It was an error-ridden match at Stade Pierre-Antoine in the steady rain on Friday night when Castres hosted Racing-Métro - a largely drab affair till the last three minutes, a try and what followed - an absorbing 10 minutes.
In that time Racing took the lead and then fought to keep it, coming from behind to win 23-19, ending Castres's run of victories.
With three minutes to play Castres led 19-16 and then suddenly Racing's 19-year-old Fijian centre, usually a wing, burst down the left touchline, chipped, gathered and scored right in the corner. Right from touch strong Gaëtan Germain converted. After 209 minutes Racing had led 13-0. It took them another 57 minutes to get another score, the winning score.
But Castres were not done. A free kick set them going as the siren to end the game sounded. Play went on for some seven minutes as Castres moved down the field, their advanced fuelled by six penalties as they went through phases and moved closer and closer to the Racing line. They got to three metres from the line and tapped a five-metre penalty but all of this skill and effort came to nought when they were penalised and Racing kicked out.
Wearing red, Racing kicked off. Castres had the first chance to score when Rory Kockott missed a long-range penalty kick at goal. In Castres's previous two matches, Kockott had kicked 15 penalty goals. Missed this one, he was taken off kicking duty and Romain Teulet took over. He also missed a kick but Racing were more wayward, missing four penalty kicks at goal.
Still Sébastien Descons kicked a penalty to open the scoring after 9 minutes and then scrumhalf Mathieu Lorée kicked a drop from in front. Teulet goaled and after 15 minutes Racing led 6-3.
Kockott was having an erratic game in the wet - the odd good break but lots of passes that went astray and then a kick charged down by Bernard le Roux. The flank collected the ball and as he was being tackled played infield to Descons who scampered over in the right corner, whence he converted. 13-5 after 20 minutes.
Kockott broke and Castres were bashing in the line. The referee penalised Racing and Castres opted for a five-metre scrum. Masoe picked up and ambled over. It was such a simple try. Teulet converted and then, after the half-time siren had sounded, Kockott kicked down towards the left corner. Julien Saubade had the ball covered but knocked into touch. He was penalised and Teulet made the half-time score 13-all.
Castres had the better of the first part of the second half but the Racing defence kept them out and they had to be satisfied with two penalty goals. 19-13 but then Racing fought back. Two fumbles set Racing on the attack and a penalty by Germain took them to 19-16 with 17 minutes to play.
Racing nearly scored from a drop. It took a referral to the TMO to determine that the ball had dipped just under the bar. But Castres had touched the ball and it resulted in a five-metre scrum. The scrum collapsed and was reset three times. When it collapsed again, the referee penalised Castres, to their relief. There were still 8 minutes to play.
Argentinian Juan Jose Imhoff started a counterattack. A maul ensued and the ball squired out on the side. Nicolas Durand snapped it up and gave to Vakatawa, setting in motion those last minutes of the match.
Castres got a bonus point out of the match which is enough to take them one point above Clermont Auvergne on the log but Clermont have a game in hand.
Tries: Descons, Vakatawa
Cons: Descons, Germain
Pens: Descons, Germain
Pens: Teulet 4
Castres: 15 Romain Teulet , 14 Max Evans, 13 Romain Cabannes, 12 Seremaia Bai, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Rémi Tales, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Chris Masoe (captain), 7 Yannick Caballero, 6 Jannie Bornman, 5 Joe Tekori, 4 Matthias Rolland, 3 Karena Wihongi, 2 Mathieu Bonello, 1 Michael Coetzee
Replacements: 16 Brice Mach, 17 Anton Peikrishvili, 18 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 19 Scott Murray, 20 Alexandre Albouy, 21 Pierre Bernard, 22 Pierre-Gilles Lakafia, 23 Rossouw Kruger
Racing-Métro: 15 Gaëtan Germain, 14 Julien Saubade, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Guillaume Boussès, 11 Juan Jose Imhoff 10 Sébastien Descons, 9 Mathieu Lorée, 8 Rémi Vaquin, 7 Antoine Battut, 6 Bernard le Roux, 5 Jone Qovu, 4 Karim Ghezal, 3 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 2 Gregory Arganèse, 1 Julien Brugnaut
Replacements: 16 Thomas Bianchin , 17 Eddy Ben Arous, 18 Fabrice Metz, 19 Nathan Lane, 20 Nicolas Durand, 21 Julien Jané, 22 Julien Côme, 23 Johan Coetzee
Referee: Patrick Pechambert
Assistant referees: Nicolas Datas, Philippe Gorbenko
Television match official: Hervé Dubes
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