Northampton v Castres
I am drawn to this match with Castres out of the competition and Northampton needing to squeeze into the last qualifying spot. Northampton have been one of the best sides on show when getting it right and could dominate the poor travelling Castres side both up front and in the backs.
Northampton showed just what a strong side they are after capitulating at home v Leinster to go to Ireland and win the following week, they have a lot of players in form and possess a real cutting edge with George North looking very dangerous in everything he does. The pack is very strong and work very well as a unit.
Castres are woeful away from home seem disinterested. They are a little up and down when on thier travels, losing to both Leinster and the Ospreys by 9 and 12, while other seasons have seen them put up good performances in matches followed by woeful ones. They have play Northampton twice in recent H cup matches losing just 18-12 but the year before 45-0.
It would normally mean leaving this match alone but with Leicester already on 20 pts and Saracens looking likely to win at home v Connacht, which will take them to 19pts without the try bonus, just an Amlin Cup place is up for grabs unless Saracens slip up. Quins and Edinburgh are on 12 points but realistically out of it which leaves Cardiff level on 13 pts and just 1 try behind them. They have a home fixture v Exeter which was a high scoring opening fixture and with Exeter out Cardiff will also be looking for tries. With this in mind Northampton are going to have to look for at least the try bonus and some more to ensure that Amlin place is put as far out of Cardiff’s grasp on Saturday.
Variety of best bets
The -14.5 is very achievable and the 5/6 for this a good few points too low
over 4.5 match tries is the best bet though at 5/6
Northampton will have to win the match first and i expect a solid first half before the ball is thrown about in the search for tries so highest scoring half would be the 2nd half at 5/6
lastly i am going to dutch total match tries of 6 and 7 at 4/1 and 13/2. Northampton should score at least 4 or 5 and Castres may just nick one as the ball is thrown around