Planet Rugby

Top 14 Preview: Round Six

13th September 2013 11:30

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Toulon centre Mathew Giteau L runs to score v Castres

Rematch: Castres v Toulon

League leaders Toulon travel to defending champions Castres for a rematch of last season's final on Saturday.

Toulouse have had the worst start to a season in their history but will expect to bounce back at home to struggling Biarritz.

In the Basque country, Racing are under pressure as they visit Bayonne.

Fixtures:

Friday, September 13
Perpignan v Montpellier

Saturday, September 14 (All kick-offs 18h30 local unless otherwise stated
Castres v Toulon 14h55
Bordeaux v Oyonnax
Clermont v Grenoble
Stade Français v Brive
Toulouse v Biarritz
Bayonne v Racing Metro 20h35

Previews:

Castres Olympique v RC Toulonnais
Stade Pierre Antoine, Castres

League leaders Toulon, who consigned Biarritz to the foot of the table with a 24-13 away victory last Sunday, travel to Castres on Saturday looking for their first win against the champions in four games.

Castres suffered a shock defeat last week at the hands of newly-promoted Oyonnax but back at home, will expect to get a positive result since Toulon have not won in the Tarn since 1986.

The latest big-name signing for Toulon is Juan Smith, the 32-year-old Springbok back-rower returning to the rugby fold after not playing since February 2011 due to an Achilles injury that required five operations.

"I haven't worn a rugby shirt for nearly three years so it's a huge privilege to wear Toulon's shirt," said the 2007 World Cup winner, who has been named in the extended RCT squad.

"I don't think there's a better team than Toulon with which to start playing again."

Although many believed he would never play again, Smith has passed all the necessary medicals and is raring to go.

"It's already been six months since my last operation, there's no risk of breaking down again, I'm ready to play this weekend or next weekend," said the 69-times capped Springbok.

Castres are without French international loose forward Antonie Claassen but welcome back Scotland back Max Evans.

Toulon lock Jocelino Suta has joined Fred Michalak and Joe van Niekerk on the RCT injury list.

Previous results: Castres 25-20 Toulon; Toulon 14-19 Castres
Prediction: Tough one to call but Castres have an impressive record at home. Castres by four points.
Kick-off: 14.55 (13.55 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gaüzère


Union Bordeaux-Bègles v US Oyonnax
Stade André Moga, Bègles

A battle of the giant slayers! Between them, UBB and Oyonnax have toppled Toulouse, Clermont, Castres and Biarritz this season.

Bordeaux-Bègles have won their last six home games against Oyonnax so will start as favourites.

Previous result: Bordeaux 35-7 Oyonnax (D2, 2011)
Prediction: Home win. UBB by eight points
Kick-off: 18.30 (17.30 GMT)
Referee: Sébastien Clouté


ASM Clermont Auvergne v FC Grenoble
Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin, Clermont Ferrand

Clermont are seeking a 63rd home match without defeat at the Stade Marcel Michelin as they host a Grenoble side with a very poor record on the road.

With both Montpellier and Toulon travelling this weekend, it's likely Clermont will return to the top of the standings on Saturday.

The headlines this week have been dominated by Ma'a Nonu, who is a "99 percent certainty" to join Clermont, according to reports in the French press.

Grenoble welcome back full-back Fabien Gengenbacher from injury.

Clermont scrum-half Morgan Parra returned to training on Thursday having recovered from a back injury. Julien Bardy, Jamie Cudmore and Vincent Debaty are doubtful starters while Davit Zirakashvili has been ruled out.

Previous results: Clermont 44-20 Grenoble; Grenoble 10-17 Clermont
Prediction: No mystery here. Clermont to win with a bonus point.
Kick-off: 18.30 (17.30 GMT)
Referee: Patrick Péchambert


Stade Français Paris v CA Brive Corrèze Limousin
Stade Jean Bouin, Paris

Fourth-placed Stade Français, impressive 23-18 winners over Clermont last week, entertain second-last Brive looking for a third home win at their refurbished Jean-Bouin Stadium.

Stade are looking in their best shape for years and will hope to continue their run of strong results in the capital.

The hosts will be without skipper Pascal Papé who is serving a one-game suspension after being handed a red card against Clermont.

