ERCC: Castres v Leinster Preview


We take a look at Friday night's European Rugby Champions Cup tie between Castres and Leinster.

Friday' night's Pool 4 clash sees Castres Olympique host Leinster at the Stade Pierre-Antoine, where the Frenchmen will be hoping for a bonus-point win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

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Castres v Leinster | Friday 20 January | Stade Pierre-Antoine | 21:45

To Win (80 mins)
Castres 4/1 | Draw 30/1 | Leinster 1/7

Castres Olympique have failed to inspire this season. Sitting sixth on the Top 14, and second in their ERCC Pool (with just two wins in five matches), the men in blue will certainly be feeling that way, as they not only have to win with a bonus-point this weekend but also hope that Montpellier come unstuck against Northampton in Pool 4's other matchup. Their French counterparts sit on 11 points (one more ahead of them), as Castres look to become the first ever European side to qualify for the knock-outs with 15 points.

In their most recent game, Castres went down 28-21 at Franklin's Gardens, and they'll have it all to do against their next opponents. They will, however, be encouraged by the performances of (South African centre) Robert Ebersohn, full-back Geoffrey Palis, as well as the impact off the bench of regular captain Rodrigo Capo Ortega. Their hard running lines, as well as the boot of Rory Kockett, should see the French outfit in with a chance.

Meanwhile, runaway Pool winners Leinster will look to add to their four wins already this season, with a victory at the Stade Pierre-Antoine. Aside from their one blemish this European season (a 22-13 away defeat to Montpellier), the Irishmen have been absolutely ruthless, collecting 203 points for the loss of a mere 63.

Despite initial injury concerns over talismanic first-five Jonny Sexton (after his collision with Frans Steyn this past weekend), senior coach Stuart Lancaster has given him the all-clear, saying that "He is fit and raring to go."

Also, after initial doubts over Isa Nacewa's "dead leg" situation, the 2016/17's top point scorer (75) seems well enough to lead his side out for the sixth time this European season.

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Verdict: Castres 4/1
Leinster's impressive European record this season should sees them head into this one as strong favorites, but don't write off this Castres side. They need to win this game to stay in contention, and their desperation may see them over the line this time round. I'd put my money on Castres to win it by between 3 and 8 points.

Written by Shaun Goosen for!

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