Racing and Castres claims share of the spoils
February 20, 2010
Castres' Marc Andreu is tackled by the Racing Metro defence
© Getty Images
Racing Metro and Castres battled to a 24-24 draw in their Top 14 clash at Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir in Colombes.
Tries from centres Frans Steyn and Henry Chavancy gave Racing a comfortable advantage at the break but the boot of Castres' Romain Teulet proved pivotal with the fullback slotting 21 points to put his side on course for a rare away victory. But Racing fly-half Jonathan Wisniewkski snatched a share of the spoils for his side with the last kick of the game.
Castres, who entered the game level with Perpignan at the top of the table, were targeting a league double over Racing having scored a narrow 9-6 victory when the two sides met back in September but had since struggled to find their best form on their travels with their last three away games ending in defeat. Racing had only been beaten twice at home this season coming into this clash and could boast a victory over title favourites Clermont Auvergne in their last outing. Castres coaches Laurent Travers and Laurent Labit were without injured prop Luc Ducalcon but could call on in-form No.8 Chris Masoe. Racing coach Pierre Berbizier was boosted by the return of flanker Sebastien Chabal from injury while Italy centre Andrea Masi was named on the bench.
Castres began brightly and opened the scoring with a penalty from Teulet but Racing responded quickly following the re-start and a smart catch and dive from an attacking lineout drew a penalty against Castres tight-head Daniel Saayman that Wisniewski duly slotted. The tit-for-tat exchange continued when Racing were penalised for not releasing in the tackle and Teulet added to his tally with another simple kick.
A moment of magic from Racing's Sireli Bobo lit up the game midway through the half with the Fijian's dancing feet taking him through the Castres defence before he chipped ahead but his run was halted by a body check from McIntyre that resulted in a yellow card for the Kiwi and Wisniewski's second penalty that levelled the scores.
The hosts hammered home their numerical advantage just a minute later with Springbok Steyn ghosting through the defence before cutting a fine line and racing in to score the opening try of the game. Wisniewski's conversion made it a seven-point score.
Castres' Chris Masoe led the fight back with a strong run into midfield before kicking ahead for Yohan Audrin to chase but the ball was scrambled into touch by Racing. The Castres forwards surged towards the line from the resulting lineout but were frustrated by the hosts with a knock on bringing an end to their quest for a response. Back to full strength with the return of McIntyre, Castres continued to press and the fullback reduced the arrears with a well-taken penalty with Teulet nursing a knock.
Castres ended the half strongly but lacked a clinical edge in the final third and a high tackle on hooker Akvsenti Giorgadze by Racing's Simon Raiwalui brought a premature end to the Georgian's game. The visitors' hopes took a further blow just before the break when Racing worked the ball wide to Julien Saubade who drew his man before feeding Chavancy inside for a try. Wisniewski's conversion cemented Racing's lead, leaving Castres with plenty of work in the second half.
The visitors started the second half brightly and their industry brought immediate reward when Racing lock Santiago Dellape was penalised for hands in the ruck and Teulet's third penalty reduced the arrears to six points. Flanker Ibrahim Diarra was the next to stretch the home side's defence and he was supported well by scrum-half Alexandre Albouy but again the attack stuttered in the shadow of the posts. But Teulet's boot continued to chip away at Racing's lead and his fourth penalty offered them further hope.
A late hit by Racing flanker Johnny Leo'o on McIntyre resulted in the game's second yellow card and Teulet's long-range penalty brought the side level once again and made him the leading points scorer in this season's competition.
Wisniewski then pulled a drop goal attempt wide of the posts before Teulet showed him how it is done with an incredible effort from just inside his own half to give his side the lead. But Wisniewski rediscovered his scoring touch soon after to square things up. Racing's indiscipline let them down again moments later with a deliberate knock on gifting Teulet the chance to restore his side's narrow lead.
But there was time for one late twist with a late penalty allowing Wisniewski to rescue a draw and keep his side's play-off hopes alive. The result, combined with Perpignan's shock loss to Montauban, was enough to see Castres reclaim top spot in the table while the two-point haul helped Racing cement their place in the all-important top six.
Firdose Moonda talks to Rob Louw about the difficulties of being a South African touring New Zealand at the height of Apartheid
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games