Previous result: Stade Français 28-17 Brive (2011)
Prediction: Home win. Stade Français by ten points.
Kick-off: 18.30 (17.30 GMT)
Referee: Cédric Marchat


Stade Toulousain v Biarritz Olympique
Stade Ernest Wallon, Toulouse

Toulouse backs coach Jean-Baptiste Elissalde called on his team to react after their humiliating loss to Montpellier last week, which gave the record league champions three defeats from their opening five games, their worst ever start to the Top 14.

"At this level, given the potential of the players we picked to run out, we expected more commitment," said the former France scrum-half.

"You can't go out on a pitch with so little desire.

"Some of our leaders let us down. We're trying to understand what happened and we must react from this coming weekend."

Hosting struggling Biarritz on Saturday is the perfect opportunity to make amends. Biarritz have won just once this season, and haven't won since at Stade Ernest Wallon since 2001.

Biarritz have named a squad full of youngsters with the hope of saving their big guns for next week's game against Grenoble.

Toulouse are sweating over the fitness of Thierry Dusautoir, who has a knee injury.

Previous results: Toulouse 19-14 Biarritz; Biarritz 22-17 Toulouse
Prediction: Big home win. Toulouse to win with a bonus point.
Kick-off: 18.30 (17.30 GMT)
Referee: Cyril Lafon


Aviron Bayonnais v Racing-Métro 92
Stade Jean Dauger, Bayonne

Racing-Métro's expensively-assembled squad have been the disappointments of the season so far.

Separated by just two points in the standings, Bayonne will fancy their chances of climbing about their visitors.

Matches between these sides have a history of being closely-contested affairs with winning margin being less than ten points in the last ten years.

Racing welcome back Georgian prop David Khinchagishvili and Fijian wing Virimi Vakatawa but are without lock Jone Quvo and scrum-half Sébastien Descons.

Previous result: Bayonne 18-25 Racing Metro; Racing Metro 15-10 Bayonne
Prediction: Home win. Bayonne by five points.
Kick-off: 20.35 (19.35 GMT)
Referee: Laurent Cardona

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
International Match
Saturday , November 1
Barbarians vs AustraliaBarbarians vs Australia Preview
USA vs New ZealandUSA vs New Zealand Preview
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LV= Cup
Saturday , November 1
Sale Sharks vs Wasps14:00
Exeter vs Gloucester15:00
Bath vs London Welsh15:00
London Irish vs Leicester15:00
Northampton vs Newcastle16:00
Sunday , November 2
Saracens vs Harlequins13:00
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Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 31
Leinster vs EdinburghLeinster vs Edinburgh Preview
Glasgow vs Benetton TrevisoGlasgow vs Benetton Treviso Preview
Ospreys vs ConnachtOspreys vs Connacht Preview
Saturday , November 1
Cardiff Blues vs MunsterCardiff Blues vs Munster Preview
Scarlets vs ZebreScarlets vs Zebre Preview
Ulster vs Newport Gwent D'gonsUlster vs Newport Gwent D
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 1
Lyon vs Toulouse13:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Oyonnax18:30
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
La Rochelle vs Montpellier18:30
Brive vs Castres18:30
Bayonne vs Clermont Auvergne20:45
Sunday , November 2
Toulon vs Grenoble13:00
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Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 26
Castres 16 - 21 LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Report
Clermont Auvergne 35 - 3 Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Report
Benetton Treviso 10 - 26 Racing Metro 92
Wasps 16 - 23 HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Report
Saturday , October 25
Ulster 13 - 23 ToulonUlster vs Toulon Report
Bath 19 - 21 ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Report
Montpellier 13 - 15 GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Report
Northampton 34 - 6 OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Report
Scarlets 15 - 3 LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Report
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European Rugby Challenge Cup
Rovigo 18 - 33 Cardiff Blues
Exeter 33 - 13 Connacht
Bucuresti 9 - 13 Stade Francais
Oyonnax 15 - 25 Gloucester
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Currie Cup
Western Province 19 - 16 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
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ITM Cup
Taranaki 36 - 32 TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Report
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Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 SaracensMunster vs Saracens Report
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European Rugby Challenge Cup
Grenoble 15 - 25 London Irish
Edinburgh 25 - 17 LOU Rugby
Newport Gwent D'gons 26 - 30 Newcastle
Brive 21 - 26 Zebre
La Rochelle 25 - 13 Bayonne
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
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1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615