Friday 18 January 2019

Castres take solace in denying Van Graan's crew four-try bonus point

Conor Murray offloads to CJ Stander (left) to set up Munster’s second try. Photo: Sportsfile
Conor Murray offloads to CJ Stander (left) to set up Munster’s second try. Photo: Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Castres are not giving up on making it out of their pool for the first time since 2002, according to their defence and forwards coach Joe El Abd who is targeting a big turnaround in the return fixture to keep their hopes alive.

The Englishman had no qualms about yesterday's 30-5 defeat at Thomond Park but believes a better performance at home can turn things around in the tie.

The French champions are third in Pool 2 on five points, six behind leaders Munster who remain unbeaten after three games.

No two teams have played each other more than these opponents and their 16th clash will be a fiery affair.

El Abd says Castres will take solace from denying their hosts a bonus point.

"Absolutely, this competition is all about that; winning your home games and getting bonus points," he said.

"They didn't manage to do that today, neither did we. So it's 4-0, we need to do the same next week.

"It's going to be a very tough game (next week). Very different? I'm not too sure.

"We know what to expect, we played them last year at home and that game was different to the one away so we hope that we can get a similar result. Last year we got a draw, (this time) we need to win 4-0 in points. Today, we lost 4-0 and they didn't get the bonus point, so we're still alive in the competition and next week we are going to need to do what they did to us today."

El-Abd had no complaints about the result in tough conditions in Limerick.

"We're very disappointed. Obviously we had big ambitions today, but we got dominated in every sector and that's reflected in the result," he said.

"We've got no complaints about the result.

"The first half, we managed to stay in it. I don't think we did much either, we turned at 6-0 with everything to play for but the early try in the second half was difficult to recover from and from there it was an uphill battle.

"Munster were on their game today, you always know that Munster are going to perform in the Heineken Cup, it's the competition they attack 100pc.

"They put us under pressure everywhere, we weren't great. We weren't very precise in what we did and that's due in large amounts to what they did on the pitch today."

Munster coach Johann van Graan is not overly concerned at missing out on the extra point.

"Not really," he said.

"I think it was a good performance and at half-time as a coach you have always got the feeling if they score now it might be a totally different game but I thought all credit to our players after half-time.

"Look, in a perfect world you always want the five points but we are very happy with the performance and the points difference and very happy with the display given all factors."

Castres have scope to strengthen their team with Robert Ebersohn, Steve Mafi and Geoffrey Palis to come in, while Munster will hope Joey Carbery and Chris Farrell will recover after missing out having been named in the team.

Irish Independent

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