Top 14 preview: Round 25

Date published: May 15 2015

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There are just two weeks remaining in the Top 14 and relegation, play-offs and semi-finals are all yet to be decided.

There is the added incentive of France's World Cup squad being named on Monday, with fringe players being given a final chance to impress Philippe Saint-André.

At the bottom Lyon are all but down before their trip to Oyonnax, while Castres host Brive and Bayonne travel to Bordeaux-Bègles.

Grenoble also need a win at home to in-form Toulouse, while Racing-Métro will be looking to bounce back against La Rochelle.

Finally Stade Français can seal a play-off place against Montpellier, with the top two, Clermont and Toulon, meeting on Sunday night.

Fixtures:

Friday
Oyonnax v Lyon

Saturday
Grenoble v Toulouse
Bordeaux-Bègles v Bayonne
Castres v Brive
La Rochelle v Racing-Métro
Stade Français v Montpellier

Sunday
Clermont v Toulon


Oyonnax v Lyon
Stade Charles Mathon, Oyonnax

It's derby time in the east of France as Oyonnax could confirm Lyon's relegation to Pro D2.

Having grabbed a late bonus point at Bordeaux-Bègles last week, Oyonnax are well-placed to make the play-offs for the first time, and they will be eyeing this game up as a chance for five points.

With a trip to Toulon on the final day, Oyonnax aren't quite home and dry yet, but given the schedules of their closest challengers, a win here might be enough for them.

It would be a remarkable achievement for Christophe Urios and his coaching staff, who will be heading to Castres at the end of the season.

His replacement will be Olivier Azam, who will see his future charges up front as he continues at Lyon until the end of the season.

It's been an underwhelming campaign for the Pro D2 champions, who got a draw last week against La Rochelle but have not won a game since the first week of January.

Last week they were effectively relegated, although theoretically they could still beat the drop with two bonus point wins, provided neither Bayonne nor Castres pick up a point in their remaining games.

Oyonnax: 15 Florian Denos, 14 Silvère Tian, 13 Pierre Aguillon, 12 Roimata Hansell Pune, 11 Alaska Taufa, 10 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 9 Fabien Cibray, 8 Viliami Ma'afu, 7 Olivier Missoup, 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 Damien Lagrange, 4 Thibault Lassalle, 3 Marc Clerc, 2 Jody Jenneker, 1 Antoine Tichit
Replacements: 16 Paula Ngauamo, 17 Ruaan du Preez, 18 Miroslav Nemecek, 19 Valentin Ursache, 20 Yohan Domenech, 21 Hemani Paea, 22 Regis Lespinas, 23 Soane Tonga'uiha

Lyon: 15 Vincent Martin, 14 Toby Arnold, 13 Paul Bonnefond, 12 Thibaut Regard, 11 Mosese Ratuvou, 10 Romain Loursac, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Masi Matadigo, 7 George Smith, 6 Steevy Cerqueira, 5 Lionel Nallet, 4 Coenie Basson, 3 Horatiu Pungea, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Jeremy Castex
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Francisco Tetaz, 18 Mickaël de Marco, 19 Simon Njewel, 20 Mathieu Lorée, 21 Francois Viljoen, 22 Lachie Munro, 23 Anthony Roux

Previous result: Oyonnax won 23-20 in ProD2 in 2013
Kick-off: 20:45 local (19:45 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gauzère


Grenoble v Toulouse
Stade des Alpes, Grenoble

It's getting desperate for Grenoble, who were well-beaten by Clermont last weekend and now face the in-form side in the Top 14.

Toulouse have won five straight now, including wins at both Stade Français and Toulon, while last week they hammered Brive 67-19.

With Guy Novès set to depart to take over the French job at the end of the season after two decades in charge, Toulouse will be desperate to send him on his way with yet another title.

They are still outsiders behind Clermont and Toulon, but depending on results this weekend, they could be in the top two heading into the final weekend of the season.

The combination of Sébastien Bézy and Toby Flood seems to be working wonders in the half-backs, while the injury list is getting smaller.

That's not the case for Grenoble, who lost Arnaud Héguy last weekend, having already seen Henry Vanderglas and Alipate Ratini ruled out for the season.

With just a point separating them from the relegation zone after four straight losses, it's desperate times for Grenoble, who are also behind in the head-to-head battles with all the teams around them.

They travel to Lyon next week, but a win here, combined with other results, could all but save them before the final weekend.

