Castres kick off Heineken Cup with Saints victory

Top 14 Champions Castres kicked off their Heineken Cup campaign with a 19-13 victory over Northampton Saints at Stade Pierre Antoine on Saturday.

Castres took an early lead in the match when winger Romain Martial got past George North to run in the opening try in the seventh minute.

Northampton Saints finished within seven points of their hosts so they take a losing bonus point from the match.

A loose pass from Luther Burrell turned a possible Northampton Saints score
into a try at the other end for the French champions that laid the foundation
for them to notch their first win in the opening round of the Heineken Cup since
2005.

Had Burrell’s pass reached his team mate it would have been curtains for Castres,
but instead their flying wing Romain Martial intercepted, pinned back his ears
and stayed five yards ahead of the chasing George North on the race to the posts.

Rory Kockott added the simple conversion and Castres were on their way to preserving
their unbeaten home record this season.

Stephen Myler replied with a penalty for the English Premiership side, but
Kockott landed a monster penalty off the half-way line to give the home side
a 10-3 interval lead.

Saints lost Ben Foden to the sin-bin just before the break, but those three
points were the only ones the visitors conceded while he was off. However, Kockett
made it 13-3 three minutes into the second half.

At that stage Saints went back to basics and made headway through their driving
mauls and power scrums. It brought a reward with a try from skipper Dylan Hartley
and Myler’s conversion cut the deficit to three points.

Kockott stepped up to kick a penalty after 55 minutes after a truck and trailer
offence from the Saints pack to provide some breathing space once again for
the home side. Myler was wide with a penalty but quickly made amends with 10
minutes to play to make it 16-13.

But Kockott had the final word with his fourth penalty to wrap up the pints,
and take his match account to 14 points.

Castres lock Rodrigo Capo Ortega was named man of the match.

Final Score Castres 19 (10) Northampton Saints 13 (3)

Scorers

Castres
Tries – Martial
Pen – Kockott 4
Con – Kockott
Drop –

Northampton Saints
Tries – Hartley
Pen – Myler 2
Con – Myler
Drop –

Match Officials
Referee
: George Clancy (Ireland),
Assistant ref: Gary Conway (Ireland),
Assistant ref: Eddie Hogan-O’Connell (Ireland),
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland),
Citing Commissioner: Murray Whyte (Ireland)

Teams

Castres Olympique

Geoffrey Palis; Romain Martial, Romain Cabannes, Remi Lamerat, Maxwell Evans; Remi Tales (c), Rory Kockott; Mihaita Lazar, Brice Mach, Anton Peikrishvili, Richie Gray, Rodrigo Capo Ortega, Jannie Bornman, Piula Faasalele, Antonie Claassen

Replacements: Marc-Antoine Rallier, Karena Wihongi, Michael Coetzee, Christophe Samson, Pedrie Wannenburg, Julien Tomas, Remi GROSSO, Daniel Kirkpatrick

Northampton Saints

Ben Foden; Ken Pisi, George Pisi, Luther Burrell, George North; Steve Myler, Kahn Fotualii; Alex Corbisiero, Dylan Hartley (c), Salesi Ma’afu, Courtney Lawes, Christian Day, Tom Wood, Calum Clark, Sam Dickinson

Replacements: Mikey Haywood, Alex Waller, Tom Mercey, Samu Manoa, Phil Dowson, Lee Dickson, James Wilson, Jamie Elliott

With thanks to ERC Rugby

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