Edinburgh hopes fade as sin-bin proves vital
Castres 21 Edinburgh 16
Edinburgh's hopes of progressing to the knock-out stage appear all but over after they slipped to a narrow defeat at Castres Olympique.
Simon Webster stepped off the replacements' bench to score a late try that set up a nerve-wracking climax at Stade Pierre Antoine. But the Scots could not muster the final score that would have clinched a famous win in France.
Instead it was two tries in the space of five minutes from the French hosts in the second half, while Edinburgh were reduced to 14 men, which proved decisive. Vincent Inigo and Steve Malonga both crossed for tries while Edinburgh lock Fraser McKenzie was in the sin bin for a professional foul.
Edinburgh have now claimed a losing bonus point from all three of their games in Pool 1.
Castres threatened to break loose in the early exchanges and Edinburgh's back row felt the pressure, Ross Rennie conceding the first penalty following Romain Cabannes' strong run through midfield, before Roddy Grant gave away a second. Romain Teulet kicked both for an early 6-0 lead before Chris Paterson responded after 17 minutes.
Teulet added a third penalty, then Edinburgh clawed their way back into contention through a second penalty from Paterson and a long-range effort from Greig Laidlaw.
McKenzie was shown a yellow card after 57 minutes for his professional foul at a ruck as Castres surged forward through former All Black Chris Masoe. Fellow back-row forward Joe Tekori broke from the tail of the resulting scrum, drawing in Grant and Lee Jones before handing wing Inigo an easy finish.
Soon after Masoe again stormed upfield before Inigo and Tekori combined for Malonga to touch down behind the posts. Edinburgh hit back with eight minutes remaining through replacement Webster after Rennie broke clear.
Paterson converted but Edinburgh once again fell agonisingly short.
Scorers -- Castres: Inigo, Malonga, tries; Teulet 3 pens, Bernard con. Edinburgh: Webster try; Paterson 2 pens, con; Laidlaw pen.
Castres: R Teulet (P Bernard 40); V Inigo, R Cabannes, P Tatupu, J Andreu; C McIntyre (F Denos 65), A Albouy (T Sanchou 57); C Hoeft (M Coetzee 57), B Kayser (M Bonello 57), L Ducalcon (D Saayman 65), S Murray (R Capo 51), K Kulemin, S Malonga (I Diarra 79), C Masoe, J Tekori.
Edinburgh: C Paterson; J Thompson, B Cairns, J Houston; L Jones, D Blair (S Webster 57); G Laidlaw, A Jacobsen, R Ford, G Cross (D Young 66), F McKenzie, S Turnbull (E Lozada 66), S Newlands, R Grant, R Rennie.
Referee: JP Doyle (England).