Castres book semi-final date with Clermont
May 11, 2013
Racing's Antoine Battut tackled by Toulouse's Thierry Dusautoir © Getty Images
The semi-final line-up for this season's Top 14 has been confirmed following Castres' 25-19 victory over Montpellier at the Stade Pierre Antoine on Saturday.
A second-half try from No.8 Antonie Claassen and 17 points from the boot of scrum-half Rory Kockott carried the home side to a deserved play-off victory that sets up a final four clash against Clermont Auvergne with Toulon set to tackle Toulouse in the other semi-final.
Montpellier opened the scoring courtesy of scrum-half Benoit Paillaugue but his penalty was soon cancelled out by a drop goal from Castres fly-half Remy Tales. Kockott then got the better of Paillaugue in a kicking duel to propel his side into a 12-9 lead at half-time with the visitors suffering a further blow shortly before the break with a yellow card for lock Mamuka Gorgodze.
Castres made their rivals pay for the Georgian's indiscipline with Claassen crossing for the only try of the game at the start of the second half with Kockott landing the extras. Kockott added to his tally with two further penalties either side of another successful effort from Paillaugue but it was not enough to turn the game around with Montpellier's woe complete with a red card for Gorgodze for stamping.
On Friday night, Toulouse set up a semi-final showdown with Toulon with a 33-19 victory over Racing Metro. Racing fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski kicked the visitors into an early 6-3 lead but Toulouse took control of the contest midway through the first half with the opening try courtesy of centre Gael Fickou. Fly-half Luke McAlister failed to add to his earlier penalty with the conversion but was on target soon after to take the defending champions out to an 11-6 lead. A try from Racing No.8 Sakiusa Matadigo barrelled over to level the scores just before the break but there was still time for McAlister to edge his side ahead once more.
The Kiwi playmaker gave Toulouse some more breathing room soon after the re-start and they appeared to take the game beyond Racing when No.8 Louis Picamoles was driven over for his side's second try. But back came Racing once again with centre Henry Chavancy crossing just four minutes later with Wisniewski making it an eight-point game with the conversion.
McAlister and Wisniewski exchanged further penalties before veteran centre Yannick Jauzion left to a standing ovation as he made way in his final game in front of his home crowd. Two more penalties from McAlister put Toulouse in complete control and they closed out the win to set up a re-match of last year's title decider.
Top 14 Play-offs:
Friday, May 10
Saturday, May 11
Friday, May 24
Saturday, May 25
June 1 - Final, Stade de France, Paris.
Toulouse's Yoann Huget is tackled by Racing Metro's Sireli Bobo © Getty Images
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Firdose Moonda talks to Rob Louw about the difficulties of being a South African touring New Zealand at the height of Apartheid
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games