Rugby

Madigan boots Leinster to win

2014-10-26 17:45
Leinster's fly-half Jimmy Gopperth passes the ball in the match against Castres. (Remy Gabalda, AFP)

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.

"There 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.

Harlequins 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.

These ensured 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.

Castres 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.

Leinster, for whom veteran centre Gordon D'Arcy was making his 100th appearance in the competition, struck back with two long range penalties from Madigan.

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.

However, 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 conceding penalties.

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:

Pool 1

Clermont (FRA) 35 Sale (ENG) 3

Pool 2

Castres (FRA) 16 Leinster (IRL) 21

Wasps (ENG) 16 Harlequins (ENG) 23

Pool 5

Treviso (ITA) 10 Racing-Metro (FRA) 26

Played on Saturday

Pool 3

Scarlets (WAL) 15 Leicester (ENG) 3

Ulster (IRL) 13 Toulon (FRA) 23

Pool 4

Bath (ENG) 19 Toulouse (FRA) 21

Montpellier (FRA) 13 Glasgow (SCO) 15

Pool 5

Northampton (ENG) 34 Ospreys (WAL) 6

Played on Friday

Pool 1

Munster (IRL) 14 Saracens (ENG) 3

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