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Leinster's centres impress, scrum dominance and more talking points

Leo Cullen will expect a more clinical edge in the opposition 22.

LEINSTER OPENED THEIR Champions Cup campaign with a bonus-point 33-15 win over Castres at the RDS.

Read our match report here.  

Carbery continues to show class

For a 20-year-old making his European debut, Joey Carbery didn’t look in the slightest bit perturbed. The Clontarf man’s class has been well flagged in recent weeks and he delivered more evidence that he is a player of immense potential this afternoon.

Joey Carbery tackled by Rory Kockott 15/10//2016 Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

There were the linebreaks that are so typical of his attacking game, and the rapid footwork that can flummox defenders, but perhaps as important was the manner in which he did the nuts and bolts of his duties.

Accurate kicks with enough hang time to allow chasers to pressure Castres’ fielders, fluid passing that gave his team-mates time on the ball, and three tackles completed without fuss.

Carbery continues to excite, looking completely calm all the time.

Set-piece domination

French packs are probably more famous for earning wins, but this contest was all about the Leinster forwards. Mike Ross definitely enjoyed this victory.

Mike Ross claps to the fans 15/10//2016 Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Tadhg Furlong and Jack McGrath had started the scrum onslaught well, eventually earning the penalty they wanted at the third time of asking, before Ross was sprung from the bench late in the first half to continue the theme. A penalty try must have been satisfying for scrum coach John Fogarty.

Leinster were 100% at the lineout and turned that possession source into a dominant maul, which directly yielded one try for Sean Cronin, launched his second, and started the passage that saw Jack McGrath barge over.

If Leinster are to go to Montpellier next weekend and pull off a famous away European win, much of the same will be required.

Centre pairing

A week after their first game together against Munster, Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw again looked like a balanced centre partnership.

Garry Ringrose tackles Geoffrey Palis Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Ringrose now has the physical quality to match his longstanding powers of decision-making and skill. It is thrilling to see that his outside break and creative streak remain intact even as his bulking continues.

Henshaw is already established as a Test centre, but even then his ability to get back up to speed so soon after a serious knee injury has been impressive.

At 23 and 21, Henshaw and Ringrose still have much development ahead of them, making their pairing all the more exciting for Irish rugby. It would be an utter shock not to see this duo playing together in green in the near future.

Solid start

Leinster’s first job is done, with five points in the bag. Memories of Wasps at the RDS last year can now be brushed to the back of the mind.

Devin Toner celebrates Leinster were pleased with five points. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Montpellier’s meeting with Northampton, which kicked off at 5.30pm, is now of most interest to Leinster. What will Jake White’s Top 14 outfit offer in this competition? Can Jim Mallinder’s men bounce back from a poor start to the Premiership season?

It’s always more enjoyable to have the points in the bank and see how the other teams in the pool fare, but more important for Leinster at this early stage is formulating a plan that can help them to win in Montpellier next weekend.

There is momentum on Cullen’s side now, with these wins against Munster and Castres adding to the growing confidence in the Leinster squad since Stuart Lancaster’s arrival. They feel a page has been firmly turned.

Conversion rate

Leinster have had noticeable dips in virtually every game they’ve played this season. That’s natural to a degree, with the opposition invariably producing periods of quality, but Cullen and co. will again have some concerns after today’s performance.

Isa Nacewa talks to his team after the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The stint of wastefulness in the Castres 22 after Isa Nacewa’s impressive second-half try and before the penalty try finally arrived at the scrum in the 65th minute will be the key work-on over the coming days.

A quick-tap penalty decision, rather than forcing the point through their scrum or maul, might be part of the review, while Leinster will also examine their composure close to the tryline with ball in hand.

There is a fine base here for Leinster from which to launch a genuine attack at a Champions Cup knock-out game, but the most demanding tests are ahead.

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Murray Kinsella

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