Castres employ Martial arts to knock out Saints

Castres 41 Northampton Saints 22

Stade Pierre-Antoine

Northampton's attempt to repeat their European feats of last season, when they reached the final and came close to beating Leinster at the Millennium Stadium, stuttered alarmingly in the first two rounds of the Heineken Cup. Yesterday, it was brutally extinguished in France.

This Saints performance featured extravagant ambition, incredible immaturity and rank indiscipline, which saw them play for 20 minutes (in two 10-minute spells) with 14 men. Their director of rugby, Jim Mallinder, will take some solace from the considerable enterprise that his side showed against a Castres team who had not won a game for nearly two months, but he will know that Northampton probably committed more errors in this game than in the whole of last season.

"This was always going to be a big challenge and it is always going to be hard to defend for 20 minutes with 14 men," said Mallinder, who has been linked with the England head coach's job since the World Cup. "It was too much for us, but I was happy with our attacking play. We obviously have work to do on our set piece and particularly our re-starts, which were a problem for us all game."

This was a performance that summed up Northampton's season so far. As such, the defeat may well be the defining moment for the club.

In earlier rounds of Heineken games this season, Saints, like Castres, had lost to Munster thanks to a last-second drop-goal from Ronan O'Gara. But it was the English club's surprise defeat by the Scarlets at Franklin's Gardens that set alarm bells ringing. Their trip to France therefore presented a chance for redemption and an opportunityto put their European campaign back on track.

Castres lived up to the stereotype of a French club – having been woeful on the road, they were almost irresistible in their own back yard. Their pace and power, combined with no little skill, proved too much.

Saints came off second best in the physical battle and, though their attacking flair and pace kept them in the game, they could not have made a worse start. Castres scored their first try in four games after three minutes as the impressive open side flanker Steve Malonga finished off a sweeping attacking move. Northampton replied with a forward surge and the lock Mark Sorenson burrowed over. The fly-half, Stephen Myler, converted to level the scores. Castres' full-back, Romain Teulet, put his side back ahead with two penalties, before the Aviva Premiership side rallied with a try by the wing Jamie Elliott.

Myler then found himself on the wrong side of the referee when he was sent to the sin-bin for a second high-tackle, just before half-time. Saints, down to 14 men, conceded a second try almost immediately, after a delightful chip by Castres' former All Black No 8, Chris Masoe, put the wing Romain Martial in at the corner. That made it 23-12 to Castres at half-time.

It was the Saints who scored next. Elliott's second try saw the teenager run in from inside his own half, after he intercepted Martial's pass. Teulet kicked another penalty before Saints' American No 8, Samu Manoa reduced the gap to four when he scored his side's fourth try. That secured a bonus point, midway through the second half.

But a yellow card for the flanker Tom Wood, given for an offence at a maul, proved costly. Saints could not cope and Martial and the flanker Ibrahim Diarra took full advantage, crossing for tries to record a bonus point and an emphatic victory.

Mallinder said: "When you have two yellow cards you have to ask why. I don't want to question the referees but we have had the same problem against Munster and we have to look at why. The yellow card for Steve Myler and a high tackle was a close one but we just aren't getting those decisions at the moment. We are out of the competition and that is hard and we are playing for pride now."

Castres: R Teulet; R Martial, T Sanchou (P Bonnefound, 75), S Bai, M Evans; R Tales (P Bernard, 27), R Kockott (T Lacrampe, 71); M Coetzee (A Peikrishvili, 59), M Rallier (M Bonelli, 57), L Ducalcon (R Kruger, 78), S Murray, R Capo-Ortega (M Rolland, 67) I Diarra, S Malonga, C Masoe.

Northampton Saints: B Foden; V Artemyev, G Pisi, T May (J Clarke, 67), J Elliott; S Myler (R Lamb, 57), L Dickson (M Roberts, 67); S Tonga'uiha (A Waller, 61), D Hartley (capt; M Haywood, 67), P Doran Jones (T Mercey, 72), C Lawes (J Craig, 69), M Sorenson, T Wood (J Ingle, 79), B Nutley, S Manoa.

Referee: J Lacey (Ireland).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own