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Toulouse leave it late
Castres denied their first victory in Toulouse in 34 years
Toulouse needed a late try to edge past Castres 23-22 in the opening fixture of the new Top 14 season at Stade Ernest-Wallon on Friday.
Trailing by four points going into the final ten minutes of the rematch of last season's semi-final, Toulouse were forced to dig deep but came up with the goods thanks to a try created by mammoth Tongan loose forward Edwin Maka and scored by fellow replacement Timoci Matanavou.
Castres were chasing their first victory in Toulouse in 34 years and looked poised to snatch an upset win when South African scrum-half Rory Kockott - who scored all the CO's points - touched down for an excellent solo try in the 55th minute.
But, in sweltering temperatures that necessitated water breaks, the visitors were unable to hold on as the defending French champions stepped it up a gear thanks to the strength of their bench.
The sides swapped ends at the end of a try-less first half with Toulouse leading 15-9.
Kockott put Castres ahead against the run of play though with 30m dart, escaping the attentions of Vincent Clerc and Clément Poitrenaud.
Toulouse weren't done yet though and Maka (the nephew of former Toulouse number eight Finau) showed his power by holding off three defenders before offloading to Fijian flyer Matanavou, who could dive over to maintain Toulouse's two-and-a-half year unbeaten run at home.
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Top 14 Table
|Friday 5th September|
|19:45||Montpellier vs Castres|
|Saturday 6th September|
|12:45||Brive vs Toulouse|
|15:00||Clermont Auvergne vs Racing Metro Paris|
|16:30||Stade Francais vs Bayonne|
|16:30||Grenoble vs La Rochelle|
|16:30||Lyon vs Oyonnax|
|19:45||Toulon vs Bordeaux-Begles|
|Saturday 13th September|
|16:00||Toulouse vs Clermont Auvergne|
|16:00||Oyonnax vs Grenoble|
|16:00||Bayonne vs Brive|
|16:00||Bordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier|
|16:00||Toulon vs Stade Francais|
|16:00||Racing Metro Paris vs Lyon|
|16:00||La Rochelle vs Castres|
|Saturday 20th September|
|15:00||Brive vs Toulon|
|15:00||Grenoble vs Bayonne|
|15:00||Clermont Auvergne vs Lyon|
|15:00||Montpellier vs Stade Francais|
|15:00||Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse|
|15:00||La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles|
|15:00||Castres vs Oyonnax|
|Saturday 27th September|
|16:00||Bayonne vs Toulouse|
|16:00||Brive vs Bordeaux-Begles|
|16:00||Oyonnax vs Clermont Auvergne|
|16:00||Lyon vs Castres|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com