Preview: Toulouse v Castres

Date published: August 22 2014

The first game of round two of the Top 14 will feature two sides in need of reassurances after disappointing starts to their campaign.

The opening fixture of round two of the Top 14 will feature two sides in need of reassurances after disappointing starts to their campaign.

Who will be the more concerned of Toulouse and Castres is difficult to tell, with the former scraping to victory at home to Oyonnax, and the latter falling on home soil to Stade Français.

The loss for Castres was their first league defeat at home in more than a year, although their record at Stade Pierre Antoine continues, with the loss coming in Béziers.

It does however put them behind the eight ball at the start of the season, and they will need to end a 36-year wait for a win at Toulouse if they want to avoid a nightmare start to the campaign.

They will have to do that without their star signing Sitiveni Sivivatu, the former All Black has been ruled out for the first three to four months of the season with injury, but Scotland international Richie Grey should be back after missing the opener.

For Toulouse this season was supposed to mark a return to form after two trophyless years, but if the opening weekend was anything to go by, that wait will go on.

A perfect start to the game saw them rush into an 8-0 lead, Toby Flood grabbing a try on debut, even if he missed a couple of early kicks at goal which could have settled the nerves further.

The familiar problems were back however, an unreliable scrum stopped them from building a platform, while too often the final pass didn't go to hand.

In the end Oyonnax probably deserved more, with a controversial final turnover from Yannick Nyanga provoking the ire of the visitors.

And Toulouse will know that they need to improve quickly if they want to be in contention for the play-offs come the end of the season.

They will be able to welcome a couple of new faces this week, with former All Blacks hooker Corey Flynn having arrived, as has medical joker Kisi Pulu.

Toulouse: 15 Clement Poitrenaud, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Maxime Medard, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Jean-Marc Doussain, 8 Gillian Galan, 7 Imanol Harinordoquy, 6 Yannick Nyanga, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Romain Millo-Chluski, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Vasil Kakovin.
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Kisi Pulu, 18 Iosefa Tekori, 19 Gregory Lamboley, 20 Sebastien Bezy, 21 Yann David, 22 Thomas Ramos, 23 Neemia Tialata.

Castres: 15 Geoffrey Palis, 14 Max Evans, 13 Remi Lamerat, 12 Romain Cabannes, 11 Romain Martial, 10 Remi Tales (c), 9 Rory Kockott, 8 John Beattie, 7 Yannick Caballero, 6 Jannie Bornman, 5 Christophe Samson, 4 Piula Faaselele, 3 Paea Fa'anunu, 2 Brice Mach, 1 Saimone Taumoepeau.
Replacements: 16 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 17 Mihaita Lazar, 18 Victor Moreaux, 19 Ibrahim Diarra, 20 Cedric Garcia, 21 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 22 Julien Dumora, 23 Yohan Montes.

Date: Friday, August 22
Venue: Stade Ernest Wallon
Kick-off: 20.45 local (19.45 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gauzère
Assistant referees: Tual Trainini, Jacques De Lemos