Wasps crash out at Castres
January 25, 2009
Josh Lewsey tries in vain to save Wasps' Heineken Cup campaign
© Getty Images
Wasps slipped out of the Heineken Cup after a 21-15 defeat at Castres. The two-time European champions had to win in the south of France to keep alive their hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals - and looked to be on course when Dominic Waldouck handed them the lead 13 minutes from time.
Wasps missed a host of chances before a second try for Thomas Bouquie handed Castres their second win of the campaign, ending Wasps' interest in this season's tournament. Castres had little more to play for than pride in front of a modest home crowd following four defeats from their five previous pool games.
The hosts drew first blood through Bouquie in the 14th minute after the fullback dummied a pass and stepped through the Wasps line before racing clear from 15 metres out for an impressive solo try, converted by Romain Teulet.
Danny Cipriani registered Wasps' first points on the board in the 18th minute with a penalty but that was only a brief respite as Castres stepped up the pressure with prop Luc Ducalcon going close before being held up over the line. Number eight Iosefa Tekori then charged from the ensuing scrum before slipping a clever pass inside to Chris Masoe, who crashed over to the left of the posts. Teulet swept home the conversion to open a 14-3 lead after 23 minutes.
Wasps were facing the Heineken Cup exit door but were offered a route back through a remarkable solo score by England outside-half Cipriani which reduced the deficit to 14-10 before half-time. Cipriani darted to the right of a ruck 10 metres inside the Castres half, stepped past Masoe and wing Rafael Carballo before streaking clear to touch down under the posts to make his conversion a formality.
Teulet missed the chance to re-establish a seven-point lead when he struck the post with a penalty after Wasps were turned over in midfield, but the Premiership side were guilty of wasting chances as well when Rob Webber failed to gather Paul Sackey's inside pass with the try line at his mercy, before Cipriani pushed a 61st-minute penalty to the right of the posts.
Castres thought they had put the tie out of reach when hooker Akvsenti Giorgadze crossed, only for the try to be ruled out as he was held up over the try line following a length-of-the-field attack. Wasps capitalised on the decision after James Haskell's covering tackle cleared the danger from the resulting scrum.
Mark van Gisbergen led the breakout, Tim Payne and Richard Birkett kept the attack alive before Riki Flutey released Waldouck - who handed off with ease before stepping past Carballo to give Wasps the lead for the first time after 67 minutes. Waldouck made way for Tom Voyce after injuring himself in the process of scoring and Cipriani missed the chance to stretch the one-point lead when he was off the mark with the conversion.
That lead remained intact when Bouquie was also off-target with an ambitious long-range penalty for Castres as the game edged into the final minutes - but again Wasps spurned chances. Van Gisbergen knocked on after Dave Walder broke through with Wasps chasing the bonus point needed to overtake the Ospreys for a place in the last eight.
That miss came back to haunt them when Castres stole victory four minutes from time with Bouquie's second score. Again man of the match Tekori was involved before Castres stretched Wasps out wide, releasing the fullback who passed outside Walder and inside Van Gisbergen with ease to settle the tie. Teulet converted to send Wasps crashing out.
Wasps head coach Shaun Edwards regretted his side's inability to put away their chances, a flaw that has cost them a place at the top table for this season. "Obviously we are all very disappointed with the result and the fact that we are now out of the Heineken Cup," he said. "We had lots of chances to win this game but at this level you have got to be able to finish those chances and we didn't do that today.
"It was massively important for us to get to the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup and we went into the game knowing there were no guarantees, but we always knew that Castres are very strong and were always going to be difficult opponents. Getting the bonus point win here would have been exceptional."
Edwards also lamented his side's bad luck as Castres poached two opportunistic scores. "The first try Castres scored, they picked up and almost walked over the line and for the last try, we were unlucky to have a man down in defence," he said. "We played some great rugby and (Dave) Walder made a lovely break late on, but the counter-attack resulted in a try. "Now we need to put this result behind us and move on. We have to concentrate on making sure we qualify for the Heineken Cup next year."
Castres team manager Alain Gaillard hoped that his side can take the confidence gained from this performance into their campaign to stay in the Top 14. "We are very happy with this result. We haven't always taken our chances this season so we are very pleased that we did today," he said. "To score three tries against a team of the quality of Wasps is fantastic. But most of all we are satisfied with our performance and that we really played some good rugby.
"This is going to give us great confidence going into the league."
Castres: Thomas Bouquié, Paul Bonnefond, Steve Kefu, Lionel Mazars, Rafael Carballo, Romain Teulet, Sébastien Tillous-Borde, Carl Hoeft, Akvsenti Giorgadze, Luc Ducalcon, Lionel Nallet, Rodrigo Capo Ortega, Steve Malonga, Chris Masoe, Joe Tekori
Replacements: Romain Terrain, Fabio Staibano, Kirill Kulemin, Florian Faure, Kevin Senio, Anthony Lagardere, Thomas Sanchou
Wasps: Mark van Gisbergen, Paul Sackey, Dom Waldouck, Riki Flutey, Josh Lewsey, Danny Cipriani, Eoin Reddan, Tim Payne, Rob Webber, Phil Vickery, Simon Shaw, Richard Birkett, Joe Worsley, Serge Betsen, James Haskell
Replacements: Joe Ward, Tom French, George Skivington, Dan Leo, Joseph Simpson, Dave Walder, Tom Voyce
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton