Castres end Clermont's 77-game winning run
May 10, 2014
Rory Kockott was fantastic for Castres © Getty Images
Champions Castres ended Clermont's incredible 77-game unbeaten run at their Stade Marcel Michelin home to book a spot in the Top 14 semi-finals where they will face Montpellier.
The deadly boot of Rory Kockott proved to be decisive as he slotted 17 points as Castres shocked the home support to grab a deserved 22-16 win. Clermont went into the game with that record-breaking run of wins at their stronghold but Vern Cotter will now leave the club without having won any silverware in his final season.
In a nervy first-half, Kockott and Brock James exchanged penalties as the teams went into the break locked at 9-9. But it was Castres who started the second 40 the better of the two teams with Kockott slotting two penalties in quick succession. They had further joy when Remi Lamerat crashed over from close range as Clermont struggled with 14 men after Gerhard Vosloo was sin-binned. Kockott knocked over another penalty moments later and despite Damien Chouly's late try, it is Castres who go on to the semi-finals.
In the other barrage match, Racing Metro will play in the French Top 14 semi-finals for the first time after Jonathan Sexton kicked seven penalties from seven attempts to give them a 21-16 victory over Toulouse in the Stade Ernest Wallon.
Toulouse winger Hosea Gear scored the only try of the game, three minutes after half-time, but Racing's pack dominated the set-pieces throughout to secure possession and penalty attempts for Sexton. One other major talking point from the game was an incident surrounding Florian Fritz in the first-half. The Toulouse centre was left visibly shaken, with a head wound opening up, by a tackle from a Metro player. Despite seeming dazed, he soon returned to the field but was removed at half-time.
The result, which gave Racing revenge for their 33-19 defeat by the same opponents at the same venue in the quarter-finals 12 months ago, also ended Toulouse's proud run of 20 successive semi-final appearances. Racing Metro will now face Toulon in the final four.
Toulouse captain Thierry Dusautoir was devastated the club's run had come to an end. "It's a huge disappointment after playing in the semi-finals for 20 years," he said. "On the game itself, we tried to up the intensity in the second half, but left it too late."
Racing centre Henry Chavancy said. "We were saying that we felt a little cursed in the play-offs. These last four years we had made the play-offs but had not won a game."
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