Leinster delivered their biggest points scoring game of the season and their highest in Europe for nine years. In fact, in scoring seven tries they scored three more than they managed in the previous four rounds in their European Rugby Champions Cup pool. The seven tries were scored by seven different players, three of them subs. All in all, a magical night for the statisticians and record keepers.
That Matt O’Connor and his charges required a big effort was unquestionable. That a win was required was taken as a given, plus the bonus point as Leinster were not to know the outcome of the Harlequins v Wasps game. That Castres would only be a shadow of the team they were last season should not take away from this Leinster performance.
It was evident from the kick off that Leinster were in no mood for an easy night at the office. Winning a scrum against the head and shortly after, a huge lift in the lineout saw Devin Toner gather, drop to Reddan and on to Madigan who let David Kearney fly onto an inside pass that opened up the pitch. Kearney needed no second chance and sprinted to the right of the posts. This was the way the game unfolded and Leinster played at a high tempo, never allowing Castres to settle into a game rhythm of their own.
Shortly after, Richie Gray the fan’s villain of the night, gave away a soft penalty and Ian Madigan made it 10 nil. Castres were fouling consistently and the referee yellow carded Diarra and from the resulting penalty, one of Lansdowne’s representatives, Martin Moore, crashed over for his first ever European try.
In the next try scoring move for Leinster, Jordi Murphy offloaded to Eoin Reddan, allowing the scrum half to barge his way through two tackles for the try line. Sean Cronin was not to be outdone and he too got his name on the score sheet, scoring a great try on the stroke of half time, to a huge cheer from the 18,000 plus in attendance. Madigan converted and the scoreboard showed Leinster with an unassailable lead of 31-3.
Interestingly, on 50 minutes, Tadgh Furlong replaced Martin Moore and he too scored a maiden European try. Shortly after, Darragh Fanning came off the bench and before he could catch his breath bagged his third try in this season’s tournament.
Leinster then took their eye off the ball and allowed Castres a consolation try. Another sub, Luke McGrath, also scored his maiden European try and made it seven tries on the night for Leinster.
It was a truly magical night in the RDS and for the Leinster team, the opportunity to open up and play an expansive game of rugby. For Big Red Cloud, what more could we ask for, 7 tries leading to Leinster’s highest European win in nine years, first Euro tries for three of the team and incredible exposure for our brand to a massive audience.
Winning the Bank of Ireland Sponsor for a Day competition was indeed a dream come true. Most of the 18,500 in attendance in the RDS will long remember the Leinster v Castres game.