European Rugby Champions Cup: Castres Olympique v Exeter Chiefs

Slade saw yellow for a late push
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
Played Won Points
1. Munster 2 1 7
2. Castres 2 1 5
3. Gloucester 2 1 4
4. Exeter 2 0 3

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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