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Saints wary of Castres backlash

Thursday 18th October 2012

12:00 am (GMT)

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Northampton Saints travel to face Glasgow Warriors knowing only a bonus point victory in Scotland will give them any chance of keeping their hopes of a Heineken Cup quarter-final place alive. - 17/01/2013 13:45

Northampton Saints travel to face Glasgow Warriors knowing only a bonus point victory in Scotland will give them any chance of keeping their hopes of a Heineken Cup quarter-final place alive. - 17/01/2013 13:45

Northampton Saints will be looking for revenge – and keep their unbeaten start in this season’s Heineken Cup – when they travel to face Top 14 club Castres Olympique at Stade Ernest-Wallon

Dylan Hartley's side suffered a 41-22 away defeat to Castres in last season's Pool stages which ended the 2011 finalist's hopes of reaching the knock-out stages.

Skipper Hartley was satisfied with his side emerging with a bonus point 24-15 victory over Glasgow Warriors in their Pool opener but admits the trip to France will be a different proposition.

The England international hooker fears a backlash from Castres after the French side's one-sided 41-17 defeat to last year's finalists Ulster in Belfast on the opening weekend of the competition.

“We said in the week leading up to the game, if you want to go well in the Heineken Cup you’ve got to win your home games,” said Hartley

“Usually your first game is fairly important as well so we’ll take a lot of confidence from that.

“But we’ve got to back it up in France because it’s a huge challenge going away and winning over there, regardless of who you’re playing.”

Castres may have struggled against a rampant Ulster in Belfast but the French side have won 17 of their 26 European games on their home patch.

Match Facts

Northampton wing Ken Pisi made five clean breaks in the opening round of the Heineken Cup, more than any other player. However, he failed to convert any of them into tries.

Saints centre Dom Waldouck was the top tackler of round one, completing 19 tackles at a 100% success rate.

The Frenchmen have won just one of their last 10 Heineken Cup matches: 41-22 at home to opponents Northampton on 10 December 2011.

Northampton have lost only one of their last six clashes with Top 14 opponents: 22-41 at Castres last season.

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Castres Olympique see off Saints

Friday 19th October 2012

12:00 am (GMT)

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D'abord ultra-dominateurs face à Northampton

D'abord ultra-dominateurs face à Northampton

Castres Olympique did their chances of a first Heineken Cup quarter-final since 2002 no harm at all as they saw off Northampton Saints 21-16 at the Stade Ernest Wallon.

Castres opted to move the fixture to nearby Toulouse and that decision paid off as they bounced back from last week’s heavy defeat at Ulster.

Paul Bonnefond and Antonie Claassen scored tries for the hosts, with George Pisi’s late effort not enough to secure a second straight win for Northampton following success against Glasgow last time out.

The French side enjoyed a dream start as Bonnefond touched down with just seven-and-a-half minutes on the clock. Remi Tales’ cross-field kick wasn’t the most accurate but right wing Romain Martial leapt brilliantly to claim the high ball, before surging forward and offloading to the onrushing 22-year-old French international.

Castres’ prolific goal kicker Romain Teulet added the extras from the 15-metre line on the right and the full back stretched the lead to 10 points before the quarter-of-an-hour mark after Saints second row Courtney Lawes was penalised for playing the ball off his feet.

Northampton hit back straight from the restart, though, as Stephen Myler made Castres pay for sealing off their own ball on the edge of the 22. And the Saints were back to within a single score before the game was 25 minutes old as Myler slotted a second penalty to make it 13-6.

Castres came close to adding a second try to their tally just before the half-time whistle but Iosefa Tekori’s score was ruled out thanks to a flying tackle from Ken Pisi that dragged Marcel Garvey’s foot into touch.

The home side began the second period in impressive fashion as Bonnefond almost struck again only for an unfortunate bounce to prevent him from collecting his own chip ahead after Seremaia Bai’s beautiful pass out of the tackle.

Saints prop Brian Mujati then saw yellow for pulling down a maul on 44 minutes when his side lost their own lineout ball just 10 metres from their tryline and, even though Rory Kockott missed the resulting penalty, Castres did reap the rewards soon after. Huge pressure on the visiting scrum eventually told when No8 Claassen dotted down just as referee Alain Rolland called for Castres to ‘use it’.

Kockott failed with the conversion attempt but Castres were still 18-6 up and supposedly cruising before George Pisi scored Saints’ first and only try of the game on 59 minutes to give the 2000 Heineken Cup winners hope.

Pisi pounced after Kockott fumbled Ryan Lamb’s clever kick ahead as Saints made the most of stolen lineout ball on the opposition 10-metre line.

Myler’s conversion from directly beneath the sticks brought his side to within five points but a Tales drop goal made it 21-13 just moments later. Myler’s 73rd-minute penalty led to a nervy ending for Castres but they deservedly hung on to record a first Heineken Cup victory since last December’s win over the same opposition.

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