Castres win blows pool two wide open
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Castres Olympique blew Pool Two wide open after a dramatic 13-12 victory over Munster at Stade Pierre Fabre on Saturday.
With two rounds remaining Munster top the pool on 12 points, followed by Castres (nine), Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester (both on eight).
The visitors made a great start as Castres were penalised at the breakdown. Joey Carbery opted for the posts instead of the corner and made no mistake.
Scott Spedding was then caught a fraction late and Wayne Barnes correctly awarded a home penalty. From that, Benjamin Urdapilleta nailed the penalty kick in tricky conditions, which seemed to be the order of Round Four.
Two minutes after missing a kickable penalty, Joey Carbery had another opportunity from close range and this one split the uprights. Like the first meeting, the opening 20 minutes was a little stop-start with errors throughout due to the driving rain and wind.
Castres then took the lead for the first time – a lead they would keep for the remainder of the match. It took TMO to award the try after the Castres forwards powered towards the line, with Kevin Firmin diving over and Urdapilleta converting.
Munster piled on the pressure before half-time before a deliberate knock-on from Rory Kockott who spent the first nine minutes of the second half in the sin bin.
In the second half, Conor Murray tried an ambitious flick between two Castres men but it was deflected clear. Wayne Barnes was playing penalty advantage, though, and Carbery slotted the simple penalty between the sticks.
Three minutes later, Munster collapsed the driving maul, with Niall Scannell heading for the sin bin as a result. Urdapilleta opted for three points instead of a kick to the corner and made no mistake.
Carbery hit back yet again with another penalty kick but it was his next effort from the kicking tee that was most important.
With the match poised at 13-12, Andrew Conway collected the ball out wide, beating his man before flicking the ball over the top of the Castres line.
But when collecting his own kick, he just knocked on before touching down. However, Marc-Antoine Rallier – who was given a yellow card – was penalised for a tackle off the ball on Peter O’Mahony and Munster had a chance to take the lead.
Carbery stepped up but could only hook his attempt wide in what was the last scoring chance for the Irish province.
Munster travel to face Gloucester in Round Five, while Castres Olympique will take on Exeter Chiefs.
For Castres Olympique:
Pens: Urdapilleta 2
Pens: Carbery 4
Yellow cards: Rory Kockott (Castres Olympique, 40), Niall Scannell (Munster, 55), Marc-Antoine Rallier (Castres Olympique, 70)
Castres: 15 Scott Spedding, 14 Martin Laveau, 13 Thomas Combezou, 12 Florian Vialelle, 11 Taylor Paris, 10 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Maama Vaipulu, 7 Mathieu Babillot (captain), 6 Yannick Caballero, 5 Loic Jacquet, 4 Thibault Lassalle, 3 Marc Clerc, 2 Kevin Firmin, 1 Paea Fa’anunu.
Replacements: 16 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 17 Antoine Tichit, 18 Wilfrid Hounkpatin, 19 Christophe Samson, 20 Kevin Gimeno, 21 Robert Ebersohn, 22 Armand Batlle, 23 Ludovic Radosavljevic.
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Sammy Arnold, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Christiaan Stander, 7 Chris Cloete, 6 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 5 Billy Holland, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Kevin O’Byrne, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Fineen Wycherley, 20 Arno Botha, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Jaco Taute.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Matthew Carley (England), Paul Dix (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)