Toulon and Castres set up final showdown
May 25, 2013
Castres' players were able to celebrate a famous win over Clermont Auvergne to reach the Top 14 final © Getty Images
Toulon will go head-to-head with Castres for the Top 14 crown at the Stade de France in Paris next Saturday after winning their respective semi-finals.
Castres recorded a shock 25-9 win over regular season league leaders Clermont Auvergne at the Stade Beaujoire in Nantes on Saturday. Scrum-half Rory Kockott kicked 20 points for Castres who controlled the match from the start. By half-time they led 12-3 against a Clermont team who made a number of changes to the side that lost the Heineken Cup final to Toulon a week ago.
Fly-half Mike Delaney replaced Brook James and he kicked Clermont's only points in the first half. Kockott and Delaney then exchanged two penalties apiece at the start of the second half, but Castres remained in control and centre Romain Cabannes went over for the only try of the match in the 64th minute and with Kockott's conversion, Clermont were unable to summon the energy or poise to spark any sort of comeback.
Castres' reward is a date with the newly-crowned European champions Toulon who booked their place in the final with a 24-9 victory over defending champions Toulouse at the same venue on Friday night.
Fresh from steering Toulon to Heineken Cup glory last weekend, former England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson kicked 14 points to propel his side into the title-decider where they will play either Clermont Auvergne or Castres who meet in the second semi-final on Saturday.
South African Danie Rossouw put Toulon on course for victory with a try after just two minutes with Toulouse striking back soon after with a penalty from Kiwi playmaker Luke McAlister. Wilkinson gave his side a little more breathing room with his first penalty but McAlister would reduce the arrears before the break with his second successful kick.
Toulouse took the lead in the early stages of the second half with McAlister again on target from the tee but Toulon raised their game to dominate the contest and claim the win. Wilkinson's second penalty saw the lead change hands once again before a trademark drop goal edged them nearer a return to the final having been beaten by Toulouse in last season's finale.
His third penalty all but ended Toulouse's hopes of third Top 14 crown in-a-row before fullback Delon Armitage crossed to put the result beyond doubt. Wilkinson had the final say with a conversion to book his side's passage to the Stade de France in Paris that will host the final on June 1.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton pays a visit to Oxford University Women's Rugby Football Club who have recently made headlines across the world, from Tokyo to New York
"Gentlemen, if you want to see the World Cup going south yet again, you are going the right way about it," John Taylor looks at the state of European rugby
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points