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Montpellier will be without prop Davit Kubriachvili for their return European Rugby Champions Cup fixture against Top 14 rivals Castres Olympique after the Georgian’s red card last Saturday.
The two French giants will meet again on Sunday, with Castres out for revenge after their 36-14 loss last weekend. Kubriachvili was shown red by Welsh referee Ben Whitehouse for striking Thibault Lassale in the face with his shoulder at a ruck.
But Castres failed to capitalise on the extra man as Montpellier clawed their way back from 11-10 down at the break to pull off an impressive comeback that saw them run in three tries to Castres’ none.
Just over 100 miles separates the two French clubs who are split by only three points in the Top 14 with Montpellier sitting second, and Castres fifth.
But, for now at least, all eyes are firmly set on the Pool 4 clash, as both sides remain very much in the hunt for the knock-out stages in what is a very tight pool.
Leinster lead with 11 points, with Montpellier stalking behind with 10 – having been the only team in the group to topple the Irish giants. Castres remain third on five points with Northampton Saints bringing up the rear with four.
Castres’ home form has been excellent throughout the opening half of the season – they haven’t lost at the Stade Pierre-Antoine since their defeat to this season’s TOP 14 surprise package La Rochelle on 3 September.
And since then, Castres have strung together six home wins on the trot, including five in their domestic league, as well as the 41-7 demolition of the Saints on 22 October in Round 2. The hosts will fancy their chances for redemption, knowing Montpellier don't travel well.
Jake White’s outfit are the only side to lose to Northampton in the pool, and have lost four games on the road this season. Combined with Castres’ superb run of form at home, this could very well be the game that blows Pool 4 wide open.
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Castres revived their European Rugby Champions Cup campaign with a revenge 29-23 triumph over Montpellier.
Indiscipline cost the Challenge Cup champions once again, as Paul Willemse became the second Montpellier player in two weeks to be shown a red card. Tries from Akapusi Qera, Jesse Mogg and Nemani Nadolo had put them in commanding position.
But Alexander Bias’ score after Willemse’s shoulder charge snatched victory for Castres, who stayed in the game thanks to a Horacio Agulla score and 19 points from the kicking tee. Castres remain behind Montpellier in Pool 4, but only by a point heading into the final two rounds of pool action.
The home side were out to get back in the Pool 4 race for the quarter-finals with a revenge victory over their TOP14 rivals. And they got off to the perfect start when Benjamin Urdapilleta split the uprights with a penalty after three minutes.
Dimitri Catrikilis levelled the scores before Urdapilleta nudged the hosts back into a three-point lead. But the Challenge Cup holders asserted their dominance when Catrikilis found Qera with a perfectly weighted long pass to put the flanker over after a well worked lineout move. Catrikilis added the extras before Urdapilleta pulled Castres back to within a point with a penalty.
But two Argentinians combined to send the home side into the lead at half-time. Urdapilleta sent an accurate cross-filed kick towards flying Puma, who rose highest to claim the ball and dot down. Urdapilleta landed the touchline conversion to give the hosts a 16-10 advantage at the interval.
But Montpellier made a blistering start to the second-half to retake the initiative. Australia back Mogg raced over two minutes after the restart to move Montpellier back within a point, before Catrikilis landed a penalty to give the visitors the lead. And it got even better for Jake White’s side when giant wing Nadolo intercepted a loose pass in his own 22 to race home for their third score to put Montpellier 23-16 ahead.
Urdapilleta pulled three points back for Castres, before Montpellier opened the door with their second red card in as many weeks. Last time out it was Davit Kubriashvili who was dismissed for charging into a ruck and this time it was replacement second row Willemse.
And Castres made their man advantage count when they sent Bias over to move into a 26-23 lead. It got even worse for the visitors as Jannie du Plessis was shown yellow for offending as the try was scored. And Rory Kockott sealed victory with a late penalty.