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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Leinster-33 Castres-3

[update October 16, 2013] On Wednesdays here at HarpinOnRugby we look back to a previous Leinster meeting with our next opponents. We have to go all the way back to 2008 to find the last visit of Castres - we had no Heineken Cup victories yet but as you can see that didn’t stop this particular blogger from being a hard-ass! I have a feeling the Top14 outfit will pose a little more of a challenge this Saturday, what with them being champions and all…

I’m really sorry for being a doom and gloom merchant, but I have to use that statistic as my headline to put this scoreline in perspective.

Leinster had one goal and one goal only in this match as far as I was concerned, and that was to secure the bonus point. Therefore, they failed, and the aforementioned stat points the way to explaining the failure.

And what’s more, they didn’t even seem to give the 16,500 fans some sign that they had the four-try bonus as a priority.

With the score at 16-3 and over half an hour left to get three tries, we bizarrely chose to kick a penalty and missed, and then seven minutes later, we chose the same option and succeeded.

Purists may argue that conventional wisdom dictates that it was important to establish a lead of more than two converted tries to secure the victory.

Well to those who say that, I have a bit of extra conventional wisdom for you…CASTRES WERE CRAP!!! Never in a million years would they have crossed our line unless we somehow got fifteen yellow cards at once!!!

Now this may surprise you, but I actually think Sexton’s performance was his best of the season so far. I’d give him a C+. But that’s STILL not good enough for a side that claims to have designs on winning the Heineken Cup.

It has to be said – in the 60 minutes Sexton was at fly half, we scored but one try. In 20 with Holwell, we got two. Who could argue that if that ratio went the other way we’d be celebrating maximum Pool 2 points right now with sights firmly set on a Number 1 seeding for the knockout stages.

The word is the French are actually going to field a full strength team for the return match on Friday, and also they have a pitch that is practically a mud bath, so I may look more favourably on a narrow victory on the night.

But let’s be clear – Munster have set the bar pretty high for this tournament as far as Irish teams are concerned, and if we hope to be heading for Edinburgh at the end of May for the final, we need to play a hell of a lot better than this for 80 minutes.

At least we had strong showings from young guns like Devin Toner and Sean O’Brien to give us hope. JLP
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