Champions Cup round-up: Castres bounce back on home soil
Castres go second in Leinster’s pool after their defeat in Dublin last weekend
Castres’ fullback Geoffrey Palis passes the ball during the European Champions Cup rugby union match between Castres and Northampton. Photo: Getty Images
Castres recovered from their defeat at the hands of Leinster last weekend to run in five tries in a 41-7 demolition of old European rivals Northampton courtesy of a dominant forward performance that saw the visitors’ pack shoved all over the park.
Winger David Smith was the main beneficiary of the hosts’ total control up front in the ninth European meeting between the two sides.
He touched down twice — the first a saunter under the posts after captain Alex Tulou’s powerful run punched a hole in the Saints’ defence after 31 minutes, while his second came four minutes into the second period when he danced past two defenders to score in the corner following a smart offload from Thomas Combezou.
Smith should have notched his hat-trick little more than a minute later, but he was unable to hold on to a sleight-of-hand pass from Tulou with his route to the line clear,
Smith’s brace sandwiched a try for loosehead prop Antoine Tichit, who was shoved over the line by his forward colleagues. Benjamin Urdapilleta converted both — the last with a little help from the upright.
In Pool 5, Bordeaux were beaten 49-33 by Clermont despite scoring four tries of their own.
Bordeaux made a strong start as Jean-Marcel Buttin and Jayden Spence crossed for tries, with Ian Madigan kicking the extra points on each occasion. However, the boot of Morgan Parra limited the damage for the Top 14 leaders as he was successful with three penalties.
Clermont then flexed their muscles with Noa Nakaitaci scoring before half-time, and Parra again adding the extras, to give the hosts the lead before Alexander Lapandry and Wesley Fofana ran in tries and Sebastien Vahaamahina bagged the bonus point.
But Bordeaux claimed a bonus of their own as Buttin posted his second try of the match before setting up Met Talebula, while Gauthier Doubrere scored a late consolation.
Clermont remained top of Pool Five with 10 points after round two and Bordeaux stayed behind them in second spot, for now, with Ulster and Exeter still to play.
Saracens’ impressive start to the defence of their European title continued with a 44-26 victory over the Scarlets, but there were potentially alarming repercussions for England and Wales.
Maro Itoje was replaced in the 46th minute of a one-sided Champions Cup clash at Allianz Park after rolling awkwardly on to his arm while making a tackle, leaving the 21-year-old lock in discomfort.
The night was every bit as worrying for Wales after full-back Liam Williams limped off early in the first half before being joined in the treatment room by international team-mate Jake Ball, who was grimacing as he clutched his ribs.
Williams has been earmarked for the number 15 jersey against Australia on November 5th, while the in-form Ball has been pushing hard for a place in the starting XV.
To add to Welsh woes, Scarlets centre Scott Williams had been ruled out of the trip to London during the build-up because of an ankle problem. Both clubs’ medical teams were kept busy as injured players littered Allianz Park, particularly in the second half, and perhaps an omen of the carnage to come came in the warm-up when Saracens lost skipper Brad Barritt to a stiff neck.
But Barritt’s ailment did not prevent the double winners from completing a bonus-point victory that left the outclassed Scarlets in their slipstream throughout.