Finals matches are always irrational. The logic always escapes the actors of the meetings, who must suffer the consequences. You can go from euphoria to tension in a few seconds and lose an encounter in the same lapse of time. The first semi-final of the Top 14 between Castres and Toulouse was no exception to the rule. Until the last action, Stade Toulousain had the ability to win the match and go to the final at the Stade de France a week later. A few minutes earlier, the grip of the CO on the match was such that it was difficult to imagine such a reversal. And yet…
TOP 14. Castres. Santiago Arata, the man who eclipsed the best player in the world
At the end of the first half, while the debates were balanced and Castres began to put their game in place, the two teams returned to an observation round. Toulouse tried to put the rhythm, but came up against a defense in place. The Tarnais chained the attempted attacks, but still played with the handbrake. 10-6 for Toulouse at this time of the match. And it was an interception attempt three minutes from the break that changed the outcome of the game.
On a raise from Palis, the CO moved into the Rouge et Noir half of the field. Castres was unable to advance, and even found himself arrested. As the game unfolded, fly-half Benjamin Urdapilleta made a slow pass to his three-quarter line. His compatriot, Juan Cruz Mallia, just missed the interception. The latter would have been synonymous with a try between the posts for Toulouse, and a score of 6 to 17 after returning from the locker room.
Finally, the space left by Mallia following his barely missed intervention, allows the CO to cross the line of advantage and die 5 m from the opposing in-goal. A yellow card will follow against Julien Marchand for foul play (with a subsequent try at the start of the second act thanks to the power of the package before Castres) and three more points on the clock. And it could even end with an essay by Geoffrey Palis…
Richie Arnold’s stupid yellow card allowed Castres to revive. The brilliant inspiration of Urdapilleta a few minutes from the end, with a precise foot game for Nakosi who served inside Julien Dumora for the qualifying try, allowed Pierre-Henry Broncan’s men to kill the match . But this interception, just missed, symbolizes the dramatic side of a direct elimination match, where everything could have changed suddenly. It is undoubtedly in this that the 37th minute of the meeting is the real turning point of this semi-final.
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