Toulouse beat Castres to seal Top 14 final spot

Former champions Toulouse secured their place in the final of the French Top 14 championship with a 24-15 semi-final win over Castres on Saturday.

The final will be held next Saturday, with Toulouse set to meet the winner of the second semi-final between Clermont and Toulon on Sunday.

While Castres came into this match dreaming of making their first Top 14 final, reality -- in the shape of a dominant second-half display by Toulouse -- quashed their hopes of appearing at the Stade de France in Paris next Saturday.

Toulouse are the reigning champions and this latest win, in what was their 19th consecutive semi-final, means they will contend their fifth final since 2002.

In a match shorn of tries, the boot of Luke McAlister proved decisive. The New Zealander kicked 18 points and teammate Lionel Beauxis adding six, while Pierre Bernard and Romain Teulet shared the points for Castres.

"I'm really happy, everyone in the dressing room was," said McAlister.

"Tonight, my kicking was good. I haven't had that kind of success with the boot lately."

Clermont, meanwhile, will face Toulon hoping to earn the chance to contend a second title having finished top of the pile in 2010.

Having finished the regular season in second place and qualified for their sixth consecutive semi-final, they go into Sunday's fixture against big-spending Toulon as favourites.

Toulon, whose last title goes back to 1992, suffered regular season defeats of 17-0 and 25-19 to Clermont, the second result prompting Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal to claim his side had been "sodomised by the referees".

Boudjellal's ref rant earned him a 130-day ban from the dugout, handed down by France's National Rugby League (LNR), but he will be free to return to familiar surroundings on Sunday.


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