Top 14 Preview: Round 8

Date published: October 7 2016

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The rugby world’s attention may be looking elsewhere in France following L’Equipe’s report on Racing 92 but the Top 14 is back for Round Eight with a number of big fixtures including a huge Parisian derby.

That’s where the weekend kicks off, with Racing hosting city rivals Stade Français, and find themselves in desperate need of a win

The Saturday evening encounters see Castres travel to Montpellier, Bordeux-Bègles host Brive and then bottom two Grenoble and Bayonne face off in the Alps.

Then to finish things up on Saturday, front runners La Rochelle host Toulon in a tantalizing battle.

Sunday’s early game could have huge repercussions in the relegation battle as Lyon host Pau, before one of the highlights of the French rugby calendar as Clermont welcome Toulouse.

Fixtures

Saturday

Racing 92 v Stade Français
Montpellier v Castres
Bordeaux-Bègles v Brive
Grenoble v Bayonne
La Rochelle v Toulon

Sunday

Lyon v Pau
Clermont v Toulouse


Racing 92 v Stade Français
Stade Yves du Manoir, Colombes

Derby week brings its own challenges, but Racing 92 would have hoped for a slightly smoother build-up than allegations that traces of corticosteroids were found in the urine of Dan Carter, Joe Rokocoko and Juan Imhoff after the Top 14 final back in June.

Racing and Simon Porter, agent for the two former All Blacks, have both responded but it’s hard to imagine this story has helped Racing prepare for what is a huge encounter.

Currently sitting in 11th, Racing aren’t that far off the pace, but a first home loss of the season would leave them playing catch-up.

Their home form hasn’t been an issue though, the bigger concern being their failure to pick up even a losing bonus point in their first four away games.

Stade have been a little better, and last week’s victory over La Rochelle has them within striking distance of the play-offs.

They will be without skipper Sergio Parisse for this game though, the Italian serving the second week of his suspension for his red card against Toulouse.

It didn’t hurt them too much last week, they’ll be hoping for the same again at Colombes.

The teams:

Racing 92: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Anthony Tuitavake, 12 Casey Laulala, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Rémi Talès, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Yannick Nyanga, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Leone Nakarawa, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Virgile Lacombe, 1 Eddy Ben Arous
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Viliamu Afatia, 18 Francois van der Merwe, 19 Thibault Dubarry, 20 James Hart, 21 Benjamin Dambielle, 22 Albert Vulivuli, 23 Ben Tameifuna

Stade Français: 15 Hugo Bonneval, 14 Julien Arias, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Paul Williams, 11 Jérémy Sinzelle, 10 Meyer Bosman, 9 Julien Dupuy, 8 Raphaël Lakafia, 7 Sylvain Nicolas, 6 Sekou Macalou, 5 Paul Gabrillagues, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Laurent Sempere, 1 Heinke Van der Merwe
Replacements: 16 Rémy Bonfils, 17 Zurabi Zhvania, 18 Pascal Papé, 19 Mathieu de Giovanni, 20 Clément Daguin, 21 Jules Plisson, 22 Waisea Nayacalevu, 23 Sakaria Taulafo

Last year’s result: Racing won 27-18
Kick-off: 14:45 local (13:45 GMT)
Referee: Laurent Cardona


Montpellier v Castres
Altrad Stadium, Montpellier

A repeat of last season’s barrage when Castres were suffocated by Montpellier. Jake White’s team were distinctly underwhelming a week ago against Toulon but have topped 40 points in each of their last two home games.

They will need to prove that the Toulon loss was just a blip, rather than a reaction to the news of White’s departure at the end of the season.

Castres arrive fresh from a frustrating loss at Clermont where they looked like they might cause an upset for much of the game only to come away with nothing.

A second straight trip to a Top 14 contender is a tough ask for Christophe Urios’ side.

