Paris - Seven penalties from Ian Madigan gave three-time European champions
Leinster a 21-16 victory at French side Castres on Sunday in their
European Rugby Champions Cup pool game.
Castres, who have endured a
miserable time in their domestic Top 14 campaign so far this season,
had looked like they might earn an invaluable morale boosting victory as
they led going into the final 10 minutes thanks largely to the kicking
of fullback Geoffrey Palis.
However, Madigan held his nerve when
needed and gave the Irish province their second win in as many European
games in a hard fought and gritty encounter.
"We didn't help ourselves and didn't exploit the game when we had the ball," said Leinster skipper Jamie Heaslip.
was a lot of grit from us and there is a very happy but tired changing
room. Two wins from two - can't be unhappy with that," added the
30-year-old Ireland and British and Irish Lions No8.
stay top of Pool 2 ahead of Leinster after a gritty 23-16 over Wasps in
the latest chapter of an all-English derby which has been fought out
since the 19th century.
Elsewhere Castres' Top 14 rivals Clermont
steamrollered English outfit Sale 35-3 and took a bonus point to boot
with a four try display.
Two from Fijian try machine Napolioni
Nalaga -- taking his total to 25 in the competition -- one from South
African-born former English international fullback Nick Abendanon and a
stunning fourth by veteran centre Aurelien Rougerie.
Sale did not enjoy a repeat of their victory in Clermont the last time
they paid a visit six years ago and which was the last time Clermont
lost at home in European competition.
The only sour note was an
injury to Welsh centre Jonathan Davies, who had to go off after setting
up Abendanon for the first try.
"It is very pleasing both the
victory and the way we stuck to our guns," said Abendanon, who joined
from Bath in the close season after a nine year spell there.
"Getting the bonus point is even better and confirmation we are going really well at the moment.
"However, next up we have the double header with Munster and we know that will be a real test," added the 28-year-old.
drew first blood, just as they had done in the match back in January
which Leinster also won, with a converted try credited to New Zealander
prop Salmone Taumoepeau after Yannick Caballero won a lineout seven
metres out and the Leinster defence was powerless to stop them from
going over the tryline.
The score had been set up by a delightful
cross kick by Remi Tales, who delivered a blow to the club's morale
earlier in the week when he confirmed he would be joining Racing-Metro
next season, which had forced Madigan to concede the lineout.
for whom veteran centre Gordon D'Arcy was making his 100th appearance
in the competition, struck back with two long range penalties from
Only hard hitting Castres tackling prevented the visitors
from taking the game by the scruff of the neck but eventually they
handed another chance to Madigan and he converted the penalty to give
the Irish side the lead for the first time at 9-7 just before half-time.
the Irish province failed to pick up on the momentum they had at the
break and a series of schoolboy errors gifted Palis three penalties in
the first 15 minutes of the second-half to give them a 16-9 lead.
Madigan - who missed a relatively easy chance earlier in the half - reduced
the deficit with just over 15 minutes remaining sparking Leinster into
life again as they upped the pressure and provoked the hosts into
Madigan, who will contest the back-up
fly-half spot to Johnny Sexton for Ireland in the upcoming November
tests, made no mistake as he landed three more penalties to finally edge
them ahead for the final time.
In Sunday's late game, Racing Metro defeated Treviso 26-10 to stay top of Pool 5 with two wins in two games.
European Rugby Champions Cup results on Sunday:
Clermont (FRA) 35 Sale (ENG) 3
Castres (FRA) 16 Leinster (IRL) 21
Wasps (ENG) 16 Harlequins (ENG) 23
Treviso (ITA) 10 Racing-Metro (FRA) 26
Played on Saturday
Scarlets (WAL) 15 Leicester (ENG) 3
Ulster (IRL) 13 Toulon (FRA) 23
Bath (ENG) 19 Toulouse (FRA) 21
Montpellier (FRA) 13 Glasgow (SCO) 15
Northampton (ENG) 34 Ospreys (WAL) 6
Played on Friday
Munster (IRL) 14 Saracens (ENG) 3