Planet Rugby

Preview: Clermont v Castres

10th April 2014 13:29

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Castres Antonie Claassen top is tackled by Clermont

Challenging Clermont: Castres loose forward Antonie Claassen

European Cup semi-finalists Clermont host defending Top 14 champions Castres on Friday, hunting a 76th successive home victory.

After a bruising Heineken Cup quarter-final clash against Leicester last week, Clermont must switch their focus to the race for automatic qualification for the Top 14 semi-finals.

Les Juanards lie third, one point behind leaders Montpellier and Toulon and three points clear of fourth-placed Castres, who in turn have four clubs breathing down their necks.

Clermont claimed a 22-all draw on the road the last time these teams met, thanks to a Brock James drop-goal after the final hooter.

Castres have won just one game in eleven on the road this season, but Clermont coach Vern Cotter is under no illusions that there would be no let-up, especially after Castres' "week off".

"We're anticipating a massive game," said Cotter, whose team then play away to Racing-Metro the week after before their semi-final against Saracens in Twickenham.

"The squad's bouncing after the victory last weekend, it was really big for us but I don't sense too many problems because I feel the players are already focused on this new goal.

"The Euro quarter-final was good for us but I also know that it'll be different against Castres, we'll have to adapt."

Clermont will be missing France prop Thomas Domingo and Kiwi loose forward Fritz Lee, who are both are suffering from thigh injuries. Wingers Sitiveni Sivivatu and Julien Malzieu are also both absent as they are not quite match fit as they return from injury.

The hosts do however welcome back loose forward Gerhard Vosloo, on the bench, after he missed last week's European Cup quarter-final against Leicester.

Aurélien Rougerie is rested.

For Castres, Argentine prop Ramiro Herrera, who arrived last week as a medical joker, will make his debut in the absence of injured stalwarts Karena Wihongi and Anton Peikrishvili.

Wing Romain Martial has a shoulder injury but Yannick Forestier returns from suspension.

Veteran Fiji centre Seremaia Baï only returned to training on Thursday so is not match fit.

The teams:

Clermont: 15 Lee Byrne , 14 Noa Nakaitaci, 13 Benson Stanley, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Naipolioni Nalaga, 10 Brock James, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly, 7, Julien Bardy, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Julien Pierre, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Clement Ric, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Vincent Debaty.
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Raphael Chaume, 18 Nathan Hine , 19 Gerhard Vosloo, 20 Thierry Lacrampe, 21 Mike Delany, 22 Jean Marcellin Buttin, 23 Davit Zirakashvili.

Castres: 15 Geoffrey Palis, 14 Marcel Garvey, 13 Romain Cabannes, 12 Remi Lamerat, 11 Remy Grosso, 10 Remi Tales, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Yannick Caballero, 6 Piula Faasalele, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 4 Christophe Samson, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Mathieu Bonello, 1 Yannick Forestier.
Replacements: 16 Brice Mach, 17 Saimone Taumoepeau, 18 Richard Gray, 19 Ibrahim Diarra, 20 Cedric Garcia, 21 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 22 Romain Teulet, 23 Mihaita Lazar.

Date: Friday, April 11
Venue: Parc Des Sports Marcel Michelin
Kick-off: 20.45 local (18.45 GMT)
Referee: Jérôme Garcès
Assistant referees: Cyril Lafon, Stéphane Pomarède

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1Clermont Auvergne518
2Stade Francais517
3Toulon514
4Montpellier514
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