Thomas hopes for Racing 92 redemption in Top 14 semi-finals

The Top 14 descends on Lyon this weekend for the semi-finals as the best in French rugby go head to head.

The Top 14 descends on Lyon this weekend for the semi-finals as the best in French rugby go head to head.

Friday night at the Groupama Stadium sees regular season table-toppers Montpellier face Lyon while on Saturday, European runners-up Racing 92 take on Castres.

And there are a number of French stars from the NatWest 6 Nations in action across the double-header.   Montpellier v Lyon   Vern Cotter’s Montpellier side finished the season on top of the pile and have had the best part of three weeks off to prepare for this clash.

By contrast, Lyon had to come through a dramatic clash with Toulon in the barrages last weekend just to make it this far.

But what they lack in freshness, they will make up for in home support in the city’s football team’s stadium across town.

Pierre Mignoni’s side held on to a 19-19 draw to down Toulon in the previous round, winning the match by virtue of having outscored their rivals two tries to one after extra time.

And France coach Jacques Brunel will have his eyes firmly trained on Felix Lambey in the Lyon second row, who was called up for the New Zealand tour this summer.

Louis Picamoles will be at No.8 for Montpellier but winger Benjamin Fall is the sole France call-up in their matchday 23 as they look to get back to the final for the first time since 2011.   Racing 92 v Castres   The 14 men of Castres had to dig deep to knock out Toulouse last weekend.

Their reward for that heroic effort is a meeting with France’s in-form team Racing 92, who came within a whisker of downing Leinster and becoming champions of Europe.

Teddy Thomas will carry the chief threat out wide for the capital side while Remi Tales again steps in at fly-half in the absence of Dan Carter and Patrick Lambie.

The front row of Eddy Ben Arous, Camille Chat and Cedate Gomes Sa will all be heading to New Zealand this summer, as will flanker Bernard Le Roux.

?Castres will be hoping for a big showing from skipper Mathieu Babillot, who is also heading Down Under to take on the All Blacks this summer.