Clermont bid to bury Euro woes

Thu, 23 May 2013 13:45
Large jonny wilkinson toulon dire Large vern cotter h s Large jonny wilkinson media

European champions Toulon and beaten finalists Clermont face little rest after their hard-fought title battle.

European champions Toulon and beaten finalists Clermont face little rest after their hard-fought title battle, the two teams back in action this weekend in the fight for the Top 14 crown.

Toulon, whom English flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson steered to a 16-15 victory over Clermont in the Euro Cup Final, are first up, with a tough encounter against 19-time champions Toulouse on Friday.

Clermont then take to the same Stade de La Beaujoire in the western French city of Nantes on Saturday, drawn against Castres.

Vern Cotter's team, devastated after losing out to Toulon despite outscoring them by two tries to one in the European Cup final, finished the regular season one point ahead of Bernard Laporte's Mediterranean outfit.

Toulouse were 14 points further adrift in third, with Castres in the final semifinal spot.

Clermont flank Julien Bonnaire said his team would not be underestimating Castres, convincing winners over Montpellier in the play-offs.

"They're not there by chance," the France international said.

"They're a complete team. But we're capable of beating whoever.

"We've all got to be on our game for the full 80 minutes.

"I know Castres will be ready and waiting. But if we do what we need to, we'll win.

"We'll have to play like we did at the start of the season. There's no need to look for any other motivation."

Castres flank Yannick Caballero maintained that Clermont were "not invincible".

"If we watch them play, it's going to cost us very dearly.

"So we'll have to try to impose our game-plan and believe in our chances."

Toulon's players will take to the park wearing jerseys embroidered with a star signifying their European success, but thoughts of a double are far from their minds.

"From Monday we'll have to switch over and think of the semi-final," European Cup man-of-the-match Mathieu Bastareaud said after the final.

"We're professionals. We've gone halfway, we know we cane still achieve something historic. We have the means to do it.

"But Toulouse will be awaiting us with teeth bared."

Toulouse won the Top 14 last season, with a tight 18-12 victory over Toulon in the final, all the points coming from penalty kicks from ex-All Black Luke McAlister and Wilkinson.

Toulouse's France wing/fullback Yoann Huget said there was no need for his team to ask themselves "10,000 questions".

"We'll have to be physically ready to deal with the kitchen sink Toulon are going to throw at us," he said.

(Kick-off times GMT)

Friday, May 24

Toulon v Toulouse
(Stade de La Beaujoire, Nantes - 19.00)
Referee: Pascal Gauzère
Assistant referees: Romain Poite, Sébastien Clouté
TMO: Jean-Luc Pellaprat

Saturday, May 25

Clermont v Castres
(Stade de La Beaujoire, Nantes - 14.30)
Referee: Christophe Berdos
Assistant referees: Patrick Pechambert, Sébastien Minery
TMO: Eric Gauzins Clermont

* The Final will be at Stade de France, Saturday June 1 (19.00)


There are currently no matches being played
Fri, 27 November 2015
Leinster v Ulster 19h35 RDS Arena
Glasgow Warriors v Treviso 19h35 true
Edinburgh v Dragons 19h35 BT Murrayfield
Northampton Saints v Gloucester 19h45 Franklin's Gardens
Sat, 28 November 2015
Sale Sharks v Newcastle Falcons 14h30 AJ Bell Stadium
Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins 15h00 Sandy Park
Ospreys v Cardiff Blues 15h00 Liberty Stadium
Saracens v Worcester Warriors 15h15 Twickenham
Munster v Connacht 17h15 Thomond Park
London Irish v Wasps 17h30 Twickenham
Sun, 29 November 2015
Scarlets v Zebre 14h30 Parc y Scarlets
Leicester Tigers v Bath 15h00 Welford Road
TOP 14