WORCESTER Warriors were left to reflect on what might have been after they returned home empty-handed from a first visit to Castres’ Stade Pierre-Fabre in the European Challenge Cup.

Warriors had prepared well for the challenge of taking on Castres’ huge pack in a stadium few sides enjoy visiting.

Worcester opted for a clever tactical kicking game which they almost won only to be undone by indiscipline at the breakdown, a missed tackle which allowed Castres to set up Baptiste Delaporte for their second try and the suspicion of a forward pass in the build-up to wing Filipo Nakosi’s opening try.

Rookie Irish referee Sean Gallagher consulted TMO Leo Colgan to check that Nakosi had not brushed the touchline as he was tackled by Perry Humphreys and Cornell du Preez but he did not check the pass that gave the hefty wing space.

“I thought the minimum we deserved was a bonus point out of that game. I certainly thought there was a definite question mark about a forward pass leading up to their (first) try,” said Warriors director of rugby Alan Solomons.

“That would have made a massive difference. Forget the result, it would have changed the complexion of the game.

“The margins are fine at this level. The penalties that we gave away, particularly at the breakdown, gave them field position and their two tries both came from the field position they secured subsequent to penalties.

“We missed a first-up tackle for the second try. You slip a tackle and it costs you dearly.”

Three penalties from fly-half Duncan Weir kept Warriors in the hunt for a win – or a losing bonus point at least – until Castres fly-half Benjamin Urdapilleta kicked a penalty seven minutes from time.

That kick came after Ryan Mills, who made his 100th appearance for Warriors, had given Worcester a sniff of a try-scoring chance with a clever grubber kick but Castres snaffled the ball, launched a counter-attack and won a penalty at the breakdown.

Despite the disappointment of missing out on a third consecutive away win, Solomons praised the patience of his players whose long kicking game kept Castres’ heavy pack in retreat for most of the match.

“We had to be patient with the kicking game. We showed really good patience in that first half and probably throughout the game,” Solomons said.

“There was no lack of effort. All the players, Millsy in particular, put in a huge shift. Castres are a good side and I would certainly predict that they will be in the top six of the Top 14.

“Rory Kockott, their scrum-half, said to me before the game that having Joe Worsley as their defence coach has made a huge difference.

"He has been with them for five weeks and he has improved their defence no end and they have got clarity with the way they play.

"They are a side that will finish in the top half of the log. I will be surprised if they lose a game at home.”