Top 14 Preview: Round 5

Date published: September 16 2016

Round Five of Top 14 action culminates in a repeat of last season’s final, while there are a couple of other enticing fixtures before we head to Colombes on Sunday afternoon.

It all begins in Lyon where Toulouse will be looking to get back on track after consecutive defeats.

Then on Saturday afternoon Bayonne welcome Montpellier and Pau entertain Stade Français.

Leaders La Rochelle look to maintain their strong start to the campaign in Brive, and on Saturday night Clermont host a Bordeaux side who have enjoyed some success at the Marcel Michelin.

Then on Sunday a Grenoble team in financial difficult travel to Castres before the big one between Racing 92 and Toulon.



Lyon v Toulouse
Bayonne v Montpellier
Pau v Stade Français
Brive v La Rochelle
Clermont v Bordeaux-Bègles


Castres v Grenoble
Racing 92 v Toulon

Lyon v Toulouse
Matmut Stadium, Lyon                  

Leaders after two rounds, it’s all gone wrong for Toulouse in the last two weeks, after they lost to Racing a fortnight ago and then Toulon on their own patch last weekend.

The second of those defeats was the more concerning, as they really struggled to break down Toulon, and question marks have been raised over the fly-half options in la Ville Rose.

That’s not to say they can’t get a win in Lyon, who were also soundly beaten away at surprise package La Rochelle, but a home win would not come as a major shock.

The back row battle should be particularly interesting, with Toulouse really missing injured flanker Yacouba Camara, while Freddie Michalak will enjoy going up against his old team once again.

The teams:

Lyon: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Toby Arnold, 13 Hemani Paea, 12 Rudi Wulf, 11 Napolioni Nalaga, 10 Frédéric Michalak, 9 Agustín Figuerola, 8 Carl Fearns, 7 Virgile Bruni, 6 Julien Puricelli, 5 Thibault Privat, 4 Taiasina Tuifua, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Mickaël Ivaldi, 1 Albertus Buckle
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Alexandre Menini, 18 Josh Bekhuis, 19 Julien Bonnaire, 20 Theo Belan, 21 Deon Fourie, 22 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 23 Stephane Clement

Toulouse: 15 Maxime Médard, 14 Sofiane Guitoune, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Toby Flood, 11 Paul Perez, 10 Luke McAlister, 9 Sébastien Bezy, 8 Gillian Galan, 7 Gregory Lamboley, 6 Thierry Dusautoir, 5 Joe Tekori, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Vasil Kakovin
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Cyril Baille, 18 Edwin Maka, 19 Francois Cros, 20 Jean-Luc Brumont, 21 Jean Marc Doussain, 22 Gaël Fickou, 23 Maks van Dyk

Previous result: Toulouse won 41-17 in 2014
Kick-off: 14:45 local (13:45 GMT)
Referee: Tual Trainini

Bayonne v Montpellier
Stade Jean Dauger, Bayonne

After a slow start Montpellier finally seem to be hitting their straps, which doesn’t bode well for Bayonne.

So far the Basque side are unbeaten at Jean Dauger, but they’ve just lost two in a row on the road, and were comfortably beaten at Bordeaux last time out.

Montpellier remain as hard to break down as ever, and even without the injured Bismarck du Plessis, are reestablishing themselves as play-off contenders.

Another win on the road would only underline that status.

The teams:

Bayonne: 15 Julien Tisseron, 14 Romain Martial, 13 Félix Le Bourhis, 12 Gabiriele Lovobalavu, 11 Bastien Fuster, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Guillaume Rouet, 8 John Beattie, 7 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 6 Jean Monribot, 5 Pelu Taele, 4 Dion Evrard Oulai, 3 Richard Choirat, 2 Gregory Arganese, 1 Lorenzo Cittadini
Replacements: 16 Manu Leiataua, 17 Adrien Bordenave, 18 Pablo Huete, 19 PJ Van Lill, 20 Manu Saubusse, 21 Tanerau Latimer, 22 Raphael Lagarde, 23 Ben Broster

