Preview: Stade Francais v Toulouse

Date published: April 23 2015

During the 2000s the battle of the Stades was the highlight of the French rugby calendar, and there is plenty riding on Friday's match.

While the fixture has lost its lustre to some extent, this is the pick of the games this weekend, as well as being a potential dress rehearsal for the play-offs.

Fifth-placed Toulouse travel to third-placed Stade Français with just four points separating the two sides as the Top 14 enters its home stretch.

A year after collapsing in the closing weeks, Gonzalo Quesada's team look to have learnt their lesson, and they picked up two valuable points with a draw at La Rochelle last time out.

That followed a thumping win over Clermont in their last game at Jean Bouin, and the man in form is clearly centre Jonathan Danty.

The youngster has regularly been likened to Mathieu Bastareaud, and it's more than just the colour of their skin and the fact they started at Stade.

Like Bastareaud, Danty has the breakdown skills of a back row, and secured priceless turnover after priceless turnover against La Rochelle.

Unlike his predecessor in the Stade 13 jersey however, Danty possesses a turn of speed that makes him more than just a crash ball merchant in attack.

He's probably a long shot to make France's World Cup squad, but he'll pose Toulouse plenty of problems on Friday.

Guy Novès' side are on a fine recent run of their own, having won six of their last seven in the Top 14, including away wins at Castres and Toulon (in Marseille).

Still, their laboured home win over Bayonne last time out showed that all is still not quite right with France's most successful club and they don't quite look like title contenders.

A win in Paris would change that, and give them a real shot at a home play-off game.

That looked beyond the realms of possibility when the two teams met earlier this season, with Toulouse ending a five-match losing streak thanks to a 22-10 win to move out of the relegation spots.

It's hard to imagine Stade being quite as flat on this occasion, with their own hopes of an automatic semi-final very much alive as they try to chase down the Champions Cup finalists.

The teams:

Stade Français: 15 Djibril Camara, 14 Waisale Nayacalevu, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 10 Jules Plisson, 11 Julien Arias, 9 Julien Tomas, 8 Sergio Parisse, 7 Raphael Lakafia, 6 Antoine Burban, 5 Alexandre Flanquart, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Laurent Sempere, 1 Heinke van der merwe
Replacements:16 Remi Bonfils, 17 Zurabi Zhvania, 18 Gerhard Mostert, 19 Jono Ross, 20 Jerome Fillol, 21 Morne Steyn, 22 Jeremy Sinzelle, 23 Davit Kubriashvili.

Toulouse: 15 Maxime Medard, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Toby Flood, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Jean Marc Doussain, 9 Sebastien Bezy, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Thierry Dusautoir, 6 Yannick Nyanga, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Joe Tekori, 3 Nemiah Tialata, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Patricio Albacete, 19 Gregory Lamboley, 20 Luke Mcalister, 21 Yann David, 22 Timoci Matanavou, 23 Census Johnston.

Date: Friday, April 24
Venue: Stade Jean Bouin, Paris
Kick-off: 20:45 local (18:45 GMT)
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz
Assistant referees: Thierry Mallet, Thomas Dejean
TMO: Hervé Dubes