Kockott breaks Clermont fortress

Rory Kockott contributed 17 points to Castres' upset 22-16 win over Clermont in their Top 14 play-off at Marcel Michelin.

Not only did he kick five penalties and conversion, but he played a major part in the try scored by centre Remi Lamerat. Kockott broke from a ruck, made good ground into the Clermont 22 before offloading well to Rodrigo Capo Ortego. When he went to ground, Kockott's quick recycle opened the way to the tryline.

Their victory brings to an end Clermont's incredible 77-game, four-year record unbeaten at home.

Castres, the defending Top 14 champions, came into this game as underdogs, but they produced a monumental defensive effort, never more so when they were reduced to 13 men by two yellow cards for seven minutes. Capo Ortega was sent to the sin-bin for making a tackle without retreating 10m when Gerhard Vosloo tried to play a penalty quickly and then three minutes later Max Evans was pinned for a deliberate knock-on. But during that time, Clermont added just three points.

Clermont took a 9-6 lead into the break thanks to Brock James' penalties, but Kockott gained the ascendancy with two more penalties before engineering the try. With the conversion, they went 22-9 ahead

Clermont were able to hit back with a try by No 8 Damien Chouly, but it was a target too far.

Castres will now face Montpellier in the semi-final in Lille on 17 May, while Racing Métro, who beat Toulouse with seven penalties by Jonathan Sexton, meet Toulon on 16 May.

Clermont – Try: Damien Chouly. Conversion: Brock James. Penalties: James (3).
Castres – Try: Remi Lamerat. Conversion: Rory Kockott. Penalties: Kockott (5).

Clermont – 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 Aurelien Rougerie, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Naipolioni Nalaga, 10 Brock James, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Gerhard Vosloo, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Thomas Domingo
Subs: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Julien Pierre, 19 Fritz Lee, 20 Thierry Lacrampe, 21 Michael Delany, 22 Noa Nakaitaci, 23 Clement Ric.

Castres – 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Remy Grosso, 13 Romain Cabannes, 12 Remi Lamerat, 11 Max Evans , 10 Remi Tales, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Yannick Caballero, 6 Piula Faasalele, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Mathieu Bonello , 1 Saimone Taumoepeau.
Subs: 16 Brice Mach, 17 Yannick Forestier , 18 Christophe Samson, 19 Jan Bornman, 20 Cedric Garcia, 21 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 22 Seremaia Bai, 23 Mihaita Lazar.

Photo: Thierry Zoccolan/AFP Photo