Castre v Munster preview & team news

Updated: November 16, 2011

Following their incredible last gasp victory over Northampton last weekend, Munster bid to make it two wins from two in the Heineken Cup, when they travel to France to take on Castres on Saturday.

Munster will head to France without any fresh injuries from last weekend, Marcus Horan should be fit after missing last weekend with an ankle injury and on paper at least, Munster should be capable of retaining their unbeaten record this weekend.

The Irish province have played Castres on ten occasions in Europe and have been successful on seven of those appearances. The French side, who have given up home advantage in order to boost their coffers, have only qualified from the pool stages once from nine attempts and would not be considered the strongest opposition.

Contrast that pedigree with that of Munster, who have won the title twice and qualified for the knockout stages in twelve of the last thirteen seasons. Castres lost out to Scarlets in the opening week and will be anxious to get their campaign back on track on Sunday.

It is crucial for every team to win their home matches and a defeat this weekend will leave the French side in serious danger of missing out on qualification despite the group being but two games old.

Munster looked right back to their best last weekend, having had a mixed season to date and the performances of Heineken cup debtutants Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray and Danny Barnes was a real positive for Tony Gahan last weekend was a major boost for Tony Gahan.

The men in red won four successive RaboDirect Pro12 games but then lost three of their last four and have dropped to third in that competition.
The visit of Northampton last weekend was always going to be a difficult assignment but victory at Thomond Park set the home side up for a profitable campaign. Ronan O’Gara showed that he retains the hunger needed at this level and he will be instrumental in his side’s march once again this year. Despite the loss of Felix Jones, David Wallace and Keith Earls, Munster looks capable of going a long way in this seasons competition.

Castres have lost their form in recent weeks and are meeting Munster at the worst possible time. Prior to the World Cup, the French side had won seven games in succession and headed the Top 14. However, defeats to Racing and Bordeaux saw them loose top spot and this was compounded by a defeat in Europe last Saturday. It is difficult to see the side bouncing back against Munster and they look a side in decline.

Despite a mixed few weeks if Munster can maintain the level of performance they showed last weekened then they should too much for the French side.

Scarlets are next up for the Irish side and a victory against the Welsh would leave the Irish men in control of the pool heading into Christmas.

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