Newcastle Falcons will be looking for a third straight Challenge Cup victory over their opponents, Castres Olympique in the first game of Round 2. However, the going will be tough as the French club boast a record of 13 wins on the trot at their home ground of Stade Pierre Fabre. Welshman Craig Evans will be in charge of proceedings.
After setting the Premiership alight in the first three rounds, Falcons did not manage to deliver the goods in Round 1 last weekend when they slumped to a 33-20 defeat against Cardiff Blues. The Flacons let themselves down in the second half while they let Cardiff into the game to ultimately taste victory.
Castres also came out on the losing side last weekend – also against Welsh opposition in the shape of Ospreys. The writing was on the wall from very early on in that encounter as Ospreys kicked into gear with a great start which gave them a cushion of points, thus allowing them to express themselves freely and effectively for the remainder of the match.
Both clashes involving Falcons and Castres were quarter final match-ups (1997-98 and 2007-08) with Falcons taking both.
The Newcastle boys’ recent form in the Premiership indicates that they are indeed a quality outfit and their slip-up last weekend, one would imagine, might not be anything worth reading much into.
Castres enjoyed victory in their most recent Top14 clash – against Pau – but, overall, have struggled in the current competition with only 3 victories from 9 outings.
One would fancy Falcons to take this one but the European tournament does always add an element of unpredictability.