty at the scrum this time and Rory Kockott reduces the gap to four.

Castres second row Richie Gray knocks on in midfield and then gets penalised for playing the ball on the ground. This time Heaslip signals to the posts and Madigan will have a chance to restore Leinster’s seven point lead.

Leinster 10-3 Castres

Leinster hit back immediately through the boot of Madigan.

Rob Kearney claims a high ball excellently on halfway before popping to Cronin who takes the ball into the Castres 22.

But after Leinster run through a few more phases Castres poach the ball and clear.

Leinster quickly get back into the Castres 22 after a nice run by Fergus McFadden but once again they lose the ball in contact.

Ibrahim Diarra has been sent to the bin for a deliberate offside in the 22 and Leinster have another penalty in a kickable position. Leinster should be thinking seven points here, not three.

And Gopperth puts the ball into the corner for Leinster to have another crack at the Castres line.

TRY LEINSTER! Leinster 12-3 Castres

Marty Moore drives over from the back of the maul as Leinster finally convert their dominance into points.

Leinster 17-3 Castres

Madigan converts. Worth remembering that every conversion matters too given Leinster’s points difference.

Cronin gets penalised for not supporting his own body weight in pursuit of a turnover and Castres kick into Leinster’s 22.

We are going to the TMO but it looks like Marcel Garvey has gotten a try back for Castres.

NO TRY! Double movement by Garvey. Looked harsh at first glance.

It definitely wasn’t a double movement. Very poor decision.

Leinster have a lineout ten metres from the Castres line now.

Leinster on the Castres line after a strong maul.

We are back to the TMO for a possible Eoin Reddan try.

Looks like Reddan was able to burrow over but after the earlier TMO decision, it is hard to be sure.

TRY! Leinster 22-3 Castres

After some strong carries by Murphy, McCarthy and Moore near the line, Reddan is able to get over.

Leinster 24-3 Castres

Diarra returns just as Madigan nails his tricky conversion.

Leinster are looking to run everything now. Fitzgerald explodes off his left foot and makes ten yards outside his 22.

TRY LEINSTER! Leinster 29-3 Castres

HT Leinster 31-3 Castres

Rob Kearney and Devin Toner combined well to bring the play just outside the 22 but then it was all Sean Cronin. The hooker looked like Usain Bolt as he scorched his way through the centre of the Castres defence to score under the posts. And that is half time.

Despite some dropped balls, Leinster have the bonus point in the bag. But if they want that home quarter-final, they need to repeat the trick in the second half to give themselves a healthy points difference lead over Quins before round six.

We are back under way here!

Leinster are straight into the Castres 22 hunting for try number five.

Castres win a penalty and are able to clear their lines.

Castres playing some good rugby now and are into the Leinster 22. Wing Martial made about 20 metres on the right touchline.

Castres knock on but the ref will go back for a high tackle by Jimmy Gopperth. The out-half might get a yellow here.

Just a penalty and Kirkpatrick puts the ball into the corner.

Castres get their maul going and Mike McCarthy gets penalised for collapsing. They go back to the corner.

Castres going through the phases but Leinster’s defence is driving them back.

After about 20 phases Martial knocks on and Leinster have a scrum on the wing in their own 22.

Dominic Ryan is about to come on for Leinster.

Michael Bent is penalised at the scrum and Castres have another 5m lineout.

What an effort by Rob Kearney! The fullback catches a cross-kick on his own line and almost makes it all the way to the opposite tryline, getting caught by Garvey 10m from the line. Kearney knocked on in the tackle and Castres have a scrum. That was sensational play from Kearney.

Jamie Hagan, Tadhg Furlong, Richardt Strauss and Dominic Ryan are on for Michael Bent, Marty Moore, Sean Cronin and Jamie Heaslip.

Dave Kearney comes hard on Jimmy Gopperth’s inside but fumbles the ball just outside the 22.

TRY! Leinster 38-3 Castres

Tadhg Furlong crosses under the posts after Stauss blows a hole in the centre of the Castres defence and feeds the tighthead.

There was some great play by Fergus McFadden in the build-up, with his half-break and offload finding Luke Fitzgerald in the Castres 22.

That try also treated us to the sight of a tighthead prop sprinting in from ten yards out. Furlong couldn’t suppress his grin after that five-pointer.

Luke McGrath is on for Eoin Reddan.

Luke McGrath gets caught in possession after taking too long at a ruck and Castres have a penalty after Ian Madigan obstructs Rory Kockott’s attempt to get the ball.

The TMO is checking a possible Castres try now.

It’s ruled out for a forward pass but Castres had a penalty advantage and they take it quickly.

Castres knock on and Ian Madigan launches it into the opposition half.

Gordon D’Arcy is on for Jimmy Gopperth.

And Kane Douglas is on for Mike McCarthy. Leinster have a lineout on their own 10m line.

McFadden gathers his own delicate chip before Fitzgerald pins Castres back in their own 22.

Jordan Murphy has been brilliant for Leinster tonight and he is being rightly singled out for praise from the commentators.

Leinster almost got their sixth try but Dominic Ryan spilled an Eoin Reddan pass ten metres from the line.

13 minutes left and Leinster will be disappointed that they have only scored seven points in the second half. Also, Darragh Fanning is on for Dave Kearney.

TRY! Leinster 45-3 Castres

Just as I say that Darragh Fanning explodes onto Luke McGrath’s inside ball to sprint under the posts from 30 metres out.

Leinster 43-8 Castres

Awful for Leinster as Madigan misses an easy conversion before Romain Martial scores at the other end after a pass from D’Arcy hits the ground. Big swing in terms of points difference.

Leinster went from possibly having a +47 points difference to a +40 in 30 seconds. Could prove important at the end.

Eight minutes to go here as Leinster attack the 22.

Leinster have a scrum under the Castres posts with six minutes to go.

Leinster have another scrum after Luke McGrath is held up over the line.

TRY! Leinster 50-8 Castres

Luke McGrath picks up from the base of the scrum and powers over from five yards. McGrath showed great pace to get over there.

One minute left but that is a good benchmark by Leinster. Their points difference is a much healthier +47 at the moment. Quins are on +28 before their home game with Wasps tonight.

FT Leinster 50-8 Castres

So that’s seven tries in all for Leinster as they ease to a 28-point win.

That’s all for our liveblog this evening. Check back in a few minutes for live reaction from the RDS.

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