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Preview: Castres v Munster

18th November 2011 10:25

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Max Evans Castres blue

Max Evans: First HEC start for Castres

Scotland flyer Max Evans will make his first start in European rugby for Castres against former Champions Munster at Stade Ernest-Wallon on Saturday.

Despite an impressive home record at Stade Pierre-Antoine, Castres have moved the fixture to nearby Toulouse where Ernest-Wallon offers a large capacity.

The French side, who lie third in the Top 14 standings, will be looking to bounce back from their 31- 23 loss away to the Scarlets on the opening weekend but have left points machine Romain Teulet on the bench in favour of Florian Denos at full-back.

Elsewhere in the side, former All Black Chris Masoe starts at number eight while Iosefa Tekori and Scott Murray form a strong second row.

Munster have a good record against French opposition in the tournament, having won 22 of 32 matches played.

The last time these two sides met in the Heineken Cup was back in the 2005/6 season when Munster completed the double over Castres, including a 46 - 9 victory in France.

The Irish province began their campaign in dramatic fashion by beating last season's finalists Northampton Saints with a last minute drop goal at Thomond Park.

Meanwhile, Munster coach Tony McGahan has left the starting XV that beat Northampton last week unchanged.

And the only change to the match day 23 comes on the replacements bench where Marcus Horan returns at the expense of John Ryan, having recoverd from an ankle injury that forced his late withdrawal last weekend.

Horan's inclusion gives the Munster bench an added strength, the worth of which was seen towards the latter stages of that epic encounter last Saturday.

"They're a very good and a very consistent side," said McGahan of Castres.

"If you've been watching the Top 14 over the last two and a bit years, you see how they've progressed to being a top four side. They've established a very strong forward pack and the way their captain Chris Masoe has been playing the last few months has been terrific.

"They've a big forward pack, very strong, very physical, a set-piece dominated very traditional French side. Then a strong 9 and 10 who kick the ball extremely well. Two big centres, Cabannes and Bonnefond, who're able to play through that channel one position, then play off the back of that. Impressive.

"They've had a wonderful start to this season, I know they came up short in the last few games but before that they'd beaten some top sides, Stade Français, Toulouse, Biarritz.

"A Quality side, no doubt about that."

The teams:

Castres: 15 Florian Denos, 14 Max Evans, 13 Paul Bonnefond, 12 Pierre-Manuel Garcia, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Pierre Bernard, 9 Thierry Lacrampe, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Yannick Caballero, 6 Jannie Bornman, 5 Iosefa Tekori, 4 Scott Murray, 3 Karena Wihongi, 2 Brice Mach, 1 Anton Peikrishvili.
Replacements: 16 Mathieu Bonello, 17 Michaël Coetzee, 18 Luc Ducalcon, 19 Matthias Rolland, 20 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 21 Romain Teulet, 22 Rémi Tales, 23 Pierre-Gilles Lakafia,

Munster: 15 Johne Murphy, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Danny Barnes, 12 Lifeimi Mafi, 11 Denis Hurley, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Conor Murray, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Niall Ronan, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Damien Varley, 1 Wian du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Denis Fogarty, 17 Marcus Horan, 18 John Hayes, 19 Donncha O'Callaghan, 20 Denis Leamy, 21 Tomas O'Leary, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Will Chambers.

Date: Saturday 19th November
Venue: Stade Ernest-Wallon, Toulouse
Kick-off: 16.40 (15.40 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes

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Pool 1
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2Clermont Auvergne26
3Saracens25
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