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PREVIEW: Only pride at stake in all-French battle

Wednesday 20th January 2016

12:00 am (GMT)

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Tous deux éliminés dans la course aux phases finales en European Rugby Challenge Cup

Tous deux éliminés dans la course aux phases finales en European Rugby Challenge Cup

There will be nothing other than pride at stake in the all Top 14 clash between Castres Olympique and Pau at Stade Pierre Antoine in round six.

Pau, last season’s PROD2 champions, have yet to win a game on their return to European action and have now lost nine games in a row on the road in the Challenge Cup. You have to go back to 23 October, 2004 for the last time they won away from home in the tournament.

That was in the opening round, first leg match against GRAN Parma in Italy when they triumphed 35-15. Even though they lost successively away from home to London Irish, ASM Clermont Auvergne and Brive, they still reached the final. Sale Sharks beat them to the title at the Kassam Stadium, Oxford.

The following season they were beaten at Agen, Rugby Parma and London Irish and they away defeats this season have been against Sale Sharks and Newport Gwent Dragons. Twice Challenge Cup finalists, this would be the first time they have suffered a whitewash in the Challenge Cup if they lose at Castres.

It will be the second time this month the two teams have met as their first round fixture was postponed and finally played on 9 January at Stade du Hameau. Castres came out on top in that game, 30-21.

Castres saw an early 13 point advantage wiped out as the home side hit back to lead 14-13, but a second yellow card of the game swung the balance back in favour of the visitors with two tries in two minutes.

The two teams have yet to meet in the Top 14 and this game will give the Pau players their bearings before re-visiting the ground in round 22 on 30 April.  Only nine points separate the two clubs in the table, with Pau on 20 points in 11th place and Castres on 29 in eighth.

Match Facts

  • These teams have faced each other twice in the Challenge Cup with a win going to either team, though Castres won their most recent meeting 30-21.
  • Castres have won four of their last six matches against fellow French teams in the Challenge Cup, with Toulon the only team managing to beat them in that period.
  • Pau have lost their last eight away games in the Challenge Cup conceding 30 points per game on average.
  • However Pau have won seven of their last 11 matches against teams from France in the Challenge Cup.

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REPORT: Castres cruise to victory

Friday 22nd January 2016

12:00 am (GMT)

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Le Castres olympique

Le Castres olympique

Castres ensured they finished their European Rugby Challenge Cup pool stage on a high with a 24-7 triumph over Top14 rivals Pau.

Quentin Lespiaucq Brettes gave Pau an early advantage before tries from Remi Lamerat and Julien Beziat added to 14 points from three different boots.

Benjamin Urdapilleta fired the home side in-front after just three minutes as Castres looked to avenge their round five defeat to the Newport Gwent Dragons. But their hopes took a blow when a wounded Pau, looking for their first match points in the competition, hit-back with a try from hooker Brettes. The front-rower crashed over and All Black Colin Slade landed the conversion for a 7-3 lead.

But it took just four minutes for the hosts to retake the lead. French international Lamerat seared through to put Castres back in-front. Urdapilleta converted and added his second penalty of the game to give Castres a 13-7 half-time lead over their Top14 rivals.

Julien Caminati smacked a penalty over after the break to extend Castres’ lead to 16-7, before Pau’s hopes were boosted by Julien Caminati who saw yellow after 55 minutes. But instead, Castres continued to build their lead with their third different kicker of the night. Francois Fontaine landed a long-range penalty to send the hosts into an unassailable 19-7 lead.

And the game was finally wrapped up with five minutes remaining. Beziat barged his way over to make sure Castres finished Pool 3 with 15 match points, behind Sale Sharks and the Newport Gwent Dragons.

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