Clermont close in on semi-final berth
April 16, 2010
Clermont's Marius Joubert crosses for his side's first try at the Stade Marcel Michelin
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Clermont Auvergne maintained their push for a place in this season's Top 14 play-off semi-finals with a 25-19 victory over title rivals Castres at the Stade Marcel Michelin.
Dumped out of this season's Heineken Cup by Leinster in their last outing, Les Jaunards bounced back to form with a hard-fought victory that saw them climb above Castres and Toulon into second place in the table. And with only one round of the regular season remaining, the victory also boosted their chances of securing a top two finish and with it a bye directly into the second round of the post-season.
The visitors got off to a flying start with a penalty from the boot of fly-half Romain Teulet with only a minute on the clock and he edged his side further ahead with a second midway through the half. Clermont hit back with the opening try of the game through centre Marius Joubert just short of the half hour. But back came Castres with a try of their own from winger Marc Andreu just a few minutes later that was converted by Teulet and as a result they entered the break with a 13-5 lead.
Teulet extended Castres' lead with his third penalty shortly after the re-start but Clermont closed the gap almost immediately with a try from No.8 Elvis Vermeulen that was converted by replacement scrum-half Morgan Parra. The French international brought his side to within a point as the game ticked past the hour mark and when centre Gonzalo Canale crossed for his side third try two minutes later Parra again stepped up to add the extras.
A Teulet drop goal made it a three-point game moments later but as the game entered the final ten minutes, Parra gave his side some priceless breathing room with his second penalty. The result leaves Clermont, beaten finalists in the last three finals, just one point behind leaders Perpignan who travel to the now fourth-placed Toulon on Saturday.
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