Edinburgh beat Castres with a bonus point despite loss of three Scotland internationals
Mike Blair’s side had to deal with a number of early setbacks but adapted well, making running repairs before overcoming their French visitors 31-20.
Luke Crosbie was particularly impressive as the home side notched a brace of tries in each half. The first half scores came through Viliame Mata and a penalty try, with replacement stand-off Charlie Savala and Ben Vellacott adding two more after the interval.
An ankle injury to Duhan van der Merwe forced Edinburgh into a change before kick-off, with Damien Hoyland taking his place on the wing. The home side then lost two more of their Scotland contingent in the early minutes. Stuart McInally, the hooker, took a heavy blow and went off for a head injury assessment. He failed to reappear, and was replaced by Tom Cruse. Stand-off Blair Kinghorn followed McInally off shortly afterwards, hobbling to the sidelines as Savala entered the fold.
Despite the setbacks it was Edinburgh who struck first, going route one after winning a penalty five metres out. Pierre Schoeman tried his luck with a tap and go before Mata took it on and forced his way over. Emiliano Boffelli converted.
Castres had made a raft of change but any notion that they weren’t taking the Champions Cup seriously was quickly dispelled as they plundered two tries in five minutes. Hooker Pierre Colonna got the first, barging his way through some lacklustre Edinburgh tackling to go over in the corner after his side had kicked to the corner from a scrum penalty.
The French side’s backs then got in on the act, full-back Julien Dumora playing in centre Antoine Zeghdar who was able to offload to Julien Blanc despite Goosen’s tackle. The scrum-half scored but Dumora was off target with both conversion attempts.
It was open and entertaining, with play swinging from end to end. Grant Gilchrist went close for the home side but was held up over the line before Edinburgh regained the lead with a penalty try. Having kicked a penalty to the corner they won the lineout but as they attempted to set up the maul it was collapsed by the combined efforts of Kevin Kornath and Quentin Walcker.
Tom Foley, the English referee, acted quickly, awarding the penalty try and showing prop Walcker the yellow card. Kornath escaped but was subbed off shortly afterwards as Castres rejigged their front row.
Dumora reduced the lead to 14-13 with a long-range penalty and the visitors came close to scoring a third try just before half-time but Edinburgh held firm, in sharp contrast to the recent home game with Munster where they conceded just before and just after the break.
They reaped the dividend of their durability after seven minutes of the second half. Crosbie’s good work put Edinburgh in a promising position and the flanker’s dummy run then created space for Lang to play in Savala to score, triggering a blast of Men At Work’s Down Under over the soundsystem.
Edinburgh’s replacements were playing a key role and it was another, Chris Dean, who sparked the move for the bonus-point try, playing a delicate kick through for Lang who booted it into the try zone. Martin Laveau tried to touch it down but the Castres wing failed to get anything on the bouncing ball and Vellacott nipped in to score, Boffelli converting.
Castres’ response was immediate. Edinburgh failed to deal with the restart and the French side built the phases before Adrien Seguret spotted the gap and went over, with Ben Botica adding the extras, reducing Edinburgh’s lead to 28-20.
Boffelli’s late penalty rounded off an excellent afternoon’s work for Mike Blair’s side.
Scorers: Edinburgh: Tries: Mata, Penalty try, Savala, Vellacott. Cons: Boffelli 3. Pen: Boffelli.
Castres: Tries: Colonna, Blanc, Seguret. Con: Botica. Pen: Dumora.
Yellow card: Quentin Walcker (Castres 36).
Edinburgh: 15. Emiliano Boffelli, 14. Damien Hoyland, 13. Matt Currie (23. Chris Dean 48), 12. James Lang, 11. Wes Goosen, 10. Blair Kinghorn (22. Charlie Savala 13), 9. Ben Vellacott, 1. Pierre Schoeman (17. Boan Venter 62), 2. Stuart McInally (16. Tom Cruse 3), 3. WP Nel (18. Angus Williams 62), 4. Glen Young (19. Marshall Sykes 57), 5. Grant Gilchrist (c), 6. Jamie Ritchie, 7. Luke Crosbie (20. Ben Muncaster 68), 8. Viliame Mata.
Replacements: 21. Charlie Shiel.
Castres Olympique: 15. Julien Dumora (23. Thomas Larregain 53), 14. Martin Laveau, 13. Antoine Zeghdar, 12. Adrien Seguret, 11. Antoine Bouzerand, 10. Ben Botica, 9. Julien Blanc (22. Rory Kockott 63), 1. Quentin Walcker (Loîs Guérois-Galisson 53), 2. Pierre Colonna (16. Brice Humbert 51), 3. Aurélien Azar 18. (Antoine Guillamon 53), 4. Gauthier Maravat (19. Florent Vanverberghe 53), 5. Théo Hannoyer, 6. Baptiste Delaporte (c), 7. Asier Usarraga (21. Josaia Raisuqe 74), 8. Kevin Kornath (17. Loîs Guérois-Galisson 38-45; 20. Baptiste Cope 53).
Referee: Tom Foley (England)
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