Planet Rugby

Edinburgh cling to fine four

18th October 2008 19:14

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Edinburgh survived a late onslaught to claim a morale-boosting 13-6 Heineken Cup victory over Castres at Stade Pierre Antoine on Saturday.

The travelling side were twice the error-strewn side that were defeated by Pool leaders Leinster last weekend as they dominated for large periods by playing a brand of attacking brilliance mixed with courageous defence.

However, with all of their opportunities they will be disappointed with the nervy score-line as Castres almost snatched the four points late on with plenty of gutsy tackles saving the result.

Despite an imposing opening from the French hosts when fly-half Cameron McIntyre slotted two penalty goals, it was the visitors who struck the first hammer blow as quick thinking from Mike Blair saw him tap and offload to wing Mark Robertson.

The IRB World Player nominee's performance demonstrated just why he got a spot on the coveted shortlist as that break led to 23-year-old Robertson streaking infield at pace to bounce the final defender and cross from 35 metres out.

Coach Andy Robinson was clear with his intentions pre-game as he demanded a smart and strong performance early on. But Castres had star men of their own to counteract that hope as flank and new signing Steve Malonga dominated the loose with some imposing runs to excite the home fans.

However, despite glimmers of French flair, the Scots kept to their game-plan and opportunities subsequently came to fruition on a whole host of occasions. One such moment occurred before the conclusion of the first quarter as international Chris Paterson lost the ball seemingly unopposed over the whitewash.

And from then on in the first period, Edinburgh were quiet clear the only team in the game as superb running lines and intelligent rugby starved Castres of any possession whatsoever.

But the nagging feeling in the back of the Scottish minds was surely the fact that despite all their pressure, they went into half-time only a solitary point ahead at 7-6.

There was some reward for their efforts immediately after the break though, as Paterson sent over a long-range penalty goal with McIntrye missing down the other end in response.

Edinburgh continued their dominance as the game wore on with deep lines cutting the defence to ribbons in a subdued atmosphere - an air that was not helped by handling and set-piece errors from the home side.

However, with the contest remaining still very much on a knife edge, one sensed a slight shift in momentum as the French began to enjoy some rare territory on the hour - replacements Romain Teulet and Iosefa Tekori significantly aiding their comeback cause.

But the Scots held on to take home a well-earned victory that puts them level on points with second place London Wasps in Pool Two.

The scorers:

For Castres:

Pen: McIntyre 2

For Edinburgh:

Tries: Robertson

Con: Paterson

Pen: Paterson

Castres: 15 Thomas Bouquié, 14 Lionel Mazars, 13 Steve Kefu, 12 Philip Christophers, 11 Rafael Carballo, 10 Cameron McIntyre, 9 Kevin Senio, 8 Florian Faure, 7 Darron Nell, 6 Steve Malonga, 5 Lionel Nallet (c), 4 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Romain Terrain, 1 Carl Hoeft,

Replacements: 16 Akvsenti Giorgadze, 17 Yannick Forestier, 18 Iosefa Tekori, 19 Leiataua Tomiki, 20 Sébastien Tillous Borde, 21 Romain Teulet, 22 Anthony Lagardere.

Edinburgh: 15 Chris Paterson, 14 Mark Robertson, 13 Ben Cairns, 12 Nick De Luca, 11 Simon Webster, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Mike Blair (c), 8 Allister Hogg, 7 Alan MacDonald, 6 Scott Newlands, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Craig Hamilton, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobsen.

Replacements: 16 Andrew Kelly, 17 Gavin Kerr, 18 Ben Gissing, 19 Simon Cross, 20 Greig Laidlaw, 21 David Blair, 22 John Houston.

Referee: Andrew Small (England)

Touch judges: Dave Pearson (England), Alan Hughes (England)

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