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Seventh heaven for Castres after comeback at Clermont

By Matthew Scott
Clermont and Castres meet in Top 14

Castres roared back from 17 points down to beat Clermont 31-27 and extend their Top 14 winning run to seven games.

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Christophe Urios’ men have marched into contention at the end of 2017 and rounded out the year with a stirring comeback victory, which leaves them second in the table.

Morgan Parra kicked 11 points in the first half, with tries from Aurelien Rougerie and Remy Grosso giving Clermont a healthy 21-10 lead at the break, which was extended by two more successful efforts from the tee by Parra in the second half when Castres were down to 14 men with Anthony Jelonch in the sin-bin.

However, Castres scored a pair of tries in the space of four minutes to turn momentum in their favour, before Ludovic Radosavljevic converted his own score with eight minutes to go to set up a grandstand finish.

Maama Vaipulu thought he had completed the turnaround after twisting his way over the line, but the video referee deemed he had not grounded the ball. But Radosavljevic immediately after took advantage of ponderous Clermont defending to pick and run and score the winning try.

Clermont played on way beyond the 80, but wave after wave of yellow shirts crashed into Castres’ rock-solid defence, with victory seen out after eight minutes of bruising extra action, in which Radosavljevic was yellow-carded for a cynical, but successful, try-saving obstruction of Nick Abendanon.

Fourteen-man Lyon held firm to see off Pau 35-23 and cling on to the play-off places.

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Lionel Beauxis scored 18 first-half points, including a try, as Lyon dominated early on at Stade de Gerland, but Francisco Gomez-Kodela was dismissed on the stroke of half-time for a high hit to threaten the hosts’ 10-point advantage.

However, Pau number eight Steffon Armitage saw yellow for obstruction six minutes into the second half, and Lyon took advantage of the even numbers as Thibaut Regard and Liam Gill went over to ensure a first win in six domestic games for the Wolves.

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J
Jon 1 hours ago
British & Irish Lions free agent open to Super Rugby switch

There are a couple of teams who could use a stop gap experienced head. Blues - I’m not sure the Blues have signed a replacement for Caleb Tangitau (if he hasn’t been let go to make room for Barrett) yet, or whether Reiko is going on sabbatical and/or will remain in the squad. With exciting young French player Xavi Taele looking destined for higher honors in black, talented breakthrough rookie Cory Evan’s, and a couple of utilities, in AJ Lam and Bryce Heem(even Clarke?), all trying to learn the midfield trade, Williams could be a great aid. The Blues signed key English center Joe Marchant before he was raised to that level, and were possibly in the hunt to bring back the dependable Tele’a from the Highlanders. Possible the main squeeze which would put to bed any signing here would be the battle at 10 with Beauden’s return, and the forcing of Plummer back into the midfield. Hurricanes - Jordie Barrett is off to Leinster for a sabbatical next year but the more likely signing would be Billy’s brother back in the team. The Hurricanes are light on the outside with the loss of Salesi Rayasi to the Top 14 and if no quality is found to back up Kini Naholo, the midfield of Sullivan or Proctors could find themselves on the wing and space for a leader to show the Hurricanes three All Black midfield hopefuls (Higgins, Proctor, Umaga-Jensen) how its done. Highlanders - Rotation is high as usual at the Highlanders and versatility remains a strength with a lot of the squad. With compatriot Rhys Patchell signing a move to the JRLO, the passing of outside back Connor Garden-Bachop, and confirmed departure of Argentine wing Martin Bogado, the versatility of many of the young backups in the squad could see a veteran 12 like Williams being a strong partner for the robust Tele’a. With hope that the other Umaga-Jensen brother can force him out of the starting lineup, and shifting the sides general Sam Gilbert back into 10, the off-contract midfielder might seen as the perfect option for a squad still looking to fill one back spot.

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