Bet: Castres +11.5
The closing match of this first day of TOP 14 offers us a clash between the last two finalists of TOP 14. Montpellier host the champion, Castres, this Sunday at 17:05 at Altrad Stadium.
Winner of the regular season, last season, Montpellier lost in the final against Castres Olympique (13-29). Christophe Urios’s men were able to beat the Heraultans, who made too many mistakes to hope to win. Pienaar was defective at the foot and the MRH’s conquest was shaky.
Vern Cotter did not change its squad this summer. Turnover players like Moff, Michel, Tomane, Delannoy, Kubriashvili have left.
The main arrival is Johan Goosen, former Racing fullback. Internationals Julien Ledevedec and Levan Chilachava also signed.
Montpellier made a big physical preparation with the aim of reaching its peak of form at the time of approaching the Champions Cup. Many key players are injured like Camara, Dumoulin, J. du Plessis, Fall, Galletier, Nadolo, Nariashvili, Ouedraogo, Paillaugue, Picamoles and Serfontein. The captain will be Wiaan Liebenberg who was on loan to Béziers last year. The starting XV is rather solid but the back row and the bench seem rather light.
Castres created a surprise last season by winning the title of French champion. However, the Tarnais had snatched sixth place in the regular season. Before winning the final, the Castrais had already created a surprise by winning in Toulouse and defeating Racing 92 !
Castres didn’t lose any key players this summer. On the contrary, the CO has boosted his staff by taking players like Yann David, Martin Laveau, Scott Speeding, Camille Gérondeau or Kevin Gimeno.
Several players are absent like Jenneker, Jacquet, Caballero Babillot, Jelonch, Kockott, Smith, Batlle, … Nevertheless, the team remains very competitive with many potential starters. In front, it’s solid. At the back, the pair of center is complementary. The bench is of good quality. There’s just the prop Clerc that scares me a little.
Montpellier has a lot of regulars out. The team seems a little light in some positions. Players may lack energy with the difficult physical preparation. Castres is a great team. They want to do a job. I find that handicap a little too high. Right handicap : +8.5