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Castres move into last four
One-sided victory over Montpellier in Toulouse
Castres booked themselves a Top 14 semi-final against Toulouse after beating a poor Montpellier side 31-15 at Stade Ernest-Wallon on Friday.
There was only ever one side in it as Castres, who were looking for revenge after going down to Montpol at this same stage last year, shot out of the blocks and took a stranglehold of the game.
They had an early lead through a Pierre Bernard penalty but moments later they suffered a blow when scrum-half Thierry Lacrampe was sent to the sin-bin after he slapped down the ball at the base of a ruck.
Montpellier did not take advantage of their extra man and, in fact, found themselves 6-0 down when Romain Teulet slotted on 15 minutes.
Castres continued to press and it was no surprise when Lacrampe put Barnard through a gap to cross, Teulet's extras made it 13-0 with a quarter of the match gone.
Then a sudden and unexpected shift occurred at Stade Ernest Wallon as, from a charge-down of Mamuka Gorgodze, Montpol almost crossed.
First the hefty Georgian gathered the loose ball and then offloaded to Francois Trinh-Duc, who was unfortunately for them hauled down five metres short before Castres offended. Martin Bustos Moyano made it 13-3.
Montpellier lost Mikael De Marco to the sin-bin for holding Lacrampe. Barnard made it 16-3 but then came the moment that gave Montpellier the shot in the arm they desperately needed as number eight Alex Tulou stayed strong to power over in the left-hand corner.
Teulet responded from the tee though following Bustos-Moyano's missed conversion from the touchline as the teams went in at half-time in Toulouse with Castres ahead by 19-8.
Montpellier needed the first score after the break but once again shot themselves in the foot as Barnard duly punished them from distance. He was at it again with 50 minutes gone to make the scoreline look almost unassailable at 25-8.
What gave Montpellier a glimmer of hope was when Castres lock Tekori was shown red for a high tackle on Lacrampe. That led to Fakata crashing over for a converted try with 11 minutes to go. But when Teulet and then Barnard kicked from the tee, Castres' win was secured.