Luther Burrell powers into Castres in October © www.redhatphoto.com
Rugby News Why Friday night is a big match for Saints
Thinking that the Saints are out of Europe? Think again, because Friday night’s Heineken Cup clash with Castres is an opportunity to lay down a marker to put pressure on other clubs in the race for quarter final qualification.
Mathematically the Saints are still in with a chance of a place in the Heineken Cup’s final eight. Granted it is slim, with them needing either the Ospreys to deny Leinster even a losing bonus point or Connacht repeating their Toulouse heroics against Saracens at Allianz Park, but there is a chance nonetheless.
And even if the Heineken Cup remains tantalisingly out of reach come the end of the weekend there is still a place in the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter finals to play for.
The third, fourth and fifth-best runners-up in the Heineken Cup pools qualify for the Amlin Challenge Cup, and three times in the past four years one of these teams has gone on to lift the trophy at the end of the season – Cardiff Blues in 2010, Biarritz in 2012, and of course Leinster in 2013.
The Amlin Challenge Cup remains a sought after trophy, and a win on Friday night will put the Saints in pole position to continue their European campaign and pursue the silverware they won themselves in 2009.
Nevertheless, the key word in all this speculation is ‘win’, and it will be tough against a Castres outfit who are the reigning French champions and currently sit third in the Top 14 table, just four points behind leaders, Clermont Auvergne.
Coaches David Darricarrère. Matthias Rolland and Serge Milhas have a good track record of success, with Milhas coaching the Biarritz forward pack that won the Amlin Challenge Cup in 2012.
At the Stade Pierre Antoine an early interception try from wing Romain Martial gave Castres the impetus to hold Saints at arm’s length for a 19-13 win, despite Dylan Hartley’s second half effort.
And regardless of the team that they bring to Franklin’s Gardens on Friday night it will contain players who have won at the highest level of club rugby against the toughest opponents.
So every ounce of support from the stands will matter. Tickets are on sale now and throughout the rest of the week by CLICKING HERE
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