Castres 19 Northampton Saints 13: Rory Kockott calls the tune as Northampton pay the penalty

 

stade pierre-antoine

It went down to the wire with Castres hanging on and their scrum-half Rory Kockott booting the ball out of play just a couple of seconds after the clock ticked over 80 minutes, but Northampton could only blame themselves for failing to exert the necessary control.

They have played the small-town team of Castres seven times in the Heineken Cup but have only won once away from home. "It was always going to be a bit of a scrap," said Jim Mallinder, the Northampton head coach.

"We had our chances and at least we came away with a losing bonus point but what they did very well was slow us down. I would have been disappointed if we had come away with nothing."

On at least three occasions Northampton chose to kick for touch and the throw-in instead of kicking penalties but Mallinder added: “ We’ll have another look at that but I’ll back my captain Dylan Hartley to make the right decision.” It was Hartley who pounced on a loose ball close to the Castres line for the Northampton try, converted by Steven Myler.

The penalties, in a way, decided it as Kockott banged over four to Stephen Myler's two, and all of them gave rise to criticism. But, then, the Castres crowd does not like the decisions of overseas referees which go against them and, as if to prove that there was equal angst, the outraged cries of the Northampton staff were equally vociferous throughout the afternoon.

Anyone who thought this would be just another steaming dish of bump and grind had to abandon that pre-conception almost from the moment George Clancy blew for the start.

Castres went off at a cracking pace and seemed confident that their big pack could match anything Northampton could throw at them when opting for a scrum at a free-kick and immediately scampering all over the field.

But it was the Midlanders who were edging ahead in the possession statistics and winning a line-out battle previewed extensively in the French media. Courtney Lawes consistently sneaked more line-out ball than Richie Gray. But Gray more than made up for that in the loose. “The focus for us was on our defence and I take confidence from how we performed in that area,” he said. Full-back Geoffrey Palis was outstanding under any and every aerial contest.

"The focus for us was on our defence and I take confidence from how we performed in that area," the Scottish lock said, adding that moving to French rugby had been relatively easy. "This is a close-knit team which makes you feel very welcome."

The first half turned in the ninth minute when Northampton were attacking only for a pass by Luther Burrell to be intercepted by Romain Martial. The 100-yard dash by the winger was cheered every metre of the way and Kockott landed the easy conversion.

The South African scrum-half, who is now eligible to play for France, had a much more difficult task in the 38th minute with a kick from the half-way line. It sailed through in the mild conditions to give the home side a 10-3 lead at half- time, and amply demonstrated why Castres want him to stay and why he is one of a seemingly endless stream of talent said to be in talks with Toulon.

Northampton's three points came from the boot of Myler, banked when they were again attacking despite Ben Foden being in the sin-bin for a deliberate infringement when Castres were threatening the Northampton line. It could have been made even easier for Myler as Piula Faasalele gave Clancy some extended advice.

This was the seventh Heineken encounter between these two with the tally standing at four wins to three in favour of Northampton, just one of those away from home.

Castres surprised not a few by beating Toulon for the French crown at the end of last season and their current 11th place has to be seen in the context of a very tight points difference. Being beaten 34-0 by Brive going into their European season led to a near lockdown in this week's build-up. Next weekend's trip to Leinster will be tough. Northampton's home reception for the Ospreys will be teak hard.

Castres G Palis; R Martial, R Cabannes, R Lamerat, M Evans; R Talês (capt), R Kockott; M Lazar, B Mach (M-A Rallier, 70), A Peikrishvili (Wihongi, 52), R. Gray, R Capo Ortega, JdB Bornman, P Faasalele (P Wannenburg,70), A Claasen.

Northampton B Foden; K Pisi (J Elliott, 65), G Pisi, L Burrell, G. North (J Wilson, 69); S Myler, K Fotualii (L Dickson, 59); A Corbisiero (A Waller, 67), D Hartley (Capt), S Ma'Afu (T Mercey, 59), C Lawes, C Day (P Dowson, 65), T Wood, C Clark, S Dickinson (S Manoa, 59).

Referee G Clancy (Ireland).

Castres

Try: Martial

Con: Kockott

Pens: Kockott (4)

Northampton

Try: Hartley

Con: Myler

Pens: Myler (2)

 

Suggested Topics
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments