Top 14 Preview: Round 2

Date published: August 27 2016

The first weekend of the Top 14 season saw a number of surprises including defeats for both of last year’s finalists and two drawn matches.

In Round Two Toulon will have the chance to put things right immediately away to Pau before Grenoble, another team in need of a reaction, host La Rochelle.

Top 14 champions Racing 92 host Pro D2 champions Lyon later on Saturday, while fellow promoted side Bayonne entertain Castres.

Stade Français produced probably the performance of the round but now have to travel to bête noire Brive before Saturday’s closing encounter between Toulouse and Bordeaux.

Finally on Sunday two potential title contenders meet in Montpellier as Clermont come to town.


Pau v Toulon
Grenoble v La Rochelle
Racing 92 v Lyon
Bayonne v Castres
Brive v Stade Français
Toulouse v Bordeaux-Bègles


Montpellier v Clermont

Pau v Toulon
Stade du Hameau, Pau

Diego Dominguez was fuming at his players for their lack of intelligence in defeat to Bayonne, but it will have been nothing compared to Simon Mannix’s frustration at Pau.

Up against 14 men for more than an hour against Castres following Rory Kockott’s red card, Pau didn’t even come close to taking advantage, missing out on even a losing bonus point.

They were strong at home last season, but a Toulon team who have just been stung on the road is far from the ideal game to bounce back.

Toulon are obviously without a number of their key internationals, with Matt Giteau and Duane Vermeulen both facing extensive spells on the sidelines.

This game should be particularly spicy for a couple of individuals with Steffon Armitage facing his former club, while Carl Hayman is now coaching Pau after locking down the Toulon scrum until retirement.

The teams:

Pau: 15 Tom Taylor, 14 Louis Dupichot, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Jale Vatubua, 11 Watisoni Votu, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Thibault Daubagna, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Paddy Butler, 5 Julien Pierre, 4 Abdellatif Boutaty, 3 Sylvain Charlet, 2 Mehdi Boundjema, 1 Jérémy Hurou
Replacements: 16 Quentin Lespiaucq, 17 Chris King, 18 Daniel Ramsay, 19 Fabrice Metz, 20 Charlie Malié, 21 Thierry Lacrampe, 22 Pierrick Gunther, 23 Malik Hamadache

Toulon: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Maxime Mermoz, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Jimmy Yobo, 10 François Trinh-Duc, 9 Eric Escande, 8 Charles Ollivon, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Juan Smith, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Juandre Kruger, 3 Levan Chilachava, 2 Jean-Charles Orioli, 1 Florian Fresia
Replacements: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Laurent Delboulbès, 18 Samu Manoa, 19 Mamuka Gorgodze, 20 Juan-Martín Fernandez-Lobbe, 21 Pierre Bernard, 22 Jonathan Pélissié, 23 Xavier Chiocci

Last year’s result: Toulon won 25-9
Kick-off: 14:45 local (13:45 GMT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal

Grenoble v La Rochelle
Stade des Alpes, Grenoble

Grenoble travelled to Stade Français with big ambitions for the new season but were on the wrong end of a big defeat to the Parisians.

Bernard Jackman put his faith in young half-back pairing Lilian Saseras and Gilles Bosch, but it looks as though Jonathan Wisniewski will be as important as ever. La Rochelle showed their fighting spirit to recover from a slow start and grab a draw at home to Clermont.

With Victor Vito on his way, Les Maritimes are getting closer to the team that will look to challenge for a top half finish at least, and Brock James will be hoping the interception he threw against his former team is just a mental error he had to get out of his system.

Having said that, the away team hasn’t managed to win a fixture between these two since 2008, so the signs are good for Grenoble.

The teams:

Grenoble: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Armand Batlle, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Nigel Hunt, 11 Sisa Waqa, 10 Jonathan Wisniewski, 9 David Mélé, 8 Dylan Hayes, 7 Steven Setephano, 6 Jonathan Best, 5 Aly Muldowney, 4 Ben Hand, 3 Walter Desmaison, 2 Loick Jammes, 1 Sona Taumalolo
Replacements: 16 Laurent Bouchet, 17 Alexandre Dardet, 18 Mathias Marie, 19 Henry Vanderglas, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Gilles Bosch, 22 Edward Sawailau, 23 Dayna Edwards

