Castres edge out Glasgow
December 7, 2012
Castres won a closely-fought match away to Glasgow
© PA Photos
Glasgow saw their Heineken Cup hopes extinguished as they failed to get the bonus point win they needed against Castres on Friday night - with the French side claiming a narrow 9-6 victory at Scotstoun Stadium.
The match was a poor advert for European rugby - one of brutal frontal assaults relieved by long kicks and penalty awards and was little reward for the 3,348 spectators who turned up on a freezing night. Ultimately it was decided by the boot with three successful penalties from Castres' Rory Kockott outdoing the pair from Glasgow's Scott Wight.
The tentative early stages saw Glasgow move into a 6-3 lead, early in the second quarter, thanks to a two out of two penalty kicking count from stand-off Wight. Castres scrum-half Kockott, by contrast, had succeeded with only one from four, though an unsuccessful attempt did come back off the post. But his fifth attempt, in the 36th minute, which was long and straight, was successful.
The sides went in after a first half that had failed to warm a chill Glasgow evening with the score tied at 6-6. Both teams had had spells of possession but neither goal line had been seriously threatened thanks to determined tackling and referee Wayne Barnes detecting penalty offences. Notably Glasgow had twice shot themselves in the foot at set scrums by engaging too early.
Glasgow made a livelier start to the second half but after 47 minutes Wight, in a moment which is sure to haunt him, was unable to take advantage of a penalty shot which was straight on from the Castres 22.
In turn Castres twice were unable to make anything of pressure situations on Glasgow's line and lost their advantage by conceding penalties.With 57 minutes gone Kockott was able to nudge Castres into the lead with a long penalty.
The hard-fought exchanges appeared to have resulted in concern for Glasgow captain Al Kellock who went off late on with an arm injury. With Glasgow unable to threaten further they saw their European hopes end as Castres held on to keep their alive.
The win now means Castres could be in the running for a place in the quarter-finals and will be confident of repeating the result when Glasgow travel to south-west France next week.
"This is the first time that Castres have won an away match in the Heineken Cup," Castres club director Patrick Alran said. "I am confident we can win but only if the players again are able to approach the game in a serious mood - there is a lot at stake.
"The team showed great spirit. In the first half they could have been put off by the three early misses out of four attempts by Rory. He is a player who usually has a 90 per cent record. Then in the second period they could not take two try scoring chances so right to the end Glasgow could have snatched a win. So they had to dig in throughout to keep their morale high."
For Glasgow's director of rugby Gregor Townsend the performance and the result made painful viewing. "The second half was horrible. Between making errors and conceding penalties we couldn't get going," he said. "We did start to string together phases in the first half and at the pause they were shown in the dressing room where there were holes in the Castres defence. But they never got near to exploiting them because they couldn't get going."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Munster, No.8s, the imploding Australians, wonderful Glasgow and Lancaster's dilemma - it is Monday Maul time
As Ewen McKenzie exits stage left, the ARU remains under huge pressure, with CEO Bill Pulver feeling the brunt of Australian rugby's displeasure, Greg Growden writes
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the remarkable events in Brisbane and the first round of the European Rugby Champions Cup
Following Saturday's shock announcement, we look at the highs and the lows of Ewen McKenzie's brief stint as Wallabies coach.