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Clermont, Toulon into semifinals

Sun, 21 Apr 2013 09:38
Wesley-fofana-clermont French-top-14-trophy-630 Mathieubastareaudtoulon
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Clermont defeated defending champions Toulouse 39-17 on Saturday to reach the French Top 14 semifinals, a victory which also ensured a last-four place for Toulon.

Clermont also went top of the table, one point ahead of fellow European Cup semifinalists Toulon who slumped to a shock 24-25 loss at Grenoble.

Toulouse will still feature in the end of season play-offs where they will be joined by Castres, Racing-Metro and Montpellier.

With respective leads of 12 and 11 points over Toulouse, the top two are guaranteed to feature in the semifinals in Nantes on May 24 and 25.

Clermont's win over Toulouse, however, came at a cost with skipper and experienced centre Aurelien Rougerie forced off the pitch after just 14 minutes with a left thigh strain.

That will put a question mark over his fitness for next Saturday's European Cup semifinal against Munster in Montpellier

Saturday's win was Clermont's 59th in a row at their Marcel-Michelin stadium home, equalling the record set by Stade Francais from 2004 to 2008.

Vern Cotter's team had the game won in the first half-hour on Saturday when Wesley Fofana, Benson Stanley and Sitiveni Sivivatu all scored tries.

Centre Fofana grabbed his try after just 50 seconds.

Toulouse closed the gap in the second half with tries from Thierry Dusautoir and Louis Picamoles.

But a classy Clermont added another try to seal the win courtesy of a fine solo effort from former All Black Sitiveni Sivivatu.

Toulon rested a host of top stars for their trip to Grenoble with next weekend's European Cup semifinal clash at Saracens in their plans.

Jonny Wilkinson, the Top 14's leading points scorer with 339, sat out the game with David Smith getting a start.

Smith scored a try to take his total to eight for the season, but Grenoble scored three second-half tries to claim victory.

Meanwhile, Perpignan's 23-15 loss at Agen allowed Castres, Racing-Metro and Montpellier to confirm their top six, play-off spots.

Perpignan still have something to play for as they face Stade Francais in the European Challenge Cup semifinals on Friday.

Bayonne, who beat Montpellier 32-26, boosted their squad for next season by signing former All Black fly-half Stephen Brett from Japanese side Toyota Verblitz.

Top 14 results:
Clermont 39 Toulouse 17
Agen 23 Perpignan 15
Bayonne 32 Montpellier 26
Bordeaux 16 Biarritz 0
Castres 44 Mont-de-Marsan 17
Grenoble 25 Toulon 24

Top 14 table (played, won, drawn, lost, points for, against, bonus points, points):
Clermont 25 18 1 6 712 415 12 86 - qualified for semifinals
Toulon 25 17 1 7 736 435 15 85 - qualified for semifinals
Toulouse 25 16 0 9 645 494 10 74 - qualified for play-offs
Castres 25 15 2 8 571 460 9 73 - qualified for play-offs
Montpellier 25 15 0 10 520 498 8 68 - qualified for play-offs
Racing-Metro 24 15 0 9 467 384 8 68 - qualified for play-offs
Perpignan 25 13 0 12 571 557 9 61
Grenoble 25 12 0 13 473 549 6 54
Bayonne 25 11 1 13 431 576 7 53
Biarritz 25 11 1 13 453 523 6 52
Stade Francais 24 11 1 12 542 623 4 50
Bordeaux 25 8 1 16 558 517 13 47
Agen 25 6 0 19 402 666 7 31 - relegated
Mont-de-Marsan 25 2 0 23 341 725 7 15 - relegated

AFP

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