Overseas wrap: Upsets in France

 May 12,2014
Written by: Editor

Rory Kockott was once again the star for Castres as the defending champions ended Clermont's 77-game unbeaten run on home soil in a shock result in Saturday's  Top 14 play-off.

Away winners in France have been rarities all season, but there were upsets in both the weekend's play-offs.

A year on from shocking Clermont in the semi-finals, Castres ended les Jaunards’ record streak at Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin with a 16 - 22 win while Racing-Metro stunned everyone with a 21-16 victory over Toulouse, who had lost just twice at home in four years!

Racing take on Toulon in the first semi-final in Lille on Friday while Castes will now face Montpellier at the same venue on Saturday.

Kockott - who was also his side's hero in last year's final win over Toulon - kicked five penalties and a conversion as well as setting up what proved to be the winning try for centre Remi Lamerat.

A desperate fightback from Clermont saw number eight Damien Chouly charge over in the dying minutes, but it proved too little, too late, to save Clermont's season.

French international loose forward Antonie Claassen, son of former Springbok captain Wynand Claassen, started at number eight for Castres, who produced their best performance of the season in what will go down as the biggest upset of the year in Europe.

On Friday, Ireland international Jonathan Sexton kicked all of Racing's points as the Parisians secured their first ever semi-final since the creation of the Top 14.

The historic win came just days after Sexton and Springbok lock Juandre Kruger had to be pulled apart following a training ground altercation as the expensively-assembled team put in a week of high-pressure preparation.

Jano Vermaak started at scrum-half for Toulouse but Springbok team-mate Gurthro Steenkamp was left on the bench in a questionable decision by coach Guy Novès. The plan backfired as the Toulouse scrum coughed up three penalties in the first half. Even though Steenkamp was introduced at half time, the damage was already done.

Over in England, Bok flank Francois Louw missed Bath's 19-16 loss to Harlequins, meaning they miss out on the Aviva Premiership semi-finals.

Louw damaged his ankle ligaments last month but the good news is the problem does not require surgery and he will be available for the June internationals.

Saracens boss Mark McCall and Leicester boss Richard Cockerill both spoke out over the decision to send off South African-born Justin Melck.

Melck was shown a straight red card after the assistant referee reportedly saw the number eight make eye contact with Leicester's Neil Briggs.

Briggs revealed after no contact had been made, leaving McCall fuming at a decision that took the game away from Saracens in the 31-27 loss.

Saracens nevertheless finished the regular season top of the table, and will host Harlequins in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Northampton will host Leicester in the other semi-final on Friday



Tags: European | 

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