Castres see off Cardiff
October 15, 2010
Castres' Matthieu Bonello is tackled by the Cardiff Blues defence
© Getty Images
Castres underlined their status as a forced to be reckoned with in Heineken Cup Pool 1 by defeating the Cardiff Blues 27-20 at the Stade Pierre Antoine on Friday night.
Castres bossed the first half and after the boot of fullback Romain Teulet had helped his side into a healthy nine-point lead, the home side posted two tries in the space of three minutes through wingers Vincent Inigo and Marc Andreu to reach the interval 27-6 ahead.
The Blues came storming back in the second period, holding their hosts scoreless while at the same time engineering tries for Ma'ama Molitika and Scott Andrews. However, Andrews' score came with just a minute of normal time remaining and although Castres were forced to see out the game with 14 men following the sin-binning of Thomas Sanchou, the Blues were ultimately forced to settle for nothing more than a losing bonus point.
Cardiff coach Dai Young would have left France satisfied with the bonus point considering his team were steamrollered in the opening half. Castres were on the front foot from the start and opened the scoring thanks to a Teulet penalty. The fullback landed another two penalties either side of a Seremaia Bai drop-goal before Ben Blair struck with Cardiff's first points. The goal-kicking full-backs exchanged further penalties to bring the score to 15-6.
But the French side landed a knock-out blow after 36 minutes when Inigo danced through the visitors' defence. The wing pounced on a speculative Yoan Audrin kick after the bounce beat the visitors' defence and burst through the gap before skipping past the covering Leigh Halfpenny to score.
Teulet converted to give the side a 22-6 lead and things got even worse for Cardiff when Inigo's wing partner grabbed a try of his own minutes later. Audrin was at the centre of the action again and burst down the Cardiff wing. The ball was spread wide to Teulet who chipped to the corner for Andreu to score, giving the hosts their commanding half-time lead.
But Cardiff sparked into life after the interval and played with an increased level of intensity. They got their first reward six minutes into the second period when Molitika crashed over. Wales centre Tom Shanklin re-gathered his own grubber and passed inside to Chris Czekaj, who fed inside to substitute Tom James. James was tackled high with the try line at his mercy but was able to recycle the ball. Richie Rees popped to Tonga international Molitika who drove through two defenders to score. Sweeney converted to pull the Blues back to 27-13.
Cardiff had their tails up after the try and threatened to score on several opportunities. In a dominant final 10 minutes the Blues continued to push for a further try. The score looked inevitable with minutes to go but the hosts killed the ball at the breakdown.
Sanchou was given his marching orders and Cardiff needed no second invitation. After a quick tap and several phases, Andrews drove his way through the Castres defence, with the help of Sam Warburton, to score the valuable try which Sweeney duly converted.
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