Castres look to stretch Top 14 lead

Surprise Top 14 leaders Castres travel to Bourgoin in Top 14 action this weekend seeking to continue their fine form and consolidate their place atop the French first division.


Castres dispatched Biarritz 34-6 last week and centre Yoan Audrin said the club’s goals would change.


“The primary goal we fixed between ourselves was to stay in the Top 14,” said Audrin.


“We’re not far from that today, so this week we’ll surely fix ourselves other goals with the squad, the backroom staff and the club president. It’s certain that it’ll become interesting.”


Aside from Biarritz, Castres have seen off Perpignan, Clermont and Toulouse, but coach Laurent Travers warned that he would be urging his charges not to rest on their laurels.


“As far as we are concerned, we have to look at what’s coming up on the horizon. Today it’s Bourgoin and if we start to pull up because we played great against Toulouse and Biarritz, we won’t make it,” Travers told la Depeche du Midi newspaper.


“The 12 remaining games are essential if we hope to stay at the top end of the table.” Castres have amassed 46 points from their 14 games, sitting five ahead of Clermont and Perpigan, with Toulouse a further point adrift in fourth.


Montauban host Clermont in Friday’s match, hoping to build on their encouraging 17-12 defeat to Toulouse, who travel to Brive on Saturday with Biarritz playing at bottom-placed Albi.


Perpignan entertain Montpellier, while fifth-placed Toulon travel to Racing-Metro, the latter buoyant after a 23-20 midweek victory over Biarritz – their seventh win on the trot.


Stade Francais, who suffered defeats to Parisian rivals Racing-Metro and then Toulon during the November internationals, host Bayonne at the Stade de France with more than 70,000 tickets already sold for the event.


Coach Jacques Delmas admitted that the club needed a win against the Basque club languishing in 12th spot in the Top 14.


“We knew that this period would be tough,” he said. “In two matches, we had the intention of taking five points from 10 but we only took two.


“We hope we’ll get our internationals back and that everyone will arrive with the desire of getting the club back afloat in the knowledge that we’ll have to go looking for points away from home.”


Delmas added that the team were eager to win at the Stade de France, a stadium that has proved to be a financial and promotional windfall for the club but not one where many games have been won.


“We have to take away this negative pressure because it’s true that Stade lost games here last season and against Perpignan this year because we had a terrible start. The quicker we win there, the better it will be.”


Fixtures


Friday


Montauban v Clermont


Saturday


Brive v Toulouse,
Bourgoin v Castres,
Perpignan v Montpellier,
Racing-Metro v Toulon,
Albi v Biarritz,
Stade Francais v Bayonne

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