|Heineken Champions Cup|
|Castres (19) 29|
|Tries: Vialelle, Mafi Cons: Dumora, Le Bourhis Pens: Dumora (2), Le Bourhis (2), Drop-goal: Dumora|
|Exeter (19) 25|
|Tries: Cordero, Kvesic, Steenson Cons: Steenson (2) Pens: Steenson (2)|
Exeter were denied by 14-man Castres as the French hosts’ stubborn defence earned them Champions Cup victory.
Exeter started well, racing into a 14-point lead in as many minutes with Santiago Cordero and Matt Kvesic crossing early on.
But Castres, who lost Maama Vaipulu to a red card for a high hit, fought back to head into half-time level.
The hosts’ Steve Mafi went over for the only try of the second half and Exeter could not unpick a packed defence.
|Champions Cup Pool Two|
Rob Baxter’s side lost their man advantage in the final eight minutes as Henry Slade was shown yellow for a push on Florian Vialelle as the pair chased a kick into the Exeter in-goal area.
Exeter to set up camp on the Castres line in the final minutes, but replacement prop Tomas Francis dropped to a knee at the scrum to concede a penalty and spark home celebrations.
Castres dig in and hold on
Castres lost away to Gloucester last weekend but are a different proposition at Stade Pierre-Fabre where they have scored 80 points in their last two meetings with English opposition.
The French champions were hindered by the loss of fly-half Julien Dumora through injury before Vaipulu was dismissed for a shoulder to the head of Luke Cowan-Dickie.
The hosts’ number eight could have no complaints about his punishment considering his reckless, aggressive challenge and the fact Cowan-Dickie was not even carrying the ball.
His side dug him out of trouble though with resolute defence and occasional ram-raids on the breakdown to steal possession and earn some respite.
Exeter: Dollman; Nowell, Slade, Whitten, Cordero; Steenson (c), Townsend; Moon, Cowan-Dickie, Williams, Atkins, Van Der Sluys, Armand, Kvesic, Lawday.
Replacements: Yeandle, Hepburn, Francis, Lonsdale, Salmon, Maunder, Simmonds, Hill
Castres: Batlle; Laveau, Ebersohn, Vialelle, Paris; Dumora, Radosavljevic; Tichit, Jenneker, Kotze, Mafi, Jacquet, Babillot (c), Delaporte, Vaipulu.
Replacements: Sauzaret, Stroe, Hounkpatin, Moreaux, Tulou, Le Bourhis, Combezou, Kockott.
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