After a fifth successive Pool win, Munster become the first side through to the quarter finals of this year’s Heineken Cup
And given the composition of their Pool it is quite an achievement that they have secured their place in the knock-out stages with a game yet to play. Before the competition started, opinion outside the dressing room was largely that they'd struggle to be involved in two months time but their no frills never say die performances, this time 26-10, has them in with a fighting chance of a return to Thomond Park Stadium for the April quarter finals
They started brightly with a rehearsed move off a line-out that saw Johne Murphy race in for a try with less than ten minutes on the clock and just earlier James Coughlan had backed himself, with men outside only to be stopped inches short.
Ronan O'Gara added the extras and then a penalty for a 10 point lead but the sellout crowd were silenced in the 15th minute Yannick Caballero took advantage of slack defence to score with Pierre Bernard converting.
Niall Ronan was helped off with a knee injury to be replaced by Donncha O'Callaghan – Donnacha Ryan moved to six – and two more O'Gara penalties saw the sides go in at the break Munster leading 16-7.
Shortly after the restart Bernard boomed over a penalty from half way to leave one score separating the sides but O'Gara's 52nd minute penalty made it two and Conor Murray darted in under the posts soon after for a score that was disallowed for an infringement in the lead-up.
A try at that stage might have opened the floodgates but instead the visitors continued to be stubborn opponents. Wian du Preez eventually forced his way over for their second try with 12 minutes to go, however a determined French rearguard ensured they went home with pride intact.
Munster: D Hurley; J Murphy, K Earls, L Mafi (D Barnes 78), S Zebo; R O'Gara (I Keatley 74), C Murray (T O'Leary 66); W Du Preez (M Horan 73), D Varley (D Fogarty 73), BJ Botha (S Archer 74), D Ryan, P O'Connell (capt), P O'Mahony (B Holland 78), J Coughlan, N Ronan (D O'Callaghan 14)
Castres: R Martial; V Inigo (M Nicolas 74), P Bonnefond, PM Garcia, PG Lakafia; P Bernard, T Lacrampe (yc 55-65); S Taumoepeau (M Coetzee 55), MA Ralier (M Bonello 66), A Peikrishvili (K Wihongi 55), M Rolland (capt), R Capo Ortega, Y Caballero, J Bornman, I Diarra
Referee: A Small (England)