Harlequins v Castres - teams and prediction
PREVIEW: Harlequins will be out to clinch the top spot in Pool B when they host qualification-chasing Castres Olympique on Friday.
Current leaders Quins, who have already secured their Round of 16 berth, should achieve this feat with a bonus-point victory over opponents they have defeated in their last three Champions Cup encounters.
This run, in which they have conceded fewer than 20 points each time, reversed a four-match winless streak against Castres during which they shipped more than 20 points each time.
Harlequins’ three consecutive wins is their best run in the Champions Cup since securing four straight victories across the 2013/14 and 2014/15 campaigns.
Harlequins flyhalf Marcus Smith’s 44-point haul is 12 more than any other player in the Champions Cup this season. He has also scored a try in each of his last two appearances.
Castres have lost their last three Champions Cup matches, albeit by fewer than seven points each time. This is their worst run since suffering 10 consecutive defeats from 2013/14 to 2016/17.
Castres have averaged just 61 passes per game in the Champions Cup this season. This is at least 20 fewer than any other team and less than half Quins’ average of 125.
Harlequins wing Cadan Murphy: “We have had a really good run in Europe with three wins from.
“We are looking to secure that fourth win and hopefully get some home games at the Stoop in the knockouts in front of our fans, which would be pretty cool.”
@rugby365com: Harlequins by 12 points
Harlequins: 15 Nick David, 14 Louis Lynagh, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Tommy Allan, 9 Scott Steele, 8 Alex Dombrandt (captain), 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Viliami Taulani, 5 Hugh Tizard, 4 Dino Lamb, 3 Simon Kerrod, 2 Jack Musk, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Sam Riley, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Mak Wilson, 19 George Hammond, 20 Archie White, 21 Lewis Gjaltema, 22 Marcus Smith, 23 Joe Marchant.
Castres: 15 Thomas Larregain, 14 Antoine Zeghdar, 13 Pierre Aguillon, 12 Adrea Cocagi, 11 Filipo Nakosi, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Kevin Kornath, 7 Mateaki Kafatolu, 6 Nick Champion de Crespigny, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Florent Vanverberghe, 3 Antoine Guillamon, 2 Gaetan Barlot (captain), 1 Antoine Tichit.
Replacements: 16 Paula Ngauamo, 17 Julius Nostadt, 18 Matthew Tierney, 19 Théo Hannoyer, 20 Josaia Raisuqe, 21 Jérémy Fernandez, 22 Louis Le Brun, 23 Vilimoni Botitu.
Date: Friday, January 21
Venue: Twickenham Stoop, London
Kick-off: 20.00 (21.00 French time; 20.00 GMT)
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Ian Kenny (Scotland), Dave Sutherland (Scotland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)