Grenoble: 15 Fabien Gengenbacher, 14 Daniel Kilioni, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Nigel Hunt, 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Jonathan Wisniewski, 9 Charl Mcleod, 8 Florian Faure, 7 Fabien Alexandre, 6 Rory Grice, 5 Hendrik Roodt, 4 Benjamin Hand, 3 Dayna Edwards, 2 Laurent Bouchet, 1 Albertus Buckle.
Replacements: 16 Loick Jammes, 17 Fabien Barcella, 18 Ross Skeate, 19 Jonathan Best, 20 Joannes Henry, 21 Geoffroy Messina, 22 Benjamin Thiery, 23 Richard Choirat

Toulouse: 15 Maxime Médard, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Yann David, 12 Florian Fritz, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sébastien Bézy, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Yannick Nyanga, 6 Thierry Dusautoir, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Joe Tekori, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp
Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Cyril Baille, 18 Census Johnston, 19 Edwin Maka, 20 Imanol Harinordoquy, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Luke McAlister, 23 Timoci Matanavou

Result last season: Grenoble won 25-18
Kick-off: 14:35 local (13:35 GMT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal


Bordeaux-Bègles v Bayonne
Stade Chaban Delmas, Bordeaux

This week has been dominated by talk of a potential merger between Bayonne and Biarritz, and the future Basque side will only play in the Top 14 if Bayonne can beat the drop.

They are up against it as it stands, and boss Patricio Noriega admits that a defeat at Bordeaux would leave them in massive trouble.

Currently on 47 points, they are level with Castres, and trail Brive and Grenoble by a point with La Rochelle in town next week.

A success in that game might be enough, but it's hard to know how much of an impact the merger talks will have had on the club.

As for Bordeaux-Bègles, they battled to an important win over Oyonnax last week, although the try they conceded at the death might prove costly, as it gave Oyo an important bonus point.

They trail Racing-Métro by three points, but a big win here would keep the pressure on heading into the final weekend and a trip to Toulouse.

Some good news for Bordeaux is it looks like their coaching staff will remain next season, as long-time favourite for the France job Raphael Ibanez is set to be pipped by Novès.

His backs coach Vincent Etcheto will also remain, having been linked to the new Basque side, and with the likes of Adam Ashley-Cooper on his way, Bordeaux will be a force again next season, even if they fall short in their play-off bid.

Bordeaux-Bègles: 15 Sofiane Guitoune, 14 Metuisela Talebula, 13 Jayden Spence, 12 Julien Rey, 11 Blair Connor, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Heini Adams, 8 Marco Tauleigne, 7 Peter Saili, 6 Louis Madaule, 5 Adam Jaulhac, 4 Jandre Marais, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Wayne Avei, 1 Jean-Batiste Poux.
Replacements: 16 Benat Auzqui, 17 Jefferson Poirot, 18 Berend Botha, 19 Hugh Chalmers, 20 Yann Lesgourgues, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Pierre Bernard, 23 Albert Toetu.

Bayonne: 15 Scott Spedding, 14 Martin Bustos Moyano, 13 Joe Rokocoko, 12 Gabiriele Lovobalavu, 11 Marvin O'Connor, 10 Santiago Fernandez, 9 Guillaume Rouet, 8 Charles Ollivon, 7 Jean Jo Marmouyet, 6 Jean Monribot, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Pelu ian Taele, 3 Aretz Iguiniz, 2 Anthony Etrillard, 1 Lucas Pointud.
Replacements: 16 David Roumieu, 17 Gert Muller, 18 Lisiate Faaoso, 19 Pierre Gayraud, 20 Christophe Loustalot, 21 Matthieu Ugalde, 22 Dwayne Haare, 23 Nicolas Chocou.

Result last season: Bordeaux-Bègles won 34-6
Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Jérôme Garcès


Castres v Brive
Stade Pierre Antoine, Castres

The Stade Pierre Antoine will be the site of a huge game in the relegation battle this season as Castres look to continue their great escape.

Last year's Top 14 finalists gambled last week by resting a number of first team regulars for their trip to Toulon, unsurprisingly coming away with nothing from the game.

As a result, they have to beat Brive, who were on the end of a shellacking last week at Toulouse, but seem to have been targeting this game as well.

It likely won't be pretty but the winners won't care about that, and with both teams facing tough final games, the losing side might well join Lyon in the second flight next season.

Castres will travel to Racing on the final weekend, while Brive host Stade Français, so it's all to play for in this one.

The hosts trail Brive by a point in the table, while Castres will also look to win by more than six points, to ensure they win any head-to-head if the teams are level at the end of the season.

Castres are certainly the form side, having won three on the spin before writing off last week's game, while Brive haven't picked up a point on the road since November.

If that trend continues, Castres could be almost safe before travelling to take on their former coaches at Racing next week.

Castres: 15 Geoffrey Palis, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 Thomas Combezou, 12 Remi Lamerat, 11 Remy Grosso, 10 Remi Tales, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 John Beattie, 7 Yannick Caballero, 6 Ibrahim Diarra, 5 Rodrigo Capo ortega, 4 Christophe Samson, 3 Karena Wihongi, 2 Brice Mach, 1 Mihaita Lazar.
Replacements: 16 Marc antoine Rallier, 17 Yannick Forestier, 18 Benjamin Desroche, 19 Jannie Bornman, 20 Cedric Garcia, 21 Romain Cabannes, 22 Julien Dumora, 23 Ramiro Herrera.

