Castres 39-0 Leicester: Young Tigers no match for Castres in Champions Cup
Last Updated: 14/01/18 8:19pm
Leicester were humbled 39-0 by Top 14 side Castres as a much-changed team failed to make an impression at the Stade Pierre Fabre.
Almost exactly a year after losing 43-0 to Glasgow at Welford Road, Leicester again suffered the humiliation of failing to put a point on the scoreboard in the European Champions Cup.
Both sides' chances of reaching the quarter-finals had effectively disappeared shortly before kick-off, as Pool Four rivals Racing 92 beat Munster in Paris.
But the hosts came into the game defending a five-match unbeaten run at home in Europe, and were determined to prove that October's 54-29 mauling in the reverse fixture was an aberration.
Leicester brought a much-changed side from the one that beat London Irish 19-15 in the Premiership eight days previously. Castres, too, featured numerous changes.
Indiscipline proved costly for Leicester all night. Castres' Benjamin Urdapilleta made the most of some clumsy defence to show off his Argentinian football skills and score the opening try after just 50 seconds.
The visitors huffed and puffed but could not break an organised and determined Castres defence - and, after 14 minutes, conceded a penalty that Urdapilleta converted to make the score 10-0. A second infringement four minutes later allowed the hosts to extend their lead.
The evening got worse for Leicester within five minutes. More sloppy work under an Urdapilleta kick allowed winger Armand Batlle to break clear. He was hunted down, but offloaded to centre Thomas Combezou, who scored under the posts.
As the opening period drew to a close, Leicester hammered at and over the Castres line, but were unable to convert phase after phase of concerted pressure into points - even after Batlle was sin-binned for lying on the ball.
Having withstood that battering, 14-man Castres made the most of one final chance before the half was out. Combezou plucked the ball out of team-mate Alex Tulou's hands in front of the posts and darted over.
A penalty early in the second period gave Leicester a chance to force their way back into the game - but they again could not find a way through the Castres wall. A penalty allowed the hosts to ease the pressure, before another gave them a lineout five metres from the Tigers' line. A few frenetic and untidy phases later, Batlle, freshly returned from his yellow card, dived over in the corner for the bonus-point score.
The game became increasingly scrappy as Leicester upped the tempo in search of points. They thought they had broken their duck just before the hour, when Adam Thompstone dived over in the corner - but even muted celebrations were cut short when the referee ruled out the score for a forward pass.
The visitors dominated the closing period but, for all their endeavour and industry, they could not breach the hosts' defence. And Castres even had time to rub salt into Tigers' wounds, as Batlle raced over for his second try, the hosts' fifth, with less than three minutes left on the clock.