The teams:

Montpellier: 15 Ben Botica, 14 Marvin O’Connor, 13 Alexandre Dumoulin, 12 François Steyn, 11 Benjamin Fall, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic White, 8 Akapusi Qera, 7 Kélian Galletier, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Davit Kubriashvili, 2 Shalva Mamukashvili, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili
Replacements: 16 Arno van Wyk, 17 Gregory Fichten, 18 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19 Pierre Spies, 20 Benoît Paillaugue, 21 Vincent Martin, 22 Henry Immelman, 23 Gagi Bazadze

Castres: 15 Pierre Berard, 14 Rémy Grosso, 13 Afusipa Taumoepeau, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 David Smith, 10 Julien Dumora, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Alex Tulou, 7 Steve Mafi, 6 Alexandre Bias, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 4 Victor Moreaux, 3 Damien Tussac, 2 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 1 Mihaita Lazar
Replacements: 16 Brice Mach, 17 Antoine Tichit, 18 Anthony Jelonch, 19 Mathieu Babillot, 20 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 21 Antoine Dupont, 22 Horacio Agulla, 23 Daniel Kotze

Last year’s result: Montpellier won 22-19
Kick-off: 18:30 local (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Sébastien Minery


Bordeaux-Bègles v Brive
Stade Chaban Delmas, Bordeaux

Two of the big winners last weekend face off at the Stade Chaban Delmas as Brive travel to Bordeaux.

UBB nicked a late win with a Romain Lonca intercept try against Pau, while Brive bullied Racing en-route to a comfortable home win.

Nicolas Godignon’s team have lost their last two on the road, but kicked off the season with a draw at Lyon followed by that stunning success at Toulon.

A third positive result on the road would have them right in the play-off hunt, as they currently sit seventh, one place behind their opponents on the day.

Bordeaux haven’t quite clicked this season, but back-to-back wins have helped them bounce back from a slow start. They’ll expect more of the same here.

The teams:

UBB: 15 Metuisela Talebula, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Romain Lonca, 12 Julien Rey, 11 Blair Connor, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Loann Goujon, 7 Hugh Chalmers, 6 Louis-Benoît Madaule, 5 Jan Andre Marais, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Marc Clerc, 2 Ole Avei, 1 Sébastien Taofifenua
Replacements: 16 Clément Maynadier, 17 Jefferson Poirot, 18 Cyril Cazeaux, 19 Marco Tauleigne, 20 Yann Lesgourgues, 21 Ian Madigan, 22 Jean-Marcellin Buttin, 23 Vadim Cobilas

Brive: 15 Thomas Laranjeira, 14 Sevenaia Galala, 13 Romain Cabannes, 12 Seremaia Burotu, 11 Benito Masilevu, 10 Nicolas Bezy, 9 Jean-Baptiste Pejoine, 8 Petrus Gherardus Hauman, 7 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 6 Fabien Sanconnie, 5 Arnaud Mela, 4 Julien Ledevedec, 3 Damien Jourdain, 2 Francois da Ros, 1 Karlen Asieshvili
Replacements: 16 Thomas Acquier, 17 Lucas Pointud, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Sisa Koyamaibole, 20 Vasil Lobzhanidze, 21 Ga%u200Bëtan Germain, 22 Malakai Bakaniceva, 23 Patrick-Albert Toetu

Last year’s result: Bordeaux won 34-7
Kick-off: 18:30 local (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Pierre Brousset


Grenoble v Bayonne
Stade des Alpes, Grenoble

Bottom welcomes second bottom in the Alps and this already looks like a must-win game for both teams. With a win apiece from their first seven games, it’s been a difficult start to the season, and already a gap has opened up to Lyon in 12th.

For Grenoble in particular, it’s been a bleak campaign so far – their lone win coming in that crazy, card-filled clash with Brive.

Bayonne, meanwhile, haven’t won since the opening day against Toulon, and while a couple of draws have kept them off the foot of the table, they really need a result here.

It’s not been an easy schedule for Vincent Etcheto’s side, but they can’t afford to get cut adrift at the bottom.

The teams:

Grenoble: 15 Armand Batlle, 14 Xavier Mignot, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Nigel Hunt, 11 Lucas Dupont, 10 Gilles Bosch, 9 David Mélé, 8 Steven Setephano, 7 Fabien Alexandre, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Aly Muldowney, 4 Ben Hand, 3 Rossouw De Klerk, 2 Laurent Bouchet, 1 Sona Taumalolo
Replacements: 16 Loïck Jammes, 17 Alexandre Dardet, 18 Mathias Marie, 19 Kevin Kornath, 20 Lilian Saseras, 21 Maritino Nemani, 22 Edward Sawailau, 23 Walter Desmaison

