Preview: Clermont v Bordeaux-Bègles

Date published: March 12 2015

There are few more daunting tasks than a trip to Clermont, but struggling Bordeaux-Bègles might have picked the perfect moment.

While Raphël Ibanez's side are not at their best, having dropped only their second home game of the season last weekend, they will take on a Clermont side which has been decimated by international call-ups and injuries.

Les Jaunards are set to be without 13 members of their first team squad including their first choice half-backs, a pair of international centres and French debutant winger Noa Nakaitaci.

Beyond the Six Nations call-ups, they will also be missing the likes of Davit Zirakashvili, Viktor Kolelishvili and Julien Bardy, the first away with Georgia, and the other two injured.

While Franck Azéma is still be able to put out a very competitive team, there will certainly be less firepower on the bench than usual, against a Bordeaux side which is less hampered by international absences.

On the injury front however, Bordeaux have more than their fair share, and their problems in the three-quarters, in particular, have been a real issue. Metuisela Talebula, for all his undoubted talent, doesn't look quite at home in the centres, while the options in the back three are also very limited as a result.

With just three points separating five teams in the hunt for a play-off spot, every win is vital, and this looks like an opportunity for Bordeaux to pick up an unlikely win.

Having said that, Clermont have only been beaten at the Stade Marcel Michelin once this season, and while they weren't quite as dominant as usual against Bayonne, they remain strong favourites here.

And they will have an added incentive after being humiliated the last time the two sides met, at the Stade Chaban Delmas earlier this season. On that occasion Bordeaux were unstoppable, as they racked up a half-century worth of points. It's hard to imagine a repeat on Friday.

The teams:

Clermont: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Zac Guildford, 13 Aurélien Rougerie, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Napolioni Nalaga, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Ludovic Radosavljevic, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Alexandre Lapandry, 6 Julien Bonnaire (c), 5 Julien Pierre, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Clément Ric, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Thomas Domingo
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Etienne Falgoux, 18 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 19 Peceli Yato, 20 Thierry Lacrampe, 21 Brock James, 22 Jean-Marcellin Buttin, 23 Daniel Kotze

Bordeaux: 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Metuisela Talebula, 13 Jayden Spence, 12 Thibault Lacroix, 11 Blair Connor, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Hugh Chalmers, 6 Matthew Clarkin (c), 5 Berend Botha, 4 Julien Ledevedec, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Beñat Auzqui, 1 Laurent Delboulbès
Replacements: 16 Ole Avei, 17 Jefferson Poirot, 18 Benjamin Venter, 19 Bertrand Guiry, 20 Yann Lesgourgues, 21 Pierre Bernard, 22 Charles Brousse, 23 Albert Toetu

Date: Friday, 13 March
Venue: Stade Marcel Michelin, Clermont-Ferrand
Kick-off: 20:45 local (19:45 GMT)
Referee: Sami Attalah