Planet Rugby

Top 14 Preview: Round 21

28th February 2014 09:58

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Perpignan players celebrate their victory 19 18 over toulouse

History: Perpignan won in Toulouse last year

Toulouse find themselves sitting outside the play-offs zone as they host Perpignan on Saturday before a high-stakes Basque derby on Sunday.

The top two are on the road this weekend as Stade Français kick the action off in Montpellier while Clermont travel to Bordeaux.

Toulon will expect to continue to climb up the standings with a home fixture against lowly Oyonnax.

Up in the capital, Racing Métro and Castres go head to head in the race for a place in the top six.

Fixtures:

Friday, February 28
Montpellier v Stade Français

Saturday, March 1
Bordeaux-Bègles v Clermont
Brive v Grenoble
Racing Métro v Castres
Toulon v Oyonnax
Toulouse v Perpignan

Sunday, March 2
Biarritz v Bayonne

Standings


Previews:

Union Bordeaux-Bègles v ASM Clermont Auvergne
Stade Jacques Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux

Unbeaten in seven games at home this last September, UBB host the league leaders hoping to secure the four points that should be enough to step clear of the relegation scrap.

Clermont haven't been great on the road this season, losing seven times in 10 games, including their last three.

However, les Jaunards have never lost to UBB in nine games in the professional era and have won on their last three visits to the Gironde region.

Result in Round Eight: Clermont won 40-11
Kick-off: 14:55 (13.55)
Referee: Cédric Marchat


CA Brive-Corrèze v Grenoble
Stade Amédée-Domenech, Brive-la-Gaillarde

Brive have been in good form of late, winning three out of four games before coming unstuck in Perpignan last week and missing out on an opportunity to pull clear of the relegation battle in the process.

The hosts have come out on top in their last four home games - losing just once on home soil all season - so they will fancy their chances against a Grenoble side that were shocked by Biarritz last week.

Sixth-placed Grenoble have won just once in 12 visits to Brive - back in 1981 - but with Toulouse and Racing breathing down their necks for the final spot in the play-offs, Fabrice Landreau's side won't be short on motivation.

Result in Round Eight: 12-12 draw
Kick-off: 18:30 (17.30 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gauzère


Racing Métro 92 v Castres Olympique
Stade Yves Du Manoir - Colombes (Paris)

Lying in eighth place, two points short of the play-off places, Racing cannot afford to drop points at home but face a very tough task against the defending champions.

Racing had lost just once in seven games before stumbling on the road in Bordeaux-Bègles last week and will be looking to recapture the form that put them back into contention. The Parisians have won nine of their 10 home games this term.

Castres, meanwhile, have travelled poorly, claiming just one win on the road this season. The champs have not tasted success in Colombes since 1999.

Result in Round Eight: Castres won 19-15
Kick-off: 18:30 (17.30 GMT)
Referee: Jérôme Garcès


Rugby Club Toulonnais v Oyonnax
Stade Felix Mayol, Toulon

Having been embarrassed in Oyonnax earlier this season, Toulon will have a point to prove as they host the relegation-threatened minnows on Saturday.

The European champs seem to be on an upward curve having finally claimed an away win last week in Bayonne as Jonny Wilkinson celebrated his 100th game for the club by scoring all the points.

With the leading duo travelling this week, fourth-placed Toulon will know a bonus-point win will take them close to the summit of the standings. But they will have to make do without Juan Smith, who has a hamstring injury.

Oyonnax have yet to win away from home this season but came painfully close to upsetting Stade Français in Paris last week.

Result in Round Eight: Oyonnax won 25-22
Kick-off: 18:30 (17.30 GMT)
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz


Stade Toulousain v USA Perpignan
Stade Ernest Wallon, Toulouse

Toulouse have zero room for error as they host their bogey team. Indeed, Toulouse have lost their last five games against Perpignan in all competitions!

Threatened with the prospect of missing the play-offs for the first time in the professional era, Guy Novès' side must get the job done this weekend.

But after victory in Biarritz and having pushed Castres close last week, Toulouse look to be regaining some form. They are also set to welcome back former All Black playmaker Luke McAlister.

Perpignan are coming off the back off a solid win over Brive that finally gave them some room to breathe. Still very much in the battle to avoid relegation, the Catalans will be happy to claim even a losing bonus points this weekend.

USAP won 19-18 in Toulouse lasy year, but that was their first win in the Ville Rose in 21 post-war matches.

Result in Round Eight: Perpignan won 20-16
Kick-off: 18.35 (17.35 GMT)
Referee: Salem Attalah


Biarritz Olympique v Aviron Bayonnais
Parc des Sports d'Aguilera, Biarritz

The weekend's action will climax on Sunday with a nail-biting Basque derby in Biarritz.

Relegation hangs over both clubs with Bayonne, third from bottom but having played two more games than Oyonnax, somewhat better off than tail-enders Biarritz, who are 18 points off safety.

Indeed, Biarritz look set to face the drop but have made the Basque derby their number one priority. And having claimed a shock win in Grenoble last week, the team in red finally have some confidence and momentum.

Biarritz's home form has been shocking this season, winning just three times and losing their last three.

But form elsewhere counts for nothing in Basque derbies. Bayonne have won two of the last three, with one draw.

Result in Round Eight: Bayonne won 27-19
Kick-off: 15:00 (14.00 GMT) on Sunday
Referee: Mathieu Raynal

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