Montpellier: 15 Joffrey Michel, 14 Marvin O'Connor, 13 Vincent Martin, 12 Alexandre Dumoulin, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic White, 8 Kelian Galletier, 7 Antoine Battut, 6 Wian Liebenberg, 5 Robins Tchale-Watchou, 4 Konstantin Mikautadze, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Charles Géli, 1 Yvan Watremez
Replacements: 16 Arno van Wyk, 17 Mikheil Nariashvili, 18 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 20 Benoît Paillaugue, 21 Francois Steyn, 22 Benjamin Fall, 23 Davit Kubriashvili

Previous result: Montpellier won 15-10 in 2014
Kick-off: 18:30 local (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Cédric Marchat

Pau v Stade Français
Stade du Hameau, Pau

Stade Français have arguably been involved in the most exciting games to start the season, with a thrilling win over Castres last time out.

They travel to Pau this weekend, but do so without Jules Plisson, suspended after his red card against Castres, and with Morne Steyn away with the Springboks, it’s a position where Stade could ill-afford to suffer a suspension.

Simon Mannix’s team have been traditionally tough to beat on home soil. That said, they have made a relatively slow start to the season, with their only win coming against a Bayonne team reduced to 14 men in the first half.

There’s not necessarily any reason to panic just yet, but sitting in 12th, they would certainly like a win to have some breathing room at the bottom.

The teams: 

Pau: 15 Charly Malie, 14 Louis Dupichot, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Jale Vatubua, 11 Bastien Pourailly, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Julien Tomas, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Paddy Butler, 5 Julien Pierre, 4 Fabrice Metz, 3 Sylvain Charlet, 2 Thomas Bianchin, 1 Geoffrey Moise
Replacements: 16 Quentin Lespiaucq, 17 Jamie Mackintosh, 18 Daniel Ramsay, 19 Sean Dougall, 20 Thibault Daubagna, 21 Brandon Fajardo, 22 Tom Taylor, 23 Malik Hamadache

Stade Français: 15 Hugo Bonneval, 14 Ratu Ratini, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Paul Williams, 11 Jérémy Sinzelle, 10 Meyer Bosman, 9 Clément Daguin, 8 Patrick Sio, 7 Jono Ross, 6 Antoine Burban, 5 Paul Gabrillagues, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Rémy Bonfils, 1 Heinke Van der Merwe
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Aled De Malmanche, 18 Mathieu De Giovanni, 19 Mathieu Ugena, 20 Raphaël Lakafia, 21 Julien Dupuy, 22 Julien Arias, 23 Sakaria Taulafo

Last year’s result: Pau won 19-12
Kick-off: 18:30 local (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite

Brive v La Rochelle
Stade Amédée Domenech, Brive

Few would have tipped La Rochelle to lead the Top 14 after four rounds, but it’s entirely deserved with three wins and a draw in their first four games.

Playing some of the most entertaining rugby in the league, they have a number of players who could well feature for France in November.

If Uini Atonio and Kevin Gourdon have already had their shot, don’t be surprised to see the likes of Gabriel Lacroix and former Sevens star Steeve Barry included sooner rather than later.

They face a Brive team who were involved in an ugly encounter in Grenoble last week, one which they lost despite having an extra man for much of the second half.

The teams:

Brive: 15 Gaëtan Germain, 14 Sevenaia Galala, 13 Arnaud Mignardi, 12 Seremaia Burotu, 11 Benjamin Lapeyre, 10 Nicolas Bezy, 9 Teddy Iribaren, 8 Sisa Koyamaibole, 7 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 6 Petrus Hauman, 5 Arnaud Mela, 4 Julien Le Devedec, 3 Soso Bekoshvili, 2 Francois Da Ros, 1 Karlen Asieshvili
Replacements: 16 Guillaume Ribes, 17 Lucas Pointud, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Fabien Sanconnie, 20 Jean-Baptiste Péjoine, 21 Thomas Laranjeira, 22 Benito Masilevu, 23 Patrick-Albert Toetu