La Rochelle: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Vincent Rattez, 13 Zack Holmes, 12 Pierre Aguillon, 11 Steeve Barry, 10 Brock James, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Jone Qovu, 7 Zeno Kieft, 6 Kevin Gourdon, 5 Leandro Cedaro, 4 Jason Eaton, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Hika Forbes, 1 Mike Corbel
Replacements: 16 Maxime Gau, 17 Vincent Pelo, 18 Damien Lagrange, 19 Romain Sazy, 20 Arthur Retière, 21 Anthony Fuertes, 22 Paul Jordaan, 23 Mohamed Boughanmi

Last year’s result: Grenoble won 39-23
Kick-off: 18:30 local (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Tual Trainini

Racing 92 v Lyon
Stade Yves du Manoir, Colombes

The battle of last year’s champions seems the obvious opportunity for Racing to put right last week’s disappointing loss at Bordeaux.

It was always going to be a tough start for the two Laurents, and they won’t be overly worried at the team looking a little short of cohesion after such a short summer.

This game will see them take on a Lyon side who were already back in pre-season before Racing claimed their title; although their numerous Toulon recruits obviously hadn’t yet arrived.

Racing will expect to win though, and with the returning Maxime Machenaud and their wealth of talent at their disposal anything else would be a surprise.

Lyon want to stay up, but after only drawing at home to Brive, a trip to Racing is far from ideal.

The teams:

Racing 92: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Henry Chavancy, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Yannick Nyanga, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Francois van der Merwe, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Eddy Ben Arous
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Viliamu Afatia, 18 Ali Williams, 19 Olivier Missoup, 20 Xavier Chauveau, 21 Benjamin Dambielle, 22 Albert Vulivuli, 23 Luc Ducalcon

Lyon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Toby Arnold, 13 Mike Harris, 12 Théo Belan, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Freddie Michalak, 9 Agustin Figuerola, 8 Carl Fearns, 7 Virgile Bruni, 6 Julien Puricelli, 5 Maselino Paulo, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Mickael Ivaldi, 1 Alexandre Menini
Replacements: 16 Cameron Mapusua, 17 Albertus Buckle, 18 Taiasina Tuifua, 19 Deon Fourie, 20 Baptiste Couilloud, 21 Thibaut Regard, 22 Henry Clunies-Ross, 23 Stéphane Clément

Previous result: Racing won 28-11 in 2014
Kick-off: 18:30 local (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Pierre Brousset

Bayonne v Castres
Stade Jean Dauger, Bayonne

Bayonne marked a triumphant return to the Top 14 with their victory over Toulon, and they will relish a second straight home game against Castres.

The star man on Sunday was flanker Jean Monribot, who was everywhere in his blue scrum cap, and looks to be continuing his fine form from last season.

If Monribot continues to shine, Bayonne will fancy their chances of survival, particularly if they can build on a strong start.

But Castres were impressive in their own way last weekend. Losing Rory Kockott with less than a quarter of the game gone against Pau, they managed a comfortable win to get off to a strong start.

With Kockott out, Antoine Dupont will get his chance at nine, and while France aren’t lacking for scrum-half options, the former Under-20s star has the talent to establish himself very quickly.

The teams:

Bayonne: 15 Martín Bustos Moyano, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Felix Le Bourhis, 12 Julien Jané, 11 Romain Martial, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Guillaume Rouet, 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Jean-Jo Marmouyet, 6 Jean Monribot, 5 Adam Jaulhac, 4 Tom Donnelly, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Grégory Arganèse, 1 Davit Khinchagashvili
Replacements: 16 Manu Leiataua, 17 Jérôme Schuster, 18 Dion Oulai, 19 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 20 Emmanuel Saubusse, 21 Gabi Lovabalavu, 22 Julien Tisseron, 23 Richard Choirat

Castres: 15 Geoffrey Palis, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Thomas Combezou, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 David Smith, 10 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Alex Tulou, 7 Alexandre Bias, 6 Mathieu Babillot, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 4 Loïc Jacquet, 3 Damien Tussac, 2 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 1 Antoine Tichit
Replacements: 16 Brice Mach, 17 Mihaita Lazar, 18 Victor Moreaux, 19 Sitiveni Mafi, 20 Julien Seron, 21 Afusima Taumopeau, 22 Julien Dumora, 23 Yohan Montès

Previous result: Bayonne won 21-19 in 2015
Kick-off: 18:30 local (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Maxime Chalon

Brive v Stade Français
Stade Amédée Domenech, Brive

Following a nightmare season, Stade Français got off to a dream start in dismantling Grenoble, and there is no doubt they have the talent to match any side on their day.

