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Preview: Castres v Montpellier

10th May 2013 11:20

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Castres Ibrahim Diarra try v montpellier 2011

Familiar play-off foes: Castres host Montpellier

Montpellier face Castres in the Top 14 play-offs for the third consecutive year when they travel to Stade Pierre-Antoine on Saturday.

It's almost a year since Montpellier slumped to a 31-15 defeat to Castres in the 2012 play-offs (in Toulouse) and this weekend's visitors to the Tarn have already spoken of their desire to erase the memories of that heavy loss.

It was Montpellier, however, who claimed the spoils at this venue in 2011 (18-17), before going on to lose narrowly to Toulouse in the final.

This is also the third time these teams will face off this season, with Castres having won 26-20 on home soil when they last met in March, while Montpellier were 19-12 victors on the Mediterranean coast in September.

Castres have qualified for the play-offs every year since their introduction in 2010 but have only made it to the semi-finals once, losing to Toulouse last year.

We could be in for an open game as Montpellier are one of the most adventurous teams in the Top 14 and will be forced to open up against a Castres side notorious for their ability to grind out tight results based on a no-frills approach and accurate goal kickers. Castres also have quality wings, who will be a threat on the counter attack if Montpellier get sloppy.

Castres have been almost unbeatable at home this season, losing just one game - 18-16 to Toulouse back in December.

CO's game will revolved around scrum-half Rory Kockott, who is their top points and try scorer this season, while Montpellier will look to France fly-half François Trinh-Duc to unleash their attack. Keep an eye on Montpellier wing Timoci Nagusa, who has scored seven tries this term.

Montpellier have named Georgian loose forward Mamuka Gorgodze in the second-row to accommodate Alexandre Bias on the flank. Kiwi wing Taleta Tupuola is on the wing, preferred ahead of Martin Bustos Moyano while Jonny Beattie must settled for a place on the bench.

Castres hooker Mathieu Bonello faces a fitness test on Friday after suffering concussion in last week's narrow loss to Racing Metro.

The teams:

Castres: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Romain Martial, 13 Paul Bonnefond, 12 Seremaia Baï, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Remi Talès, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Antoine Claassen, 7 Yannick Caballero, 6 Jan de bruin Bornman, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 4 Christophe Samson, 3 Karena Wihongi, 2 Brice Mach, 1 Saimone Taumoepeau.
Replacements: 16 Mathieu Bonello, 17 Mihaïta Lazar, 18 Matthias Rolland, 19 Ibrahim Diarra, 20 Thierry Lacrampe, 21 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 22 Romain Teulet, 23 Michael Coetzee.

Montpellier: 15 Benoît Sicart, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Thomas Combezou, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Taleta Tupuola, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Benoit Paillaugue, 8 Alex Tulou, 7 Alexandre Bias, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Thibault Privat, 4 Mamuka Gorgodze, 3 Maximiliano Bustos, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili.
Replacements: 16 Charles Geli, 17 Nahuel Lobo, 18 Mickael De Marco, 19 Johnnie Beattie, 20 Julien Tomas, 21 Hamish Gard, 22 Martin Bustos Moyano, 23 Vincent Pelo.

Date: Saturday, May 11
Venue: Stade Pierre-Antoine, Castres
Kick-off: 14.40 (12.40 GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite

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