Preview: Oyonnax v Toulouse

Date published: March 5 2015

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Christophe Urios might not think Oyonnax are play-off contenders but a home win over Toulouse will see them jump into the top six.

That position might not last all weekend, but Urios' side are in a rich vein of form, having won four of their last five games.

Their recent run has been enough to fire them up to eighth in the table, and while they remain outsiders to reach the play-offs, they certainly can't be written off.

For Urios it must be a strange situation. Last time out his side eventually saw off Castres, leaving the 2013 champions and the club he will join at the end of the season, on the brink of relegation.

The former prop has strong ties to Castres, but it must be difficult to look at a potential play-off team that you are abandoning to likely return to ProD2.

Because barring a disaster, Oyonnax will survive this season. After a run of losses in September and October that included two straight defeats at home, they were looking particularly vulnerable.

Since then Charles Mathon has turned back into the fortress it was last season, and they will fancy their chances of continuing that run against Toulouse.

Guy Novès' side have slowly but surely edged their way back up the table, with hard-earned wins over Castres and Lyon enough to push them into fifth.

Still, the fact that both of the promoted sides have picked up losing bonus points at Ernest Wallon shows Toulouse aren't quite firing, and they will head to the east of France without skipper Thierry Dusautoir and locks Yoann Maestri and Patricio Albacete.

With the freezing conditions and heavy pitch, the game is unlikely to be free-flowing, and as a result, Novès has gone for a powerful pack full of big ball-carriers.

The most notable return is that of Louis Picamoles, shifted to the flank but surely eager to prove a point to Philippe Saint-André in a back row that also features Gillian Galan and Imanol Harinordoquy.

Toby Flood is absent but Luke McAlister returns in his place and Toulouse know a win would put them back in the race for a semi-final spot, or at least a home quarter-final.

As for Oyonnax, well their key man is back, Benjamin Urdapilleta fit again to take his place at fly-half. The architect of the away wins at Stade Français and Racing-Métro will be charged with doing the same again on Friday night.

The teams:

Oyonnax: 15 Florian Denos, 14 Silvere Tian, 13 Pierre Aguillon, 12 Roimata Hansell-Pune (c), 11 Yves Donguy, 10 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 9 Agustin Figuerola, 8 Viliami Ma'afu, 7 Olivier Missoup, 6 Valentin Ursache, 5 Damien Lagrange, 4 Leon Power, 3 Marc Clerc, 2 Jody Jenneker, 1 Antoine Tichit
Replacements: 16 Paula Ngauamo, 17 Ruaan Du Preez, 18 Pedrie Wannenburg, 19 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 20 Fabien Cibray, 21 Regis Lespinas, 22 Hemani Paea, 23 Soane Tonga'uiha

Toulouse: 15 Maxime Médard, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Gaël Fickou, 11 Timoci Matanavou, 10 Luke McAlister, 9 Jean-Marc Doussain, 8 Gillian Galan, 7 Imanol Harinordoquy, 6 Louis Picamoles, 5 Romain Millo-Chluski, 4 Joe Tekori, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp
Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Edwin Maka, 19 Yannick Nyanga, 20 Sébastien Bezy, 21 Clément Poitrenaud, 22 Yann David, 23 Neemia Tialata

Date: Friday, 06 March
Venue: Stade Charles Mathon, Oyonnax
Kick-off: 20:45 local (19:45 GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite

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