Castres expect return of star duo for Munster game

Brive 27 Castres 22: Veteran captain Rodrigo Capo Ortega and experienced scrum-half Rory Kockott are expected to return for Castres for Sunday’s Champions Cup open clash with Munster after missing this surprise loss at Stade Amedee Domenech on Saturday evening.

Castres expect return of star duo for Munster game

Capo Ortega, the 36-year old former Uruguay international, was expected to return for this clash with a Brive side who had not won a match all season.

Kockott, the South African who won the last of his 11 French caps two years ago, sat out this encounter as his wife was due to give birth, but the return of the experienced duo is expected to be among several changes for next Sunday’s clash with Munster.

Castres coach Christophe Urios was far from happy with this performance. He fielded the same side which turned over champions Clermont Auvergne 29-23 the previous week in Castres, but they were chasing this one when they trailed 16-7 at the interval and found themselves 27-12 down with six minutes remaining.

Full-back Julien Dumora, their best player, ignited a late comeback with his second try but they had to settle for a bonus point and now go into Europe with just two victories from seven outings.

“We will need to improve next week, taking on Munster in front of our own supporters. We did not play well in the first-half and left ourselves with too much to do,” said Urios.

Brive, who will meet Connacht twice in December in the Challenge Cup, were roared on by 9,556 as they secured their first win of the campaign, but they remain bottom of the table.

The return of Capo Ortega and Kockott will be boosted by the availability of back-rowers Mathieu Babillot and Yannick Caballero, along with lock Thibault Lassalle, but Castres may be without hooker Marc-Antoine Rallier and prop Armand Batlle.

All three French sides who meet Irish opposition next weekend were defeated at the weekend with Montpellier being knocked off top spot when they went down 31-20 away to Stade Francais.

Ruan Pienaar kicked 10 points for Montpellier as they went down to their second defeat of the campaign with Lyon, following La Rochelle’s run last season, the surprise leaders as the Top14 breaks for Europe.

Former Munster lock Dave Foley was the hero for Pau as his late try gave them a 19-16 win away to an Oyonnax side who will host Connacht next Saturday in the Challenge Cup.

Foley, who moved to France in the summer, came on as a replacement in the second-half along with another Munster player Sean Dougall — Paddy Butler started the game — to fashion a fourth win of the campaign for Simon Mannix’s side.

The defeat means that Oyonnax, with former Munster scrum-half Mike Prendergast as backs coach, head into Europe with just one win from seven games this season, but they will take on a Connacht side who have lost five from six.

That game next Saturday night will take place in Geneva — Oyonnax is located close to the Swiss border — in an effort to broaden the support base of the French club.

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