Top 14 - Game of the Week
Perpignan hand Castres rare defeat
April 3, 2010
A second half drop from Perpignan Gavin Hume proved to be the match-winning score
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Perpignan handed Castres their first home league defeat of the season with a 17-11 victory in their Top 14 clash at Stade Pierre Antoine.
The Catalans entered the game level on points with their opponents at the top of the table but drew on their wealth of big game experience to claim the outright lead and complete a league double over their title rivals following their 17-15 victory at Stade Aime Giral earlier this season. The victory keeps them on course for a home semi-final in this season's play-offs while defeat and only a losing bonus point for Castres allowed Toulon to leap-frog them into second place after their thumping victory over Bayonne.
A try from winger Farid Sid, converted by fullback Jerome Porical, gave the visitors an early advantage but Castres struck back with a penalty from the boot of fullback Romain Teulet. And a try from winger Mathieu Nicolas gave the hosts the lead midway through the half.
Perpignan's hopes were then dealt a blow with a yellow card for flanker Ovidiu Tonita but they weathered the blow and a try from No.8 Henry Tuilagi on the half hour put them back in control and the conversion from Porical cemented their lead.
Teulet reduced the arrears after the break with his second penalty but that was as close as they got with fly-half Gavin Hume sealing the win for Perpignan with a drop goal on the hour mark.
With both sides assured of their place in the post-season, Perpignan travel to Toulon in a fotnight's time for their penultimate regular season fixture with Castres facing a trip to fourth-placed Clermont Auvergne and as a result the race for the top two places - and the accompanying first round bye into the play-off semi-finals - is set to go down to the wire.
"This is an excellent result," reflected Perpignan boss Jacques Brunel. "There was a lot of intensity and it was a very tough fight but what we have done in this game bodes well for the final rounds. The door to the semi-finals is open but it must be pushed a little more but we face another tough battle against Toulon at the Velodrome."
Castres coach Laurent Labit commented, "We are proud of our players despite the defeat. It was a very intense game and the players showed great commitment and this match should serve us well as preparation for the play-offs."