Preview: Toulon v Castres

Date published: May 18 2017

Toulon and Castres kick-off the knockout stage of the Top 14 on Friday when the sides finishing fourth and fifth on the table clash.

Stade Mayol is the venue for this fixture as Toulon look to repeat their home win over their opponent, which took place only last month.

Home field advantage has been hugely significant for many years in games between these two sides and that will warm Toulon fans this week. And with Toulon having enjoyed a four-game winning streak at the end of the regular-season, they head into the knockout stage in good spirits.

For Castres meanwhile they have won just two of their last five games and enter on the back of an away defeat at the hands of Brive.

The winner of this game will progress into a semi-final with Top 14 regular-season winners La Rochelle at Stade Vélodrome next Friday.

In team news, Toulon have made two changes to their backline that overcame Pau in their most recent fixture, with Ma’a Nonu and François Trinh-Duc named at centre and fly-half, replacing James O’Connor and Anthony Belleau. Bryan Habana is missing from the matchday squad.

Marcel van der Merwe starts ahead of Levan Chilachava at tighthead in the only change to the pack as Duane Vermeulen leads Toulon.

Castres meanwhile recall Rory Kockott at scrum-half ahead of Antoine Dupont while Julien Caminati comes in for Horacio Agulla at 14.

Maama Vaipulu, Anthony Jelonch and Yannick Caballero form a new-look back-row while Antoine Tichit replaces Mihaita Lazãr at prop.

The teams:

Toulon: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 François Trinh-Duc, 9 Sébastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Juan Smith, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Juandré Kruger, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Laurent Delboulbès
Replacements: 16 Anthony Étrillard, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Mamuka Gorgodze, 19 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 20 Anthony Belleau, 21 James O’Connor, 22 Eric Escande, 23 Levan Chilachava

Castres: 15 Pierre Berard, 14 Julien Caminati, 13 Thomas Combezou, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 David Smith, 10 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Maama Vaipulu, 7 Anthony Jelonch, 6 Yannick Caballero, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 4 Loic Jacquet, 3 Damien Tussac, 2 Brice Mach, 1 Antoine Tichit
Replacements: 16 Jody Jenneker, 17 Tudor Stroe, 18 Victor Moreaux, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Antoine Dupont, 21 Afusipa Taumoepeau, 22 Julien Dumora, 23 Yohann Montes

Date: Friday, May 19
Venue: Stade Mayol
Kick-off: 21:00 local (19:00 GMT)
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz
Assistant Referees: Adrien Descottes, Thomas Déjean
TMO: Arnaud Blondel