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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.