The return of Jack Nowell from a hamstring injury after two months didn’t take long to have an impact, with the England international slicing Castres to bits inside the first five minutes.

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Nowell, playing at fullback, took a sniping run from the ruck base, breaking the line by running around some tight five forwards before swerving through no less than three Castres defenders with some sharp line running.

He picked up man-of-the-match honours for his performance, finishing with 139 running metres on 13 carries, with one try and eight defenders beaten.

Exeter delivered their most complete performance on the European stage this year, downing Castres 34-12 with impressive performances from Nowell and Henry Slade, while Joe Simmonds offered youthful exuberance playing flyhalf and scored his first try of the season after a miraculous offload from inside centre Ollie Devoto.

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Exeter’s backs that clicked into gear with Nowell’s return, proving too much for a 14-man Castres side after reserve prop Tudor Stroe was red-carded midway through the second-half. Although Exeter had a comfortable lead and control of the match at that point.

The win kept Exeter’s slim qualification hopes alive to set up a do-or-die clash against in-form Munster at Thomond Park next week. Exeter will have to deny Munster a bonus point or win with a maximum five points to prevent them from winning the Pool.

In other results, Saracens beat Lyon to take complete control of Pool 3, and while Glasgow beat Cardiff, their fate will hinge on other results next week to qualify as a ‘next best’ seed.

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Rugby World Cup city guide – Oita:

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