Until then, the logic is respected: Castres, first in the regular phase, qualified for the final of the Top 14 thanks to its victory at the end of the suspense, Friday June 17, over Toulouse (24-18), holding title, in the semi-finals in Nice, in a derby atmosphere.
It did not escape the Tarnais that on the road to their last coronation in 2018, they had already eliminated Stade Toulousain, defending champion. The CO will face, on June 24, in the final – the eighth in its history – Montpellier or Bordeaux-Bègles opposed on Saturday, also to the Allianz Riviera.
Friday evening, in the usual den of footballers from OGC Nice, rather evenly shared between red and blue supporters, the Toulousains, as during their victorious play-off against La Rochelle (33-28) last week, had no yet not printed a big pace of entry. A foot-to-the-floor start rewarded with a try – possibly attached from a forward – from the 2nde minute from international winger Matthis Lebel, who rushed into an interval inside to go flatten between the posts, facing the particularly noisy Castres kop.
Castres with courage
Dominating in conquest, the men of Ugo Mola slowly lowered their tone and let, by their indiscipline, the Castres return to the match thanks to the precise foot of the Argentinian opener Benjamin Urdapilleta. Emboldened by the two failed yellow cards for Australian giant Rory Arnold and hooker Julien Marchand, Castres, after letting the storm pass, could even have taken the lead at the break without a try denied by video to winger Geoffrey Palis (9-10).
Under a more bearable temperature than that prevailing in Occitania, the Tarn club, significantly less in demand than its opponent for several months, finally took the lead as soon as they returned from the locker room. The Uruguayan scrum half, Santiago Arata, passed in the hierarchy of Castres of the post in front of the local icon Rory Kockott, went to flatten in trickster at the level of a ruck the first test of his team (16-10, 43e).
On an individual feat by the Blues opener Romain Ntamack, whose acceleration mystified the opposing defense, Toulouse seemed to pick up the thread of his match for a time by returning to a point behind his opponent, then even taking the advantage. on a penalty from Thomas Ramos (18-16). But the CO, still as combative, tore away to force the decision in the last ten minutes and validated for good their ticket for the Stade de France thanks to a vulnerability from Urdapilleta and a new try, this time scored by the rearJulien Dumora. And then to dream of a sixth Shield of Brennus.
“The job is not finishedrecalls the three-quarter center Castres Thomas Combezou. The end is next week [en finale]. This semi-final was like our season, a tough, close match. We didn’t give up, we knew that we had to work a lot and that at one time or another, it could give way in our favor. »
White season for Toulouse
On the Toulouse side, it’s disappointment. The beautiful machine has experienced too many failures, like a checkered season which had started well before experiencing a big slump in the heart of winter in the absence of its many French internationals, retained by the Six Nations Tournament.
Stung in his pride by his heavy defeat in the semi-final of the European Cup against the Irish of Leinster (40-17) who dispossessed him of his title, the biggest winners of French rugby would have returned to their best level last week in a barrage against La Rochelle. He finally fell back into his failings against Castres.
“Our indiscipline at the start of the game cost us a little too much and allowed Castres to get back into the game”, analyzes the Toulouse coach, Ugo Mola. ” We may have been missing a few ingredients for a while, but we’re not very far either.” he concluded.
In view of the quality of the workforce, the white season is hurting Stade Toulouse. But the recruitment made for next season (Pierre-Louis Barassi, Melvyn Jaminet, Arthur Retière, Ange Capuozzo, etc.) could allow him to bounce back.