Edinburgh fall short in France
December 9, 2010
Castres's lock Kirill Kulemin is tackled by two Edinburgh defenders
© Getty Images
Edinburgh's hopes of progressing to the knock-out stage of the Heineken Cup appear all but over after they slipped to a narrow 21-16 defeat at Castres Olympique.
Simon Webster stepped off the replacements' bench to score a late try that set up a nerve-wracking climax at Stade Pierre Antoine. But the Scots could not muster the final score that would have clinched a famous win in France.
Instead it was two tries in the space of five minutes from the French hosts in the second half, while Edinburgh were reduced to 14 men, which proved decisive.
Vincent Inigo and Steve Malonga both crossed for tries while Edinburgh lock Fraser McKenzie was in the sin bin for a professional foul as Castres stepped up a gear.
Edinburgh have now claimed a losing bonus point from all three of their games in Pool One, following narrow losses to Cardiff and Northampton, but with only three games remaining, there now appears little chance of progressing further.
Edinburgh's only victory in France came here at Castres two years ago and there was hope of reproducing that success again as half-time with the scores locked at 9-9.
Castres threatened to break lose in the early exchanges and Edinburgh's back-row felt the pressure, Ross Rennie conceding the first penalty following Romain Cabannes' strong run through midfield, before Roddy Grant gave away a second. Romain Teulet kicked both for an early 6-0 lead before Chris Paterson responded after 17 minutes, against the run of play.
Teulet added a third penalty as Edinburgh were guilty of making unforced errors, though they managed to claw their way back into contention through a second penalty from Paterson and a long-range effort from scrum-half Greig Laidlaw.
Both sides were desperate to claim first blood in the second half but failed to take their chances. Paterson saw his kick edge the wrong side of the posts before Pierre Bernard, a replacement for injured Teulet, also missed his first effort after Castres fluffed an attacking lineout.
Castres lost their Scottish second-row Scott Murray, facing his former club, to an injury after 50 minutes but their back row began to dominate as the pack stepped up.
McKenzie was shown a yellow card after 57 minutes for his professional foul at a ruck as Castres surged forward through former All Black Chris Masoe. Fellow back-row forward Joe Tekori broke from the tail of the resulting scrum, drawing in Grant and Lee Jones before handing wing Inigo an easy finish.
Bernard missed the conversion but Castres went for the jugular and when Rennie was robbed of possession in midfield, the French broke away to score. Masoe stormed upfield before Inigo and Tekori combined for Malonga to touch down behind the posts.
Edinburgh hit back with eight minutes remaining through replacement Webster after Rennie broke clear.
Scott Newlands and Grant surged forward and Webster crashed on to Laidlaw's pass and stretched out to score.
Paterson converted but Edinburgh once again fell agonisingly short.
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