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Top 14 rugby semi-final match preview: Clermont v Castres
Clermont will be looking to bounce back from Heineken Cup defeat as they take on Castres in Nantes for a place in the Top 14 final on Saturday.
Despite narrowly missing out to compatriots Toulon in Dublin last weekend Clermont will head into the semi-final favourites to seal their ticket to the Stade de France.
Top of the standing at the end of the regular season, Clermont have featured in last four every year since 2007 but have lost their last two semi-finals.
While few will look beyond the 2010 champions, flanker Julien Bonnaire insists Clermont are by no means complacent.
"They're not there by chance, they're a complete team but we're capable of beating whoever," the 34-year-old said.
Clermont await news on the fitness of several players including; Ti'I Paulo, Benjaming Kayser, Gerhard Vosloo, Jamie Cudmore, Wesley Fofana and Morgan Parra who have all missed training earlier this week.
Meanwhile Castres coaches Laurent Labit and Laurent Travers are set to switch to Racing Metro next season and will be eager to end their reign on a high.
Since the duos arrival four years ago Castres have featured in the play-offs every season but are yet to reach the final.
Castres are boosted by the return to fitness of French international prop Yannick Forestier, Samoan lock Joe Tekori and centre Romain Cabannes.
Antonie Claassen scored a crucial try for Castres as they completed a convincing 25-12 victory over Montpellier in the last round to book their place in the semi-final at the Stade de la Beaujoire.
Clermont were the victors last time the duo met, winning 37-10 in the Top 14 back in March.
Clermont: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 Aurélien Rougerie (capt), 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Naipolioni Nalaga, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Julien Bardy, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Loïc Jacquet, 4 Julien Pierre, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Raphael Chaume.
Replacements:16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Thomas Domingo, 18 Nathan Hines, 19 Alexandre Lapandry, 20 Ludovic Radosavljevic, 21 Brock James, 22 Benson Stanley, 23 Daniel Kotze.
Castres: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Romain Martial, 13 Romain Cabannes, 12 Seremaia Baï, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Remi Talès, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Yannick Caballero, 6 Ibrahim Diarra, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 4 Christophe Samson, 3 Karena Wihongi, 2 Brice Mach, 1 Saimone Taumoepeau.
Replacements: 16 Mathieu Bonello, 17 Yannick Forestier, 18 Joe Tekori, 19 Janie Bornman, 20 Romain Teulet, 21 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 22 Paul Bonnefond, 23 Mihaïta Lazar.
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|Friday 19th September|
|19:45||Brive vs Toulon|
|Saturday 20th September|
|15:00||Castres vs Oyonnax|
|15:00||Grenoble vs Bayonne|
|15:00||La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles|
|15:00||Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse|
|15:00||Clermont Auvergne vs Lyon|
|19:45||Montpellier vs Stade Francais|
|Saturday 27th September|
|16:00||Bayonne vs Toulouse|
|16:00||Brive vs Bordeaux-Begles|
|16:00||Toulon vs Montpellier|
|16:00||Stade Francais vs La Rochelle|
|16:00||Oyonnax vs Clermont Auvergne|
|16:00||Lyon vs Castres|
|16:00||Grenoble vs Racing Metro Paris|
|Saturday 4th October|
|15:00||Toulouse vs Stade Francais|
|15:00||Bayonne vs Montpellier|
|15:00||Bordeaux-Begles vs Clermont Auvergne|
|15:00||Castres vs Grenoble|
|15:00||La Rochelle vs Lyon|
|15:00||Oyonnax vs Toulon|
|15:00||Racing Metro Paris vs Brive|
|Saturday 11th October|
|16:00||Clermont Auvergne vs La Rochelle|
|16:00||Bordeaux-Begles vs Castres|
|16:00||Toulouse vs Toulon|
|16:00||Grenoble vs Brive|
|Sunday 14th September|
|Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 Montpellier|
|Saturday 13th September|
|Toulon 24 - 28 Stade Francais|
|Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont Auvergne|
|Bayonne 23 - 6 Brive|
|Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble|
|Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 Lyon|
|Friday 12th September|
|La Rochelle 41 - 16 Castres|
|Saturday 6th September|
|Toulon 18 - 13 Bordeaux-Begles|
|Stade Francais 34 - 29 Bayonne|
|Grenoble 30 - 12 La Rochelle|
|Lyon 26 - 23 Oyonnax|
|Clermont Auvergne 32 - 6 Racing Metro Paris|
|Brive 26 - 19 Toulouse|
|Friday 5th September|
|Montpellier 43 - 10 Castres|
|Saturday 30th August|
|Racing Metro Paris 17 - 10 Toulon|
|Grenoble 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles|
|Oyonnax 33 - 6 Stade Francais|
|Lyon 24 - 6 Brive|
|Castres 30 - 6 Bayonne|
|La Rochelle 37 - 25 Toulouse|
|Friday 29th August|
|Clermont Auvergne 20 - 21 Montpellier|
|Saturday 23rd August|
|Stade Francais 23 - 20 Lyon|
|Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax|
|Bordeaux-Begles 30 - 21 Racing Metro Paris|
|Toulon 60 - 19 La Rochelle|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com