Edinburgh edge Castres in thriller
December 20, 2010
Rodrigo Capo Ortega worms his way over the Edinburgh whitewash during the game at Murrayfield
© Getty Images
David Blair converted Simon Webster's late try to earn Edinburgh a dramatic 24-22 victory over Castres in their rearranged Heineken Cup Pool 1 clash at Murrayfield on Monday afternoon.
Edinburgh were leading by seven points with just over 15 minutes remaining when scrum-half Greg Laidlaw was yellow carded. Castres ruthlessly exploited their numerical advantage, forcing a penalty try to level matters and then taking the lead Sebastien Tillous-Borde crossed.
However, the two extra points went begging and that ultimately proved crucial because Edinburgh, upon being restored to their full complement, then sent replacement Webster through to score to make it 22 points apiece. That left Blair with the opportunity to win the game for Edinburgh and he took it with aplomb, nailing the resulting conversion to leave the visitors in total shock.
Edinburgh lost 21-16 in France last weekend, suffering their third defeat from three Heineken Cup games this term, but picking up a third losing bonus point. And despite today's victory they still face a difficult task to fall into the Amlin Challenge Cup from a group led by Northampton.
In a match postponed 24 hours due to snow and ice and played in front of an empty 67,000-seat stadium as a result of conditions in the Scottish capital, Castres fly-half Pierre Bernard kicked a 45-metre penalty after four minutes and Chris Paterson missed a kick from a similar distance two minutes later.
But it did not delay Edinburgh unduly as Tim Visser's solo score on eight minutes put the hosts in front. The 6ft 4in, 17st Dutchman picked up the ball inside the 10-metre line, stepped inside and then out of the Castres defence before bursting down the touchline to touchdown. Paterson converted.
Castres responded in the 13th minute with Rodrigo Capo Ortega coming up from the bottom of a rolling maul after the forwards rumbled over. Seremaia Baikeinuku added the extras.
The usually accurate Paterson missed the second of his first three attempts at goal before Visser, who could qualify for Scotland through residency in 2012, set up a second try for Edinburgh after 22 minutes. The left winger stormed 40 metres down the opposite flank after ghosting past the Castres defence before a tap tackle denied him a second personal score. However, he popped the ball for Lee Jones to score. Paterson converted from the touchline, handing the hosts a 14-10 half-time lead.
Paterson, who is Scotland's most-capped player and highest points scorer, went off at the interval with a shoulder injury and Blair assumed the kicking duties, extending Edinburgh's lead to seven points after 47 minutes.
Laidlaw was sin-binned for not retreating at a free-kick, handing the visitors the initiative. Castres opted to pack down for the resulting penalty and Edinburgh's scrum could not withstand the continual pressure. After three attempts to re-set, referee Wayne Barnes awarded a penalty try and Baikeinuku added the simple conversion to make it 17-17.
Tillous-Borde sniped round the blindside to score but the missed conversion proved costly. With four minutes left, Webster latched onto a Blair kick through and capitalised on a Castres mistake to score with Blair adding the winning points with the conversion.
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