Brive: 15 Gaetan Germain, 14 Guillaume Namy, 13 Arnaud Mignardi, 12 Andrew Mailei, 11 Benito Masilevu, 10 Nicolas Bezy, 9 Jean-Baptiste Pejoine, 8 Sisa Koyamaibole, 7 Said Hireche, 6 Petrus Hauman, 5 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 4 Peet Marais, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Francois da Ros, 1 Karlen Asieshvili.
Replacements: 16 Thomas Acquier, 17 Johannes Coetzee, 18 Arnaud Mela, 19 Hugues Briatte, 20 Sevanaia Galala, 21 Damien Neveu, 22 Riaan Swanepoel, 23 Giorgi Jgenti.

Result last season: Castres won 38-6
Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite


La Rochelle v Racing-Métro
Stade Marcel Deflandre, La Rochelle

La Rochelle haven't lost in the Top 14 since January, while Racing come into this game without a win in their last four games in all competitions.

From potential semi-finalists, Racing are now fighting to hang on to a play-off spot, but only Bordeaux have won at Marcel Deflandre this season.

Jacky Lorenzetti made clear to his team this week that last Sunday's derby defeat to 14-man Stade Français wasn't good enough, and he expects a response this weekend.

While Maxime Machenaud has been in fine form, coach Laurent Labit admitted last week that a number of players seemed to be focused on the upcoming World Cup or moves away from the club.

Having invested so heavily, nothing less than a win will be good enough for Lorenzetti, against a La Rochelle side put together on a shoestring budget in comparison.

Les Rochelais aren't quite safe from relegation yet, especially with a tricky game in Bayonne on the final day, but a win here would secure their place in the top flight next season.

While Loann Goujon is heading to Bordeaux, they have managed to retain a number of their key players, including skipper Uini Atonio.

And as Oyonnax have shown this year, once you stay up, there is always a chance to build from there and upset the bigger sides in the league.

La Rochelle: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Alofa Alofa, 13 Jean Pascal Barraque, 12 Levani Botia, 11 Malietoa seuli Hingano, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Julien Audy, 8 Loann Goujon, 7 Kevin Gourdon, 6 Jason Eaton, 5 Leandro Cedaro, 4 Romana Graham, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Hikairo Forbes, 1 Vincent Pelo.
Replacements: 16 Jordan Seneca, 17 Mike Corbel, 18 Jone Qovu, 19 Romain Sazy, 20 Julien Berger, 21 Fabien Fortassin, 22 Sereli Bobo, 23 Lekso Kaulashvili.

Racing-Métro: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Juan Imhoff, 13 Henry Chavancy, 12 Alexandre Dumoulin, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Benjamin Dambielle, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Camille Gerondeau, 7 Bernard le Roux, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Davit Khinchagishvili.
Replacements: 16 Virgile Lacombe, 17 Eddy Ben Arous, 18 Juandre Kruger, 19 Antonie Claassen, 20 Mike Phillips, 21 Jonathan Sexton, 22 Teddy Thomas, 23 Brian Mujati.

Previous result: Racing-Métro won 32-24 in 2011
Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Cedric Marchat


Stade Français v Montpellier
Stade Jean Bouin

A derby win last week despite Sergio Parisse's early red card put Stade right back in the race for a home semi-final.

The win at Colombes was one of Stade's best performances of the season, with Morne Steyn finally finding his best form.

They need to avoid a fall back to earth this week though, with Montpellier still in with a shout of a play-off place. If Jake White's side can do it, they'll have got there the hard way, with Stade and Clermont to finish the season.

They've looked a better side since the return of François Trinh-Duc however, and after his desperate bad luck earlier this season, breaking his leg just after being recalled by France, he might have timed it better this time around.

As his fly-half rivals, including Stade's Jules Plisson, pick up injuries, Trinh-Duc is coming into form, slotting two important drop goals last weekend.

With the French squad announced next week, he's got everything to play for, and a win could put Montpellier right back in the hunt for a play-off spot.

Stade Français: 15 Djibril Camara, 14 Jeremy Sinzelle, 13 Waisale Nayacalevu, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Julien Arias, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Jerome Fillol, 8 Jonathon montague Ross, 7 Pierre Rabadan, 6 Raphael Lakafia, 5 Gerhard Mostert, 4 Alexandre Flanquart, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Remi Bonfils, 1 Hendrik van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Laurent Sempere, 17 Sakaria Taulafo, 18 Hugh Pyle, 19 Antoine Burban, 20 Julien Dupuy, 21 Scott Lavalla, 22 Meyer Bosman, 23 Davit Kubriashvili

Montpellier: 15 Ben Lucas, 14 Albert Vulivuli, 13 Anthony Tuitavake, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Lucas Dupont, 10 François Trinh-Duc, 9 Benoît Paillaugue, 8 Akapusi Qera, 7 Kélian Galletier, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Thibaut Privat, 4 Robins Tchale-watchou, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Charles Géli, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili
Replacements: 16 Mickaël Ivaldi, 17 Yvan Watremez, 18 Johan Aliouat, 19 Sitaleki Timani, 20 Jonathan Pélissié, 21 Wynand Olivier, 22 Pierre Bérard, 23 Pat Cilliers

Result last season: Stade Français won 18-11
Kick-off: 16:35 local (15:35 GMT)
Referee: Christophe Berdos

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