Wasps edge Castres

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Published: Sunday 7th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Two-time Heineken Cup champions Wasps kept alive their hopes of qualifying for the knockout phase of the European Champions Cup as they beat Top 14 basement side Castres Olympique 32-17.

The sides, occupying Pool Two’s bottom two slots coming into the game, shared four touchdowns in the first half. Rob Miller and Nathan Hughes crossed for Wasps, while Mathieu Bonello and Remi Lamerat dotted down for the hosts in reply.

After the break it was a tense affair, but the Aviva Premiership pulled away in the final 10 minutes with a penalty try and a Sailosi Tagicakibau touch down after Sitiveni Sivivatu was sent to the sin bin.

The win leaves Wasps in third place in Pool 2, but they will now be within striking of distance of whoever loses when Harlequins and Leinster to head-to-head.

Wasps’ full back Miller opened the scoring after five minutes, finishing off a move started when fly-half Andy Goode intercepted an ill-judged pass.

Six minutes later, Castres answered back. Hooker Bonello barged his way over, following a break from the club’s summer marquee signing Sivivatu.

Two minutes later, Wasps’ number eight Hughes brushed aside the last despairing line of Castres’ overstretched defence to dive over.

Castres’ Rory Kockott’s penalty from near halfway hit the crossbar in the 17th minute, and his radar was off again five minutes later, as he fired a second effort wide of the uprights.

Goode, however, made no mistake with a penalty to take the score to 15-7 with 14 minutes of the opening period remaining.

But still the first-half scoring was not over. Castres’ centre Lamerat thumped the ball down following a catch-and-drive after 33 minutes. Kockott converted to make it 15-14 at the interval.

The second period started slowly by comparison. It took 10 minutes for either side to cross the line – and when the hosts did Thomas Combezou’s break for the line was ruled out for offside.

Three minutes later Kockott had the chance to fire Castres into the lead for the first time – but he mishit his kick and it fell a long way short of the posts.

In the early part of the second period, neither side could find a way through shored-up defences, as the game turned into a middle-of-the-field battle – though it was Castres who looked the most dangerous and who were enjoying the lion’s share of the possession.

With another Castres’ attack going nowhere, Dan Kirkpatrick was forced into a drop goal attempt but his effort slipped wide.

Full back Julien Dumora took over kicking duties for the hosts when Cedric Garcia replaced Kockott in the 64th minute. His first job – three minutes later – was to fire Castres into the lead for the first time from the touchline. He made no mistake.

But their lead would last just two minutes. Goode supplied the perfect Wasps’ riposte with a penalty just two minutes later, after Castres were penalised at the breakdown.

Wasps thought Tom Varndell had finished off a simple yet effective move in the corner with 10 minutes left on the clock, but video replays showed Sivivatu had, somehow, at the last, held up the ball.

But the Fijian was then sent to the sin bin for a high tackle – and referee George Clancy awarded a penalty try.

There was still time for Tagicakibau to barge his way over for Wasps’ fourth try six minutes from time to seal the match.

Published: Sunday 7th December 2014 by The News Editor

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