Leinster coach Matt O’Connor admitted on Thursday that he expects a spirited performance from French outfit Castres Olympique in the second European Rugby Champions Cup match. Playing at the Stade Pierre Antoine is certainly not new to Leinster. The Irish team managed a victory on its last visit and there have been several indications that it could be more of the same. Rugby Union odds from Betfair places Leinster at a comparatively good 7/10 to get a victory on Sunday. This price reflects the troubles Castres have been facing this season.
Castres lost the opening game of the pool 2, while they have managed just three victories in 10 matches this season. This poor run of form pits them against a team that is looking to take a commanding position in the pool with another win. Leinster looked like being on the verge of an opening match defeat against the Wasps, but they came back to get a 25-20 victory. Their overall record against Castres is extremely good and O’Connor will be feeling confident ahead of the match.
O’Connor, though, reminded his team that they cannot take the opposition lightly because the home support is likely to spur them on. They may be a poor outfit away from home at this moment in time, but O’Connor says that Castres are one of the top 20 teams in their own patch. A disappointing 25-9 defeat against Harlequins would not have been the ideal start for Castres, but they do have an opportunity to put things right in this match.
Memories will certainly go back to the last January meeting between the two teams when Castres had a 14 point lead at one stage before losing the match. Leinster managed a 29-22 victory back then, but O’Connor is aware that replicating such a performance again will be very difficult indeed. The key, according to the coach, is likely to be the absence of key names from the Castres line-up. The absence of players like Ibrahim Diarra and Rory Kockott will definitely be felt by Castres.
As a result of the good start to pool 2, Betfair places Leinster at a commanding 8/13 to top the pool. They are also 7/1 to win the title.
Even a point is not going to be the end of the world and it could actually turn into a great result.