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Edinburgh seal double over Castres with bonus-point win in France

By PA
Castres' Fijian centre Adrea Cocagi (C) is tackled by Edinburgh's Australian fly-half Charlie Savala (L) and Edinburgh's Scottish wing Blair Kinghorn (R) during the European Rugby Champions Cup pool A rugby union match between Castres Olympique and Edinburgh Rugby at the Pierre-Fabre stadium, in Castres, south-western France on January 15, 2023. (Photo by Valentine CHAPUIS / AFP) (Photo by VALENTINE CHAPUIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Edinburgh did the double over French side Castres with an impressive 34-21 win away from home to leave them on the verge of a place in the knockout stages of the Heineken Champions Cup.

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The Scottish side crossed for four tries through hooker Dave Cherry, number eight Bill Mata, centre Cameron Hutchison and replacement scrum-half Ben Vellacott for a bonus-point victory.

The boot of Blair Kinghorn landed four conversions and two penalties to seal a famous win as they impressively kept Castres scoreless in the second half on French soil.

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Mike Blair’s Edinburgh side had lost to Saracens in their Champions Cup opener but had beaten Castres 31-20 at home and are now almost certain to make the knockout stages.

Edinburgh came into this encounter having struggled to gain any momentum despite a narrow victory over bottom-of-the-table Zebre in the United Rugby Championship.

Castres were in a similar position and had not recorded a win in any competition since the start of December, when they beat Pau in French rugby’s Top 14.

But the game started with both sides playing with real attacking endeavour in contrast to the struggles they have endured in their respective domestic leagues.

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Edinburgh opened the scoring when Cherry crashed over after a driving lineout, converted by Kinghorn who was then yellow-carded for a professional foul on his own line.

The home side took full advantage when flanker Josaia Raisuqe latched onto a grubber kick to score the French side’s first try, converted by fly-half Benjamin Urdapilleta to make it 7-7.

Centre Adrien Seguret crossed from short range for Castres’ second try, which Urdapilleta converted to make it 14-7, but Edinburgh replied when Mata crossed for a try after a period of pressure. Kinghorn’s conversion made it all level again.

Castres then crossed for their third try with prop Wilfrid Hounkpatin powering over as Edinburgh struggled to deal with the French side’s forward power. Urdapilleta added the conversion.

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Edinburgh went in 21-14 behind at half-time with everything to play for after an entertaining first 40 minutes.

After the break, Edinburgh made the perfect start to the second half when Hutchison took advantage of some sloppy defence and crossed for the Scottish side’s third try. Kinghorn added the extras to level the scores.

Vellacott then weaved his way to cross for Edinburgh’s fourth try and Kinghorn converted to make it 28-21 midway through the second half.

Kinghorn then added a pair of penalties to extend his side’s lead to 13 point and ensure they would not be caught.

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