Castres underlined their credentials as defending champions by crushing Stade FranÃ§ais 38-10 at Stade Pierre Antoine on Wednesday.
The hosts dominated the first half, but only lead by two points at the break. They came out with a new focus in the second spell though and cut the men from the capital to pieces, running in a total of six tries in what turned out to be a one-sided contest.
The maul was the main weapon for the home team in the early stages. The first try of the match came mid-way through the first half when Castres' hooker Marc Antoine Rallier scored after one such maul.
The second try came after a period of sustained attack by Castres and ended with Remi Lamerat crashing over. The score was 12-0 after 25 minutes and it looked as if there was only one team on the park.
Stade FranÃ§ais finally get their hands on the ball and earned a penalty with five minutes remaining in the half. Jerome Porical kicked the goal and narrowed the gap to 12-3.
Julien Tomas received a yellow card in the 40th minute and the visitors pounced with their only really dominant phase of play during the entire encounter. Number eight Scott Lavalla crashed over six minutes after the half-time hooker and miraculously Stade FranÃ§ais only trailed by two points at the break.
Rory Kockott was brought on early in the second spell and made a positive impact. He oozed with confidence, kicked well, and his snappy service from the base allowed his backs to run riot.
Pierre Rabadan saw yellow mid-way through the second-half and Castres immediately kicked for the corner in an attempt to take advantage of the extra man. They set the maul and over went replacement hooker Brice Mach, with the try that broke the visitors' spirit.
The flood-gates opened in the last 20 minutes with Lamerat, Grosso and Garvey all crossing the try-line to give Castre a well-deserved bonus point win.
State FranÃ§ais will have to show a great deal more courage and commitment if they are to get back to winning ways in their next encounter.
Tries Rallier, Lamerat 2, Mach, Grosso, Garvey
Cons: Palis, Kockott 3
For Stade FranÃ§ais:
Tries: Scott Lavalla
Cons: Jerome Porical
Pens: Jerome Porical
Castres: 15 Geoffrey Palis, 14 Marcel Garvey, 13 Paul Bonnefond, 12 Remi Lamerat, 11 Remy Grosso, 10 Remi Tales, 1 Michael Coetzee, 9 Julien Tomas, 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Ibrahim Diarra, 6 Jan de bruin Bornman, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 4 Christophe Samson, 3 Mihaita Lazar, 2 Marc Antoine Rallier.
Replacement: 16 Brice Mach, 17 Yannick Forestier, 18 Benjamin Desroche, 19 Pedrie Wannenburg, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 22 Brice Dulin, 23 Karena Wihongi,
Stade FranÃ§ais: 15 Jerome Porical, 14 Richard Kingi, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Martin Rodriguez, 11 Djibril Camara, 10 Meyer Bosman, 9 Julien Dupuy, 8 Scott Lavalla, 7 Nicolas Garrault, 6 Olivier Missoup, 5 Gerhard Mostert, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 David Attoub, 2 Remi Bonfils, 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Replacement: 16 Michael van Vuuren, 17 Romain Frou, 18 Pascal Pape, 19 Pierre Rabadan, 20 Jerome Fillol, 21 Peter Lydon, 22 Hugo Bonneval, 23 Davit Kubriashvili.
Referee: SÃ©bastien Minery