Match Report: Edinburgh battle to crucial victory at Castres
Edinburgh Rugby battled to a brilliant 34-21 bonus-point win over Heineken Champions Cup Pool A
rivals Castres Olympique at the Pierre Fabre Stadium on Sunday to qualify for the Round of 16.
Having been trailing 21-14 at the break after a fast-paced first half, Edinburgh emerged winners after proving themselves the fitter and more disciplined side over the course of the full 80 minutes.
Edinburgh scored four tries, with David Cherry and William Mata crossing in the first half before Cameron Huitchinson and Ben Vellacott did so in the second.
Castres scored three first-half tries through Josaiah Raisuqe, Adrien Seguret and Wilfrid Hounkpatin, but were unable to hold on for a maiden win in this season’s pool stage.
It was the victorious visitors who got the scoring underway when the Castres front row collapsed under pressure in a scrum.
A driving lineout followed, with hooker Cherry finding the space and finishing well in the ninth minute of the game. Wing Blair Kinghorn added the extras, as he did all the subsequent Edinburgh tries.
🏰 @EdinburghRugby score the opening try of the day as Dave Cherry stretches for the line.
Watch all the #HeinekenChampionsCup action between Castres and Edinburgh live on @beinsports_FR, @btsportrugby, @SuperSportTV and @FloRugby pic.twitter.com/tNcS68jCuM
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) January 15, 2023
But it wasn’t long before Castres responded; a fantastic breakaway move was only denied by an Edinburgh infringement, which earned Kinghorn a yellow.
A slick move from the subsequent play saw flanker Raisuqe plant down an incisive kick, and parity was restored after fly-half Benjamin Urdapilleta added the extras, as he did all for all Castres’ scores.
The French side, incessant on taking advantage of being a man up, eventually crossed through centre Seguret, whose excellent footwork saw him weave his way through the Edinburgh defence and over following a scrum.
It was then Edinburgh’s turn to chase the game, and after eleven relentless, disciplined phases close to the Castres line, No.8 Mata went over as the pressure from the Scottish capital side proved too much.
But the sides would not go into half-time level; a second yellow of the day for the visitors – this time for hooker David Cherry – gave Castres all the opportunity they needed, prop Hounkpatin powering over from close range after a tap-and-go to put his side 21-14 up.
But their lead would not last long after the restart, centre Hutchison, on his Heineken Champions Cup debut, caught Castres napping as he picked his way through a gap in their defence. When he wasn’t held in the tackle, he regained his feet and powered over.
The next score would be similar, this time replacement scrum-half Vellacott found the chink in the Castres rearguard, springing to his feet in a carbon copy of Hutchinson’s effort.
Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) January 15, 2023
We're sure we've seen this before 🤔
Have @EdinburghRugby developed a new signature move?#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/ULCEYtQuW2
As the game rolled on it was Edinburgh who began making dominant collisions and forcing Castres into mistakes, which Kinghorn was more than happy to punish from the tee – he kicked penalties in the 66th and 73rd minutes to further extend the away side’s lead and close out their victory.
Next up for Edinburgh is a home match against Saracens on January 22, while Castres finish their pool stage at Exeter Chiefs on January 21.