23 May 13
Harlequins confirmed today (23rd May) that Chris Brooker is leaving the club to join Worcester Warriors.
"We have learnt a lot, both individually and collectively tonight and we were delighted with the commitment and skill shown so early in the season."
Castres had a 17-3 half time lead thanks to scores from Marc Andreu, Karena Wihongi and seven points from Rory Kockett's boot. However, the Londoners responded well with tries from replacements Ollie Lindsay-Hague and Pete Browne.
Harlequins began strongly, absorbing the early pressure. However as the pressure built, Quins' ill-discipline allowed Kockett to put his side into a 3-0 lead.
The visitors responded well to the early score and were able to capitalise. Karl Dickson gained valuable territory through quick tap penalties. As the midway point of the first half approached and with a penalty in range of Evans' boot, the Kiwi drew the scores level.
An error from the restart allowed Castres to score their first try. Despite holding off the early phases off attack, a neat grubber kick behind the defence allowed Andreu in for the score. With the conversion, Castres lead 10-3.
More promising rugby from the visitors followed in the second quarter of the game, but it was the home side who had the final say of the half with a try from Wihongi. From a five metre lineout a strong maul was set up, from close range, Harlequins were unable to halt it. Kockett added the extras and brought to an end a very promising first half for Harlequins.
A number of changes were made at half time and these would prove critical for the second half. Ben Botica, who started in the centre moved to fly-half which allowed Charlie Walker to move to the centres. Elsewhere, Lindsay-Hague replaced Tom Williams, and Seb Stegmann replaced Sam Smith, while Browne replaced Olly Kohn.
Harlequins began the second half in the best way with a try from Lindsay-Hague. A magnificent turnover from the forwards allowed the ball to find the speedster and after fooling the dogged defence the full-back dived over. Botica added the conversion, reducing the gap to seven points.
The visitors were again made to pay after an error from the restart. Quick turnover ball for the French side allowed them to enjoy possession in the Quins half, again a neat grubber kick slipped the defence for Andreuto score his second of the evening. The extras were added for a 24-10 lead.
As the game then approached the final quarter, Harlequins finished strongly with strong attacking play from Matt Hopper, Botica and Ross Chisholm. Despite some early season errors, the visitors were putting the home side under significant pressure and were incredibly unlucky, with 12 minutes left, to concede a third try.
A sweeping move from the French side allowed Romain Martial to score in the corner and with the conversion from Romain , this concluded the French side's scoring.
In the final moments, the game became fractious and when Castres were reduced to 14 men due to descent, Harlequins finished the evening off in style. It was the earlier replacements, who had made a great impact on the game, that began this expansive play.
With the ball passing through numerous hands, gaps were created in the tiring Castres defence. The ball eventually found Browne who dived over in the corner for the score. Botica's attempt hit the post and the game ended 31-15.