Preview: La Rochelle v Stade Francais

Date published: April 9 2015

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Two of the form teams in the Top 14 meet at Marcel Deflandre on Friday night as La Rochelle welcome Stade Français.

While Stade produced arguably the performance of the last round of Top 14 action, as they thumped Clermont at Jean Bouin, La Rochelle weren't far behind with a win away at Bordeaux-Bègles.

That took les Rochelais to five games unbeaten in the league, and they are now looking good to avoid relegation on their return to the top flight.

It's been an impressive run, starting with a win over Clermont back in January.

They now sit tenth overall in the Top 14, with a six-point cushion over Castres with five games to go. While that looks good in the fight for survival, their remaining home games are against Stade, Toulon and Racing-Métro, so Patrice Collazo knows the job isn't done yet.

They will take on Stade without Levani Botia, who picked up a five-week ban for his tip tackle against Bordeaux, while his centre partner Jean-Pascal Barraque is also out through injury.

Up against them will be a Stade team who openly spoke about winning the title for the first time this week, with Sergio Parisse setting his sights on a first Bouclier de Brennus in eight seasons.

While Gonzalo Quesada was quick to point out that third-placed Stade aren't yet guaranteed a play-off spot, the Parisians had already beaten Toulon home and away before their hammering of potential title rivals Clermont.

They will be without full-back Hugo Bonneval however, after his comeback from a torn ACL was pushed back following an arthroscopy this week.

It's not clear whether he will be back again this season, but it seems unlikely that he will play a major role in the remainder of their season.

Parisse is back though, having missed the win over Clermont because of a foot injury that has been bothering him since the end of the Six Nations.

The teams:

La Rochelle: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Alofa Alofa, 13 Eliott Roudil, 12 Malietoa Hingano, 11 Sereli Bobo, 10 Fabien Fortassin, 9 Julien Audy, 8 Kevin Gourdon, 7 Loann Goujon, 6 Jason Eaton, 5 Jone Qovu, 4 Romana Graham, 3 Uini Atonio (c), 2 Hikairo Forbes, 1 Thomas Synaeghel
Replacements: 16 Benjamin Geledan, 17 Jordan Seneca, 18 Leandro Cedaro, 19 Romain Sazy, 20 Julien Berger, 21 Jules Le Bail, 22 Charles Bouldoire, 23 Lekso Kaulashvili

Stade Français: 15 Djibril Camara, 14 Jérémy Sinzelle, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Julien Arias, 10 Jules Plisson, 9 Julien Dupuy, 8 Sergio Parisse, 7 Jono Ross, 6 Antoine Burban, 5 Alexandre Flanquart, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Davit Kubriashvili, 2 Laurent Sempéré, 1 Heinke van der Merwe
Replacements: 16 Rémi Bonfils, 17 Zurabi Zhvania, 18 Paul Gabrillagues, 19 Raphaël Lakafia, 20 Julien Tomas, 21 Morné Steyn, 22 Meyer Bosman, 23 Sofiane Chellat

Date: Friday, April 12
Kick-off: 20:45 local (19:45 GMT)
Venue: Stade Marcel Deflandre, La Rochelle
Referee: Salem Attalah

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