Planet Rugby

Preview: Biarritz v Perpignan

03rd October 2013 15:39

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Perpignan s fly half James Hook is tackled by Biarritz

James Hook: At full-back for USAP

Stone-last Biarritz are facing desperate times as they host Perpignan in Friday's Top 14 clash at Parc des Sports d'Aguilera.

Biarritz have had an horrendous start to the season, winning just once in eight games, and are now facing a long slog to avoid relegation.

The stats don't lie - the Biarritz have scored the fewest points and have conceded the most of any side in France so far this season.

It's thus not a great time to welcome in-form Perpignan to the Basque Country. The Catalans are seventh but just six points off the lead with four wins from their eight starts.

USAP have also beaten heavyweights Montpellier (28-16) and Toulouse (20-16) at home this year. That said, Jame Hook and co. have yet to win on the road this season and their 31-6 loss away to Brive a fortnight ago will give Friday's hosts some hope.

Indeed, Perpignan have won just once in Biarritz since 2004.

Pelu Taele, who was sent off in last week's Basque derby with Bayonne, misses out due to suspension. Biarritz will also been without hooker Arnaud Heguy, president Serge Blanco and forwards coach Laurent Rodriguez after the trio were banned for abusing the match officials in the loss to Toulon in Round Five. Imanol Harinordoquy is not included but Dimitri Yachvili starts.

Wales lock Luke Charteris has been forced to delay his return from injury and won't be in the Perpignan side. Skipper Bertrand Guiry, prop Sona Taumalolo and centre David Marty are also injury absentees. Former Sharks wing Wandile Mjekevu is suspended.

Lifeimi Mafi returns from suspension and starts but lock Romain Taofifenua is expected to be rested.

Results last season: Biarritz 15-3 Perpignan; Perpignan 33-28 Biarritz

The teams:

Biarritz:15 Paul Couet Lannes, 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya, 13 Seremaia Burotu, 12 Damien Traille, 11 Johan Pietersen, 10 Daniel Waenga, 9 Dimitri Yachvili, 8 Ueleni Fono, 7 Tanguy Molcard, 6 Benoit Guyot, 5 Addison Lockley, 4 Erik Lund, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Jean Philippe Genevois, 1 Alexandre Menini,
Replacements: 16 Romain Ruffenach, 17 Thomas Synaeghel, 18 Mathias Marie, 19 Joshua Furno, 20 Yann Lesgourgues, 21 Julien Peyrelongue, 22 Benoit Baby, 23 Eugene van Staden,

Perpignan: 15 James Hook, 14 Joffrey Michel, 13 Lifeimi Mafi, 12 Sione Piukala, 11 Sofiane Guitoune, 10 Camille Lopez 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Justin Purll, 7 Alasdair Strokosch, 6 Jean Pierre Perez, 5 Guillaume Vilaceca, 4 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 3 Giorge Jgenti, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Kisi Pulu,
Replacements: 16 Romain Terrain, 17 Sebastien Taofifenua, 18 Daniel Leo, 19 Luke Narraway, 20 Nicolas Durand, 21 Tommaso Benvenuti, 22 Richard Haughton, 23 Paulica Ion.

Date: Friday, October 4
Venue: Parc des Sports d'Aguilera, Biarritz
Kick-off: 20.45 local (18.45 GMT)
Referee: Dudley Phillips (Irland)

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