The problem this weekend is they travel to Brive, where they haven’t won in a decade, and where last year their scrum was humiliated.

Nicolas Godignon’s men remain incredibly tough to beat on their own patch, and will challenge the Parisians up front.

But Gonzalo Quesada’s side look to be in form, and in Jules Plisson, had a fly-half in form last week.

The teams:

Brive: 15 Gaëtan Germain, 14 Sevanaia Galala, 13 Arnaud Mignardi, 12 Chris Tuatara-Morrison, 11 Benito Masilevu, 10 Matthieu Ugalde, 9 Teddy Iribaren, 8 Fabien Sanconnie, 7 Saïd Hirèche, 6 Petrus Hauman, 5 Peet Marais, 4 Julien Ledevedec, 3 Damien Jourdain, 2 Guillaume Ribes, 1 Karlen Asieshvili
Replacements: 16 François Da Ros, 17 Lucas Pointud, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 20 Jean-Baptiste Péjoine, 21 Thomas Laranjeira, 22 Benjamin Lapeyre, 23 Kevin Buys

Stade Français: 15 Djibril Camara, 14 Jérémy Sinzelle, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Paul Williams, 11 Waisea, 10 Jules Plisson, 9 Julien Dupuy, 8 Sergio Parisse, 7 Sylvain Nicolas 6 Willem Alberts, 5 Alexandre Flanquart, 4 Paul Gabrillagues, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Laurent Sempéré, 1 Zurabi Zhvania
Replacements: 16 Rémi Bonfils, 17 Aled de Malmanche, 18 Hugh Pyle, 19 Antoine Burban, 20 Clément Daguin, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Hugo Bonneval, 23 Rabah Slimani

Last year’s result: Brive won 22-13
Kick-off: 18:30 local (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Cedric Marchat

Toulouse v Bordeaux-Bègles
Stade Ernest Wallon, Toulouse

Over the last five games between Toulouse and Bordeaux the biggest winning margin has been two points, so this should be another tight affair.

Both teams got off to winning starts against play-off sides, Toulouse proving too strong for Montpellier, while Bordeaux out-kicked Racing 92.

For the visitors this represents a chance to get ahead of where they need to be for a play-off spot, but Toulouse looked strong last week.

There is no place for Ian Madigan, the hero against Racing, in the Bordeaux starting line-up, with former Toulouse fly-half Lionel Beauxis getting the nod instead.

But Raphaël Ibanez’s side will still fancy their chances of springing a surprise on the road after drawing their last game in the Pink City.

The teams:

Toulouse: 15 Yoann Huget, 14 Paul Perez, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Gaël Fickou, 11 Alexis Palisson, 10 Jean-Marc Doussain, 9 Sébastien Bézy, 8 Tala Grey, 7 Piula Fa’aselele, 6 Thierry Dusautoir, 5 Richie Gray, 4 Yoann Maestri, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp
Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Cyril Baille, 18 Joe Tekori, 19 Grégory Lamboley, 20 Gillian Galan, 21 Samuel Marques, 22 Sofiane Guitoune, 23 Dorian Aldegheri

Bordeaux-Bègles: 15 Jean-Marcellin Buttin, 14 Geoffrey Cros, 13 Jayden Spence, 12 Julien Rey, 11 Blair Connor, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Loann Goujon, 7 Hugh Chalmers, 6 Luke Braid, 5 Cyril Cazeaux, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Marc Clerc, 2 Ronan Chambord, 1 Jefferson Poirot
Replacements: 16 Beñat Auzqui, 17 Sébastien Taofifénua, 18 Johan Aliouat, 19 Marco Tauleigne, 20 Julien Audy, 21 Josaia Vakacegu, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Vadim Cobilas

Last year’s result: The sides drew 13-13
Kick-off: 20:45 local (19:45 GMT)
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz

Montpellier v Clermont
Altrad Stadium, Montpellier

Clermont start off the season with three straight away games, and having drawn at La Rochelle, will be looking to get a few more points on the board at Montpellier.

Jake White’s men were underwhelming in their opening game, struggling to reel in Toulouse after they opened up a lead around the hour-mark.

The question will certainly be at fly-half, where Ben Botica now has a big role to play, but Montpellier need to show they have more than brute force.

Clermont, meanwhile, have plenty of depth heading into this season, but allowed La Rochelle to claim two points last week that they should never have been able to. This will give them the chance to put that right.

Last year’s result: Montpellier won 24-19
Kick-off: 16:15 local (15:15 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gauzère