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Explained: Why Leinster Didn't Need To Go For The Win Against Castres

Explained: Why Leinster Didn't Need To Go For The Win Against Castres
By Mikey Traynor Updated

Leinster battled to a hard-fought 24-24 draw with Castres, knowing that while top spot in the group was already wrapped up, there was still a possibility that they could finish outside of the top four seeds for the next round and face an away quarter-final.

Leinster came out flying with an early score Robbie Henshaw, but found themselves behind 17-10 at the break. In the second half, tries from Henshaw again and Dan Leavy left the score at 24-24 with Castres pushing for a win.

Some great work from the pack saw Leo Cullen's men awarded a penalty on their own line with one minute on the clock. The Sky Sports commentary team were fully expectant that a kick-to-touch would bring a lineout that would see Leinster have one last chance to go up the other end and find a score to win the game, but they were shocked when Jamison Gibson-Park opted instead to end the contest.

So why did he end it there and not give the backs one last chance? Simply because it wasn't worth the risk.

As can be seen from the standings after that Leinster win, the only team that can threaten Leinster's spot as a seeded team, and a team with a home quarter-final, is Connacht.

As you can see, the two points earned in a draw is just enough to leave Connacht, who play Toulouse on Saturday, with a mathematical possibility of taking Leinster's spot, but they would need a bonus point win by a margin of 62 points to do it.

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While Leinster could have attempted to run the pitch and hit a last-minute drop-goal to secure a win, they would also have risked Castres being awarded a penalty and potentially losing the game, thus making Connacht's task a lot more plausible.

Gibson-Park did the right thing, if Connacht can indeed pull off the seemingly improssible then it will perhaps be looked back on as a 'what if moment', but at the end of the day the Leinster players were informed that a draw was good enough.

What it also means is that an away semi-final is almost a certainty, but that is very much a case of crossing that bridge when we come to it.

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