Leinster’s young guns battle back to victory in French friendly
Leo Cullen will be pleased with his side’s character after their narrow win in France
Leinster’s Joe Tomane in action during their friendly against US Montauban. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho
US Montauban 17 Leinster 18
Leinster got their season up and running with a decent workout in France against a Montauban side who will kick off their ProD2 campaign next weekend.
Leo Cullen used an extended squad devoid of his Irish internationals and they got a good test in a sometimes fiery encounter which saw James Lowe and Conor O'Brien sinbinned in separate incidents.
Cullen and his management team will be pleased with the way so many young players stood up to the test to come from behind and claim victory.
Montauban, who finished third in the ProD2 last season, are gearing up for the start of the new campaign next week at home to Carcassonne but the club is facing a crisis of losing nine players next week after apparently breaching the salary cap.
That has fired up the locals as their expected promotion bid could be grounded before the start of the season and there was an edge to the game from the outset.
Montauban hit the front with a converted try from winger Pierre Klur after eight minutes, but Leinster settled and began building the phases.
Lowe was prominent at full-back and Joe Tomane wasted little time getting stuck in on his debut as Leinster took the game to their hosts.
Noel Reid pulled back a penalty after 11 minutes after a good phase of play from the European and Pro14 champions.
Leinster, who were without their internationals, brought the Champions Cup with them and there were long queues for photographs prior to the match on a warm and sunny evening in Montauban.
The heat made the going tough, especially for Leinster, but they pulled the gap back to 7-6 after 17 minutes with another Reid penalty.
Montauban captain Pierrick Esclauze spent 10 minutes in the bin as things got feisty but Leinster were unable to make their numerical advantage count.
Montauban outhalf Jerome Bosviel added to his earlier conversion with a penalty on the stroke of half-time to go in leading by 10-6.
Both teams made a raft of changes at the break with Dave Kearney coming in for his first action since suffering a shoulder injury in March.
Lowe was harshly binned for a tackle seven minutes after 47 minutes but Montauban weren’t able to take advantage and it was Leinster who hit the front when Rory O’Loughlin got over in the right corner.
Tomane, with changes ongoing throughout the pitch, attempted the conversion but blew it well off target.
James Tracy got Leinster’s second try after 58 minutes and this time Tom Daly converted to make it 10-18 to the visitors.
Montauban came with a late flurry which yielded a converted try in the final play from hooker Cyril Guilpin which was converted by Bosviel at the end of a decent workout for both sides.
Scorers: Montauban: Tries: P Klur, C Guilpin. Cons: J Bosviel (2). Pens: Bosviel. Leinster: Tries: R O’Loughlin, J Tracy. Cons: T Daly Pens: Reid (2)
US Montauban: R Swanepoel; P Klur, W Sukanaveita, A Silago, M Debois; J Bosviel, P Graou; E Tekassala, P Van der Westhuizen, B Zanon; P Esclauze, C Dry; S Munoz, J Engelbrecht, A Domenech.
Replacements used: C Guilpin, N Agnesi, S Sergueev, D Vaotoa, Y Ruel Gallay, T Fortunel, B Cadiou, J Facundo, P Tailhades, C Desmoulin, C Vaotoa, C Braendlin, J Maninoa, S Augry, C Briscadieu, F Domenech, A Luatua, P Sayerse, M Mathy.
Leinster: J Lowe; A Byrne, R O’Loughlin, J Tomane, B Daly; N Reid, N McCarthy; P Dooley, B Byrne, M Bent; R Molony, I Nagle; J Murphy, R Ruddock, M Deegan.
Replacements used: J Tracy, E Byrne, V Abdaladze, M Kearney, W Connors, J Gibson-Park, J O’Brien, D Kearney, O Dowling, C O’Brien, T Daly, J Kelly, G Mullin.
Referee: Maxime Challon.