Castres edge out Ospreys in Heineken Cup

Top 14 Rugby champions Castres edged out Welsh side the Ospreys 15-9 in a tense
battle at Stade Pierre Antoine in the Heineken Cup.

Castres Olympique closed the gap on Leinster in Pool 1 of the Heineken Cup
after clinging on for a hard-fought victory over the Ospreys.

The French champions lost in Dublin in Round 2 but drew level with the three-time
tournament champions on eight points to kick-start their campaign.

Leinster face Northampton Saints tomorrow, but Castres remain very much in
the running for qualification following the slender win.

The Ospreys, desperate for a victory to keep their slim Heineken Cup hopes
alive, started well at Stade Pierre Antoine. Dan Biggar was agonisingly off-target
with an early drop-goal but he quickly made amends with a penalty.

Rory Kockett should have responded but uncharacteristically missed a pair of
penalties, the latter after Aisea Natoga was shown yellow for a deliberate knock-on.
He temporarily found his range to level the scores on 15 minutes but missed
a third shot at goal as the Ospreys indiscipline went unpunished.

Biggar nudged the visitors back into the lead but Kockett levelled the scores
as the sides entered the break at 6-6.

The French champions began the second-half with far more purpose and they
enjoyed a sustained period of pressure following a fine counter-attack from
Brice Dulin. The Ospreys survived that attack unscathed but Kockett soon nudged
the hosts into the lead after their juggernaut pack roared into life at the
set-piece.

Castres remained camped in Ospreys territory and launched wave after wave of
attacks but the Welsh region held strong.

The pressure eventually told, though, as Sam Lewis infringed at the breakdown
within five minutes of coming on and paid the price for his side’s incessant
offences with a yellow card. Kockett was successful with the ensuing penalty
to hand his side a 12-6 lead after little more than an hour.

The Ospreys fought desperately in the closing stages and Biggar closed the
gap on 73 minutes to maintain his side’s hopes of snatching a dramatic victory.

Geoffrey Palis instantly responded to restore the hosts’ six-point advantage
and they clung on for dear life as both Palis and Seremaia Bai were sin-binned
in the closing stages.

Final Score Castres (6) 15 Ospreys (6) 9

Scorers

Castres
Pens: Kockott (4), Palis

Ospreys
Pens: Biggar (2)

Match Officials
Referee:
Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland),
Assistant ref: David Wilkinson (Ireland),
Assistant ref: Olly Hodges (Ireland),
TMO: Jude Quinn (Ireland),
Citing Commissioner: Alan Mansell (England)

Teams

Castres Olympique: Brice Dulin; Marcel Garvey, Romain Cabannes
(c), Paul Bonnefond, Remi Grosso; Daniel Kirkpatrick, Rory Kockott; Mihaita
Lazar, Marc-Antoine Rallier, Karena Wihongi, Christophe Samson, Richie Gray,
Ibrahim Diarra, Piula Faasalele, Pedrie Wannenburg

Replacements: Michael Coetzee, Yannick Forestier, Anton Peikrishvili, Rodrigo
Capo Ortega, Yannick Caballero, Julien Tomas, Seremaia Bai, Geoffrey Palis

Ospreys: Richard Fussell; Aisea Natoga, Tom Isaacs, Ben John,
Jeff Hassler; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Ryan Bevington, Scott Baldwin, Aaron Jarvis,
Alun-Wyn Jones (c), James King, Tyler Ardron, Justin Tipuric, Ry

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