Castres (13) 40
Tries: Roque, Forment (2), Spanghero, Arbo. Cons: Teulet (3). Pens: Teulet (3).
Caerphilly (7) 12
Tries: Boobyer, El-Abd. Cons: Thomas
Caerphilly's attempt to win Wales' first European silverware was ended by a classy performance by French outfit Castres in the Parker Pen Shield final.
The Cheesemen battled valiantly but were outscored by five tries to two at the Madejski Stadium as they went down 40-12.
Caerphilly were forced to weather an early storm as the French side set out their stall early looking to run at the Cheesemen's defence.
But they stood strong and refused to give any ground to the attack-minded Castres.
Indeed, taking a leaf out of the French side's book, Caerphilly scored the first try.
Centre Roddy Boobyer found a gap and powered into midfield showing the sort of flair the crowd expected to see from the French side.
Brushing aside four defenders, he sprinted into the Castres 22, produced a side-step and half-dummy to score a fine individual try.
Castres were ruffled by the Cheesmen's score but stayed in touch with two penalties from outside half Teulet.
Arbo runs past two Caerphilly players
The Castres pressure, however, finally paid off just after the half hour mark.
After a long spell in possession they won a line-out and set up a strong forwards platform.
Caerphilly expected a forwards drive, but Castres choose to spread the ball out and fed centre Sebastien Roque, who came in on an angled run to score.
They should have added another try but some fine last-ditch tackling from Justin Thomas saved Caerphilly.
Indeed, they refused to roll over and were happy to return to the dressing room only six points behind at half-time.
Caerphilly suffered a major blow straight from the restart.
Castres flanker Froment powered over a lacklustre defence to score in the corner after the Cheesmen had failed to deal with a breakdown in their 22.
The score ignited Castres desire to feed their backs quick ball. Time and time again they ran at the Caerphilly defence causing frequent danger.
Froment scored twice for Castres
Unable to clear their line, Romain Froment dented any hopes the Cheesemen had of getting back into the game when he drove over to score his second try in a seven-minute spell.
Once again Caerphilly refused to let their heads drop and went in search of a score. But they were unable to turn pressure into points and were quickly put on the back foot.
Full of confidence and oozing in class, Castres ran the ball from their own line and saw Nicolas Spanghero cross for his side's fourth try.
However, a break in concentration saw Joe El-Abd score Caerphilly's second try of the match and gave the Cheesemen a new sense of confidence.
With the game coming to an end, they were unable to get the score which would have got them back into the game, and saw Castres wing Laurent Arbo put the final nail in their coffin.
A valiant performance by the Welsh part-timers made sure that their fans enjoyed a good day out in Reading, but it was Castres who were crowned Parker Pen Shield champions for 2003.
Castres: Marticorena, Mola, Roque, Stoica, Arbo, Teulet, Albouy, Reggiardo, R. Vigneaux, J. Garcia, Barrier, Spanghero, Froment, Capo, Taussac.
Replacements: Narjissi, Moyle, Furet, Bisaro, Nadau, Raffault,
Caerphilly: Tuipulotu, Howell, Boobyer, J. Murphy, Taufahema, J. Thomas, Chiltern, Manning, Ferris (capt), Sweet, D. Davies, P. Jones, G. Jones, Workman, El Abd.
Replacements: Richards, Lewis, Bilton, Lidden, Vunupola,
Ref: Donal Courtney (Ireland).