Castres pull off famous win
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Castres Olympique pulled off a famous win at the Stade Pierre-Fabre, as they beat Exeter Chiefs 29-25 after playing almost half the match with 14 men.
Argentine Santiago Cordero got Exeter off to the perfect start, after he startled Florian Vialelle with his quick feet and used his strength to force himself across the whitewash.
Soon after, openside flank Matt Kvesic burst through a maul five metres out to double the Devon side’s lead, but Florian Vialelle responded immediately and found a hole in Exeter’s defence to get the French champions off the mark.
And with that score, the momentum quickly turned to Castres’ favour, with Julian Dumora kicking over two penalties and slotting over a drop goal.
The French flyhalf was then substituted by Yohan Le Bourhis after picking up an injury, but his replacement had no problem from the tee either, as he added three points to his team’s score.
Castres were then given a major set-back, with No. Maama Vaipulu being shown a red card by referee John Lacey and it went from bad to worse for the French side.
Le Bourhis had his kick charged down by his opposite flyhalf Gareth Steenson, who used his fantastic footballing skills to grubber through and dive on the ball over the try line.
The 34-year-old Irishman missed his first conversion of the afternoon but the scores were level at the break.
Lock Steve Mafi – who was named Man of the Match – scored a sensational solo try; using his size, speed and power all at once to cross over for Castres.
The two teams exchanged penalties from Le Bourhis and Steenson, with the latter adding another three points to reduce the margin to four, but with Henry Slade’s late yellow card, Castres hung on to complete a superb win.
Exeter host Gloucester Rugby next in Round Three, while Castres travel to Thomond Park to face Munster.
Tries: Vialelle, Mafi
Cons: Dumora, Le Bourhis
Pens: Dumora 2, Le Bourhis 2
For Exeter Chiefs:
Tries: Cordero, Kvesic, Steenson
Cons: Steenson 2
Pens: Steenson 2
Red card: Maama Vaipulu (Castres, 36)
Yellow card: Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 71)
Castres: 15 Armand Battle, 14 Martin Laveau, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Florian Vialelle, 11 Taylor Paris, 10 Julien Dumora, 9 Ludovic Radosavljevic, 8 Maama Vaipulu, 7 Baptiste Delaporte, 6 Mathieu Babillot, 5 Loic Jacquet, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Daniel Kotze, 2 Jody Jenneker, 1 Antoine Tichit.
Replacements: 16 Paul Sauzaret, 17 Tudor Stroe, 18 Wilfried Hounkpatin, 19 Victor Moreaux, 20 Alex Tulou, 21 Yoann Le Bourhis, 22 Anthony Combezou, 23 Rory Kockott.
Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Gareth Steenson (captain), 9 Stuart Townsend, 8 Tom Lawday, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Don Armand, 5 Wilhelm Van Der Slums, 4 Ollie Atkins, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Sean Lonsdale, 20 Toby Salmon, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Joe Simmonds, 23 Sam Hill.
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Kieran Barry (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)