Munster avenged last weekend's defeat in France with an impressive 36-8 victory over Castres in a bruising encounter in Thomond Park on Saturday evening.
Munster avenged last weekend's defeat in France with an impressive 36-8 victory over Castres in a bruising encounter in Thomond Park on Saturday evening. Munster litterally drove home their forward dominance with four of their five tries coming from driving mauls at a packed Thomond Park as they extended their unbeaten run at the ground. It was a record eighth meeting between these two sides and Munster had a point to prove after losing in France last weekend. They did that and more in a niggly game in which Ronan O'Gara and Justin Fitzpatrick were sent to the sin-bin for fighting and Castres prop Alessio Galasso was sent off two minutes from the end of normal time. If Castres were good value for their 19-12 home win, Munster fully deserved to erase that bitter memory and emerge on top over the two games thanks to their bonus point in France and their try bonus at home. Victory took them to the top of the Pool and gave them a three point cushion over Castres and four over their next opponents, Neath-Swansea Ospreys. It was a special day for home outside half O'Gara as he not only celebrated his 50th Heineken Cup appearance, but also overtook Diego Dominguez as the tournament's highest points scorer with his three conversions and penalty. That hoisted him to 649 in 50 games - four ahead of Dominguez. O'Gara missed with his first kick of the day and Castres took full advantage of their good fortune to grab the lead two mintues later when Bejamin Lhande converted a great run by Ugo Mola into a stunning score. Munster's response was to keep the ball tight and make ground with their strong pack. They eventually got the reward they were looking for when skipper Anthony Foley crossed for the first of four tries from his forwards. O'Gara stroked over the conversion, but it wasn't long before the Frenchmen were back in front thanks to a penalty from Laurent Marticorena. The visitors' lost their Argentinian international prop Mauricio Reggiardo for 10 mintues for stamping soon after and the game turned in first-half injury time when Munster scored 10 points. Denis Leamy grabbed another roll over try six minutes into added time and O'Gara followed up his conversion with a penalty 50 minutes after the first-half had been started.It was that penalty that took O'Gara passed Dominguez's record mark. Ten minutes after the break Irish lock Paul O'Connell muscled his way over for try number three and hooker Frankie Sheahan followed suit after 68 mintues to bring up the bonus point. That try came while O'Gara and Castres' Irish international prop Fitzpatrick were cooling off on the touchlines and, after 78 minutes, English referee Roy Maybank dismissed Castres prop Alessio Galasso after another skirmish. All that was left was for ex-All Blacks Christian Cullen to show off his skill and strength with a fifth home try to round off a good days work for Munster. Scorers:Munster (17) 36 Tries: Foley, Leamy, O'Connell, Sheahan, Cullen Con: O'Gara (3), Burke Pen: O'Gara Castres (8) 8 Try: Lhande Pen: Marticorena Munster: Cullen; Payne, Mullins, Henderson, Horgan; O'Gara, Stringer; Horan, Sheahan, Hayes, O'Callaghan, O'Connell, Quinlan, Leamy, Foley, capt. Replacements: Blaney, McIlwham, Hogan, Williams, Prendergast, Burke, Lawlor. Castres: Mola, Lhande, Dourthe, Marticorena, Bory, Sadourny, Albouy, Reggiardo, Vigneaux, Galasso, Nallet, Capo, Froment, Bias, Volley. Replacements: Argenese, Fitzpatrick, Barrier, Deen, Raffault, Metcalfe, Morales. Referee: Roy Maybank (RFU).