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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.
|Click here for more betting|
|Friday 22nd August|
|18:45||Toulouse vs Castres|
|Saturday 23rd August|
|12:45||Brive vs Clermont Auvergne|
|16:30||Bayonne vs Oyonnax|
|16:30||Bordeaux-Begles vs Racing Metro Paris|
|16:30||Montpellier vs Grenoble|
|16:30||Toulon vs La Rochelle|
|18:45||Stade Francais vs Lyon|
|Friday 29th August|
|18:45||Clermont Auvergne vs Montpellier|
|Saturday 30th August|
|12:45||La Rochelle vs Toulouse|
|16:30||Castres vs Bay Of Plenty|
|16:30||Grenoble vs Bordeaux-Begles|
|16:30||Oyonnax vs Stade Francais|
|16:30||Lyon vs Brive|
|18:45||Racing Metro Paris vs Toulon|
|Friday 5th September|
|18:45||Montpellier vs Castres|
|Saturday 6th September|
|12:45||Brive vs Toulouse|
|15:00||Clermont Auvergne vs Racing Metro Paris|
|16:30||Stade Francais vs Bayonne|
|16:30||Grenoble vs La Rochelle|
|16:30||Lyon vs Oyonnax|
|18:45||Toulon vs Bordeaux-Begles|
|Saturday 13th September|
|16:00||Toulouse vs Clermont Auvergne|
|16:00||Bayonne vs Brive|
|16:00||Bordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier|
|16:00||Oyonnax vs Grenoble|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com