Bayonne: 15 Romain Martial, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Félix le Bourhis, 12 Gabiriele Lovobalavu, 11 Julien Jane, 10 Raphaël Lagarde, 9 Manu Saubusse, 8 John Beattie, 7 Jean Jo Marmouyet, 6 Jean Monribot, 5 Pelu Taele, 4 Pierre Gayraud, 3 Richard Choirat, 2 Manu Leiataua, 1 Aretz Iguiniz
Replacements: 16 Grégory Arganese, 17 Ben Broster, 18 Pablo Huete, 19 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 20 Guillaume Rouet, 21 Tanerau Latimer, 22 Willie du Plessis, 23 Lorenzo Cittadini

Previous result: Grenoble won 24-15 in 2014
Kick-off: 18:30 local (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Maxime Chalon


La Rochelle v Toulon
Stade Marcel Deflandre, La Rochelle

Second takes on third at Marcel Deflandre, but while La Rochelle might be a surprise package this season, they are very much worth their place on the podium as it stands.

They shouldn’t be too worried about Toulon coming to town given the triple European champions’ recent record on the Atlantic coast.

Since Mourad Boudjellal’s arrival at the club Toulon have won just once in six visits to La Rochelle, including losses in each of the last two seasons.

While those may have been surprises, this year it’s La Rochelle who enter the game ahead in the league, and they were boosted this week by the news that back-rower Kevin Gourdon has re-signed with the club.

Toulon are starting to get some of their injured players back, including Duane Vermeulen, they will need them to keep up with La Rochelle.

The teams:

La Rochelle: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Vincent Rattez, 13 Steeve Barry, 12 Benjamin Noble, 11 Gabriel Lacroix, 10 Brock James, 9 Arthur Retiere, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Jone Qovu, 6 Romain Sazy, 5 Leandro Cedaro, 4 Jason Eaton, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Jérémie Maurouard, 1 Mike Corbel
Replacements: 16 Hikairo Forbes, 17 Dany Priso, 18 Damien Lagrange, 19 Afaesetiti Amosa, 20 Kevin Gourdon, 21 Anthony Fuertes, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Luc Mousset

Toulon: 15 James O’Connor, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Maxime Mermoz, 12 Matt Carraro, 11 Jimmy Yobo, 10 Anthony Belleau, 9 Eric Escande, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Samu Manoa, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Juandré Kruger, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Anthony Etrillard, 1 Florian Fresia
Replacements: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Jocelino Suta, 19 Aidon Davis, 20 Ayumu Goromaru, 21 Pierre Bernard, 22 Anthony Meric, 23 Levan Chilachava

Last year’s result: La Rochelle won 19-14
Kick-off: 20:45 local (19:45 GMT)
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz


Lyon v Pau
Matmut Stadium, Lyon

The early Sunday kick-off hasn’t been met with universal acclaim but we had an entertaining game between Stade Français and La Rochelle last time out.

Lyon and Pau have to follow their lead in a game which could be very important for their survival aspirations.

While Grenoble and Bayonne are currently struggling at the bottom, Lyon and Pau are 12th and 10th respectively and keen to avoid getting sucked into a relegation scrap.

Lyon’s draw at Bayonne last time out was a promising result, while Pau will have been devastated to throw away victory against Bordeaux.

A win on the road here and they would confirm themselves as more than just lower table fodder.

Previous result: Lyon won 39-7 in Pro D2 in 2013
Kick-off: 12:30 local (11:30 GMT)
Referee: Adrien Descottes


Clermont v Toulouse
Stade Marcel Michelin, Clermont

Back on top of the table, Clermont look a class above everyone so far this season and this week play host to a Toulouse team with a dreadful record at the Marcel Michelin.

You have to go all the way back to 2002 to find trace of a Toulouse win at the home of Les Jaunards and it’s been six years since they even managed a bonus point.
So while Jean-Baptiste Elissalde says Toulouse’s confidence is returning after successive home wins, this is another step up entirely.

Clermont weren’t entirely comfortable at home to Castres last week, but a fantastic solo score from Noa Nakaitaci ensured they would emerge victorious.

And with the strength in depth at their disposal, they will be expected to do the same again here, even if Toulouse are approaching a full complement with their injury-absentees on the comeback trail.

Last year’s result: Clermont won 32-23
Kick-off: 16:15 local (15:15 GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite

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