Racing move to fifth after Castres Top14 victory

Racing-Metro leap-frogged Montpellier and Stade Francais into fifth place in the Top 14 with a bonus-point 27-16 home win over Castres on Friday.

Despite having three players sin-binned in the second-half, the home side notched up four tries to one from fourth-placed Castres, who dominated large periods of the game but whose defence was shown up to be porous at best.

The trusted boot of prolific goal kicker Romain Teulet got Castres on the scoreboard first, the full-back nailing a touchline penalty in the eighth minute.

The opening try came when Racing’s South African full-back Francois Steyn capitalised on a woeful attempt at a mispass by Castres’ Fiji centre Seremia Bai, in a clear-cut five-on-two situation, intercepting and sprinting away for a 75-metre run-in try.

Castres captain Chris Masoe was then sinbinned in the 34th minute for a ruck infringement, Racing scrum-half Sebastien Descons taking advantage with his first successful penalty, Teulet cutting the deficit to two points with his second penalty shortly after.

With Masoe still in the bin, Racing centre Fabrice Estebanez set up a try for Fijian winger Sireli Bobo, palming off a feeble tackle by fly-half Pierre Bernard to make something out of nothing. Descons was again off target with his conversion.

No sooner had Masoe returned to action than Racing hooker Benjamin Noirot was yellow carded for tackling a player without the ball, with Castres dominating possession and Racing backs to the wall, deep inside their own 22m area.

Racing were reduced to 13 men when Bobo was sent to the bin for a blatant foul at a ruck, Teulet hitting his third penalty to make it 13-9 to the home side.

But, against the odds, Racing crossed for another try, Steyn bursting through some weak defence to offload to winger Juan Imhoff, who in turn found Henry Chavency on his inside, the centre bundling himself over for the five-pointer Descons converted.

Castres hit back with Romain Martial showing good strength to cross in the corner despite the efforts of Chavency and Steyn, Teulet claiming the extras.

A good angle from Imhoff saw the Argentine sear through Castres’ porous defence for a quick response, Descons landing the conversion to make it 27-16 to Racing.

But Racing were insistent of not making it an easy evening, lock Lionel Mallet shown the team’s third yellow card in the 70th minute.

The Parisians hung on, however, to move into fifth spot, with just the top six sides going into the end-of-season play-offs, with only four matches remaining after this weekend.

On Saturday, Top 14 leaders Toulouse travel to the Stade de France for a clash against Stade Francais and second-placed Clermont are away to Biarritz.

Bayonne, sitting second bottom ahead of only Lyon, face a crucial relegation dogfight at Perpignan, who themselves are just a point ahead of the Basque club.

Other matches include Lyon entertaining Bordeaux-Begles, Brive hosting Toulon, and Agen travelling to Montpellier.

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