The last match day of the French rugby Top 14 ended with Perpignan and Toulon in the two top spots. Both teams have directly qualified for the championship semi-finals.
AFP - Defending champions Perpignan and big-spending Toulon made sure of their French Top 14 semi-final places on Saturday while triple European Cup winners Toulouse claimed home advantage in the play-offs.
Perpignan crushed relegated Albi 44-0 and will tackle either Toulouse or Castres on May 14 for a place in the final while Toulon, leaders at the start of the day, egded Brive 26-23 to finish second in the standings.
They will face either Clermont or Racing-Metro in their semi-final.
Perpignan ran in six tries against hapless Albi through Gregory Le Corvec (2), Rimas Alavarez-Kairelis, Jerome Porical, Jean-Philippe Grandlcaude and Philip Burger.
For Toulon, Argentine star Felipe Contepomi kicked three penalties and converted his side's two tries which came through Fijian centre Gabirieli Lovobalavu and New Zealand centre Sonny Bill Williams.
But they had to endure a nervy closing seven minutes after Horacio Agulla had scored a second try for Brive in the 73rd minute to cut the deficit to just three points.
Tongan forward Finau Maka scored a try five minutes from time to give Toulouse a 25-17 win over Castres to guarantee home advantage in the play-offs against the same opponents.
The win allowed Toulouse to leapfrog Castres into fourth spot in the table, setting up another home clash on May 7 or 8.
That game will come a week after Toulouse tackle Leinster at home in the European Cup semi-finals on May 1.
But their win on Saturday came at a cost with question marks over the fitness of a batch of players ahead of the clash with Leinster.
International back row Louis Picamoles limped off with an ankle injury while hooker William Servat was also replaced after picking up a thigh injury.
Samoan prop Census Johnston, who came on at the start of the second half only to be replaced 30 minutes later, is also doubtful because of a right knee knock.
"We will have to see how they progress during the week," said forwards coach Yannick Bru.
With the European Cup semi-final in mind, David Skrela, Florian Fritz, Romain Millo-Chluski and Vincent Clerc all started on the bench on Saturday.
Clermont wrapped up third place with a 26-19 win at Biarritz who just missed the play-offs but will face Munster in the European Cup semi-finals next weekend.
Racing-Metro slumped to a 41-17 loss against Paris rivals Stade Francais, but their place in the play-offs was already assured.
The final day of the regular season also witnessed retirements.
Former France international back Nicolas Brusque ended his professional career in front of his home fans at Biarritz, admitting defeat to a series of knee injuries.
Brusque joined Biarritz from Pau in 2001 and went on to win three championship titles for the south-west side in 2002, 2005 and 2006.
He also won 26 caps for Les Bleus, winning the Six Nations Grand Slam twice (2002, 2004).
Stade Français hooker Mathieu Blin also called it a day after 13 seasons with the club.
Date created : 2010-04-24