Newly-promoted La Rochelle recorded their first win of the Top 14 on Saturday with a thrilling 22-17 home victory over Castres.
Newly-promoted La Rochelle recorded their first win of the Top 14 on Saturday with a thrilling 22-17 home victory over Castres at Stade Marcel Deflandre.
The newcomers to the French top flight were out muscled by Castres but managed to outscore their more-fancied visitors three tries to two to get their campaign off to an encouraging start.
Castres dominated in term of possession and territory but were victims of their own numerous errors.
Castres centre Sermaia BaÃ¯ gave the visitors the lead after just two minutes with a penalty but it took just two more minutes for La Rochelle to score the first try when full-back Sebastien Boboul joined the line and finished in the corner.
The hosts extended their lead when scrum-half Benjamin Ferrou took a quick penalty and finished under the posts and Boboul added the conversion after 16 minutes.
Castres were camped in La Rochelle territory for most of the rest of the half but were unable to crack the home team's defence.
La Rochelle suffered in the set pieces and had Argentine replacement prop Franco Pani set to the bin for collapsing the scrum shortly before the break but still led 12-3 when the teams swapped ends.
Soon after the restart Castres number eight Iosefa Tekori powered his way over. BaÃ¯ converted but Boboul added a penalty to keep La Rochelle five points clear when Tekori was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle.
An inch-perfect kick-pass from La Rochelle fly-half RÃ©my Tales allowed Fijian wing Norman Ligiari to use his pace to sprint clear for les Maritimes third try.
La Rochelle finished the game with fourteen men as their another replacement prop Andres Bordoy was also yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle on Castres scrum-half Alexandre Albouy.
In the dying minutes, Chris Masoe and BaÃ¯ combined with fly-half Cameron McIntyre, who scored to set up a grandstand finish.
Castres came within metres of pulling off a comeback victory as McIntyre's kick ahead from his own 22 was chased down by Florian Denos, only for the full-back to be bundled into touch 5m short of scoring.
For La Rochelle:
Tries: Boboul, Ferrou, Ligiari
Cons: Boboul 3
Tries: Tekori, McIntyre
Con: BaÃ¯ 2
Yellow cards: Pani (La Rochelle – 39th min – collapsing scrum); Tekori (Castres – 49th min – dangerous tackle); Bordoy (La Rochelle – 74th min – dangerous tackle)
La Rochelle: 15 Sebastien Boboul, 14 Norman Ligiari, 13 Seru Rabeni, 12 Vincent Roux, 11 Thomas Combezou, 10 RÃ©my Tales, 9 Benjamin Ferrou, 8 Romain Carmignani, 7 Nicolas Djebaili, 6 Pierre Som, 5 Cobus Grobler, 4 David McGowan, 3 Stephane Clement, 2 Kevin Le Guen, 1 Tamato Leopolu.
Castres:15 Florian Denos, 14 Marc Andreu, 13 Romain Cabannes, 12 Sermaia BaÃ¯, 11 Romain Martial, 10 Cameron McIntyre, 9 Alexandre Albouy, 7 Chris Masoe, 8 Iosefa Tekori, 6 Yannick Caballero, 5 Scott Murray, 4 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Carl Hoeft.