Castres held on to claim a priceless 22-20 victory over Bordeaux-Bègles at Stade Pierre Antoine on Saturday to keep their Top 14 survival hopes alive.
The tension was palpable in this game for different reasons as Castres knew they simply had to win to give themselves the best possible chance of staying in the top flight while Bordeaux were hoping to remain in touch with the top six.
But it was the hosts who triumphed in a nail-biter as they held on for a much-needed victory that takes them crucially above Bayonne on wins claimed.
Bordeaux-Bègles had taken an early 0-10 lead after 17 minutes thanks to a Pierre Bernard penalty and his conversion to Julien Rey's score. That try was a howler from the hosts as a kick through wasn't dealt with and the visiting centre pounced on the loose ball to ground first.
Credit to Castres through who sparked into life immediately after, with their devastating wings Sitiveni Sivivatu and Rémy Grosso slicing through the defence at will. It seemed a simple game-plan of getting the ball into their hands would be a good place to start for Castres.
And it was in fact Grosso who broke the deadlock for the hosts on 30 minutes when he cut through a hole from 35 metres out, with Geoffrey Palis adding the extras before landing three more points seven minutes later. The momentum was now well-and-truly with the relegation threatened side.
Things could have got even better for them just before the break when Bordeaux-Bègles lock Berend Botha's illegal shoulder charge off-the-ball only saw him shown yellow by upcoming World Cup referee Pascal Gauzère. Replays showed the South African could well have received red.
One consolation for Castres was that Palis landed the resulting penalty to push his team into the lead for the first time in the contest.
Castres extended that advantage on 50 minutes when after sustained pressure in the Bordeaux, eventually they pointed to the posts for 16-10.
The majority of the second-half was very much a cagey affair as Castres' desperation to avoid defeat and Bordeaux looking to end a three-game losing streak resulted in a kicking battle, with Bordeaux replacement Baptiste Serin sending over a penalty at the second time of asking to make it 16-13.
But with three minutes to play, it seemed Castres had sealed the win and denied Bordeaux-Bègles a bonus-point when Julien Dumora sent over two penalties. However, back came Bordeaux with Blair Connor's converted try to set up a grandstand finish. Fortunately for Castres, they held on and move up to twelfth in the standings.
Pen: Palis 3, Dumora 2
Tries: Rey, Connor
Con: Bernard, Serin
Pen: Bernard, Serin
Castres: 15 Geoffrey Palis, 14 Rémy Grosso, 13 Romain Cabannes, 12 Rémi Lamerat, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Rémi Talès, 9 Cédric Garcia, 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Yannick Caballero, 6 Jannie Bornman, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega (c), 4 Christophe Samson, 3 Karena Wihongi, 2 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 1 Yannick Forestier.
Replacements: 16 Brice Mach, 17 Mihaita Lazar, 18 Benjamin Desroche, 19 Ibrahim Diarra, 20 Antoine Dupont, 21 Max Evans, 22 Julien Dumora, 23 Ramiro Herrera.
Bordeaux-Bègles: 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Metuisela Talebula, 13 Jayden Spence, 12 Julien Rey, 11 Blair Connor, 10 Pierre Bernard, 9 Heini Adams, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Hugh Chalmers, 6 Louis-Benoit Madaule (c), 5 Berend Botha, 4 Jandre Marais, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Ole Avei, 1 Jean-Baptiste Poux.
Replacements: 16 Clément Maynadier, 17 Jefferson Poirot, 18 Julien Le Devedec, 19 Marco Tauleigne, 20 Yann Lesgourgues, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Sofiane Guitoune, 23 Beñat Auzqui.
Referee: Pascal Gauzère