Bai's drop-goal guides Castres past Montpellier
May 17, 2014
Pierre Berard claims a high ball in a tense affair © Getty Images
Castres will face Toulon in the Top 14 final after they needed extra-time to beat Montpellier 22-19 in Lille.
With both teams scoring one try apiece, it was the boot of Rory Kockott and Seremaia Bai's extra-time drop-goal that saw the champions march on following a see-saw of a game.
Montpellier got off to the worst possible start when Rene Ranger was sin-binned for tackling Romain Cabannes after just 13 seconds. After Kockott and Trinh-Duc exchanged penalties, Remi Grosso was dispatched for a similar offence but Castres could not take advantage of the extra man. They had to wait until the 30th minute for the first try of the game came when Antonie Claassen spun off the back of a ruck to dot the ball down. But Montpellier were soon back in the game when Ranger snuffled up a superb offload from Remy Lauret to go over under the posts. Castres had a chance to go into the break with a bigger lead than 13-10 but Pierre Berard's heroic try-saving tackle on Max Evans kept the game a three-point match.
Come the second 40, Kockott and Trinh-Duc continued to exchange penalties and with the game locked at 19-19 heading into the final stages of the match, Castres had two chances to win the match but Kockott's long range penalty and Remi Tales' attempted drop-goal both failed to find the target.
With the game now in extra-time, the weary legs offered more opportunity and Lamerat went close for Castres only to drop the ball over the line as he stretched desperately to dot it down. Benoit Paillaugue and Kockott missed long-range penalties but much to Castres' delight, Bai struck a drop-goal from 30 metres out to give them a narrow three-point lead as the hooter sounded for the end of the first 10 minutes in extra-time.
Kockott had a chance at the start of the second-half of extra-time to stretch Castres' lead but his penalty fell short. In the end Montpellier were left to rue not taking the three points on offer in the dying embers of the match as they gambled for a five-metre lineout. Castres held them out to book a date in Paris on May 31 in a match that will be a repeat of the 2013 final.
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