Castres 29-25 Exeter Chiefs
DESPITE FALLING TWO tries behind and then playing 34 minutes one man down, Castres dominated Exeter for long stretches to win their Heineken Champions Cup match 29-25.
Exeter grabbed an early 14-point lead as Santiago Cordero broke through two tackles to score after eight minutes, and then six minutes later, Matt Kvesic erupted from the middle of a maul to touch down.
Castres fought back with a try in the corner by centre Florian Vialelle, a drop goal and two penalties by Julien Dumora and another penalty by Dumora’s replacement Yohan Le Bourhis that put them five points ahead.
They seemed to have undone all their good work in a disastrous final three minutes of the half.
First, Maama Vaipulu smashed his shoulder into Luke Cowan-Dickie’s chin, even though the Exeter hooker did not even have the ball and the Tongan number eight saw red.
Then Exeter out-half Gareth Steenson charged down a kick by Le Bourhis and touched down to level the score.
Castres regained the lead early in the second half when Steve Mafi, who had blown a chance after bursting through in the first half, broke a tackle, threw a sidestep and accelerated clear. This time he did not look back as he surged through to score.
The French champions held Exeter at arm’s length for the rest of the half. The English played the last nine minutes with 14 after Henry Slade tackled Vilallele, who had already kicked the ball.
The victory lifted Castres to second in Pool 2 behind Munster, who beat Gloucester 36-22.
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