La Rochelle: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Vincent Rattez, 13 Steeve Barry, 12 Paul Jordaan, 11 Gabriel Lacroix, 10 Brock James, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Afaesetiti Amosa, 7 Zeno Kieft, 6 Romain Sazy, 5 Leandro Cedaro, 4 Romana Graham, 3 Mohamed Boughanmi, 2 Maxime Gau, 1 Mike Corbel
Replacements: 16 Jeremie Maurouard, 17 Lekso Kaulashvili, 18 Damien Lagrange, 19 Jone Qovu, 20 Jason Eaton, 21 Jules Lebail, 22 Charles Bouldoire, 23 Uini Atonio

Last year’s result: Brive won 28-6
Kick-off: 18:30 local (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal

Clermont v Bordeaux-Bègles
Stade Marcel Michelin, Clermont-Ferrand

La Rochelle might be top, but Clermont can certainly stake a claim for the most impressive start to the season with three games on the road and then a thumping win over the champions.

Racing had rested some of their players, but it was still a great display by Clermont who have a number players in red hot form, most notably Noa Nakaitaci.

With five tries in four games, including a hat-trick last time out, he will harbour hopes of an international recall.

Bordeaux got back to winning ways against Bayonne, although they did throw away a bonus point.

But their recent record at the Stade Marcel Michelin is great. They drew in the league a year ago, before winning 37-28 in the Champions Cup to knock Clermont out.

As the expression in French goes ‘Jamais deux sans trois…’ ?

The teams:

Clermont: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 David Strettle, 13 Aurélien Rougerie, 12 Rémi Lamerat, 11 Noa Nakaitaci, 10 Patricio Fernández, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Alexandre Lapandry, 6 Judicael Cancoriet, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Paul Jedrasiak, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Etienne Falgoux
Replacements: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Thomas Domingo, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Damien Chouly, 20 Ludovic Radosavljevic, 21 Camille Lopez, 22 Benson Stanley, 23 Aaron Jarvis

Bordeaux-Bègles: 15 Jean-Marcellin Buttin, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Jean-Baptiste Dubie, 12 Julien Rey, 11 Metuisela Talebula, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Julien Audy, 8 Marco Tauleigne, 7 Hugh Chalmers, 6 Louis-Benoît Madaule, 5 Jan Andre Marais, 4 Johan Aliouat, 3 Marc Clerc, 2 Ole Avei, 1 Jefferson Poirot
Replacements: 16 Beñat Auzqui, 17 Sébastien Taofifenua, 18 Cyril Cazeaux, 19 Loann Goujon, 20 Yann Lesgourgues, 21 Ian Madigan, 22 Josaia Vakacegu, 23 Jean-Baptiste Poux

Last year’s result: The teams drew 26-26
Kick-off: 20:45 local (19:45 GMT)
Referee: Salem Attalah

Castres v Grenoble
Stade Pierre Antoine, Castres

Sunday’s action kicks off in Castres, who host a Grenoble team in financial strife.

The team from the Alps revealed this week that they are around €1m behind their provisional budget and have asked their players to take a pay cut in an attempt to close that gap.

What will happen remains to be seen, but but the players at least managed a win last time out against Brive despite spending the second half down to 13 men after a massive brawl before the break.

A year ago it was Castres’ indiscipline that decided this fixture, with Alexandre Bias sent off in the first half.

If both teams keep all 15 on the pitch on Sunday, this should be an entertaining and one that both teams need to win with just a victory apiece this season.

Last year’s result: Grenoble won 31-23
Kick-off: 12:30 local (11:30 GMT)
Referee: Adrien Descottes

Racing 92 v Toulon
Stade Yves du Manoir, Colombes

It’s time for revenge for Toulon, still stunned at losing the Top 14 final to 14 men in Barcelona.

On that day Maxime Machenaud was grateful to his teammates for bailing him out but he’ll expect to play closer to 80 minutes this time as he celebrates signing a new contract with the club.

Toulon have plenty of injuries and international absentees at the moment, so find themselves limited in terms of rotation.

As a result they will take a very strong squad to Paris, but whether those players are starting to tire a little after a tough start to the season remains to be seen.

Last year’s result: Toulon won 21-20
Kick-off: 16:15 local (15:15 GMT)
Referee: Maxime Chalon