Planet Rugby

Top 14 Preview: Round Nine

28th October 2011 11:00

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toulouse v stade

The big one: Toulouse v Stade Français

Round Nine of the Top 14 sees defending champions Toulouse up against traditional rivals Stade Français in this clash of the heavyweights.

Fixtures:

Friday, October 28

Castres v Racing-Metro

Saturday, October 29

Bayonne v Perpignan
Toulon v Brive
Clermont v Biarritz
Toulouse v Stade Francais
Agen v Montpellier

Standings:
1 Clermont 30
2 Castres 30
3 Toulouse 28
4 Toulon 24
5 Agen 20
6 Brive 18
7 Racing-Metro 17
8 Perpignan 17
9 Stade Français 15
10 Montpellier 13
11 Bordeaux-Begles 13
12 Lyon OU 12
13 Bayonne 11
14 Biarritz 10

Previews:

Castres Olympique v Racing-Métro 92
Stade Pierre Antoine, Castres

Three time champions Castres will look to build on their stunning start to the Top 14 campaign on Friday with an eighth successive win when they host Racing-Metro.

Castres, who have not won the title since 1993, are building on the good impression they made last season when they reached the play-offs only to be beaten by eventual finalists Montpellier.

They face a Racing-Metro side that has struggled to make an impact this season, failing to cope without their players who were away at the World Cup.

The expensively-assembled Paris-based outfit have won just three of their eight matches and went down to Toulon at home last Saturday which sees them in seventh spot, 13 points adrift of joint leaders Castres and Clermont.

Castres have virtually no injury problems and their only selection poser is whether to recall their record points scorer, full-back Romain Teulet, or leave the in-form outfit intact.

Castres have certainly not missed Teulet's kicking ability as South African Rory Kockott showed last Saturday when he landed seven penalties in the 21-16 victory over Montpellier.

Prediction: Unbeaten at home, Castres will be favourites against a team that have lost both fixtures at Castres since their return to top flight. Castres by seven!
Kick-off: 20.45 (18:45 GMT)
Referee: Patrick Pechambert


Saturday

Aviron Bayonnais v USA Perpignan
Stade Jean Dauger, Bayonne

Perpignan will look to end a run of three consecutive Top 14 defeats when they tackle 13th-placed Bayonne on Saturday.

The visitors have conceded 70 points in their last two matches, and shipped nine tries with just three points to show for their efforts.

Perpignan president Paul Goze admitted his club was suffering.

"It's a huge disappointment. Personally speaking, it's the toughest period I have ever spent as president, for the players also," he said.

"But it's at times like these that we have to stand together. We have played eight games but there are another 18 to play. The situation is difficult, but it's not desperate."

Meanwhile, second-from-the-bottom Bayonne sit firmly in the relegation zone with just two wins to their name. Perpignan will fancy their chances having beaten their hosts four out of the last six visits to Stade Jean Dauger.

Prediction: We can't see a fourth loss on the trot for USAP, surely? Perpignan by eight!
Kick-off: 16.15 (14:15 GMT)
Referee: Laurent Cardona


Bordeaux-Bègles v Lyon Olympique

An outbreak of parotiditis, a salivary gland infection, at Lyon has ruled out their trip to face Bordeaux-Begles this weekend.

A statement on Bordeaux's website said that national league bosses had agreed to a request from Lyon to postpone the match "because of an outbreak of parotiditis at Lyon".

The match could be postponed until February 2012 around the start of the Six Nations championship.


Clermont Auvergne vs Biarritz Olympique
Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin, Clermont Ferrand

The tournament leaders take on the basement dwellers when Clermont host Biarritz on Saturday.

Clermont clinched their seventh win in eight matches last weekend to go top of the Top 14.

Biarritz, are surprisingly the tailenders with just one win this season and desperate for their French stars to return to club action after their epic World Cup campaign.

Struggling five-time champions Biarritz sit at the bottom of the Top 14 table, and will need to start winning sooner rather than later in order to get their season back on track.

Ailing giants Biarritz failed to get off the bottom last week as they were held 15-15 at home by Lyon, the Top 14 newboys leading for a large part of the clash before a try by Biarritz's Argentinian World Cup returnee Manuel Carizza in the 61st minute brought them level.

It was the two-time European Cup finalists' second draw of the season from their eight matches ahead of the return of French stars Imanol Harinordoquy, Dimitri Yachvili, Fabien Barcella and Damien Traille.

Prediction: Should be easy pickings for the 2009 champs. Clermont by nine!
Kick-off: 16.15 (14:15 GMT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal


Stade Toulousain v Stade Français
Stadium de Toulouse

The highlight of the weekend will no doubt be when two of French rugby's traditional rivals go head to head at Stadium de Toulouse on Saturday.

The two teams have played each other 28 times, with Toulouse winning 14 and Stade 13 (and one match drawn). However, Stade Français have recorded just one win out of the last seven encounters between the two sides.

The visitors' record on the road this season hasn't been great - zero wins from their four matches away from home. However, they did at least manage to pick up crucial bonus points in three of them that keep them in the hunt.

Stade Français went down to Agen last weekend, while Toulouse ran in seven tries to beat Bordeaux-Begles 56-6

Prediction: The hosts are in fine form and tough to crack at home. Toulouse by five!
Kick-off: 16.15 (14:15 GMT)
Referee: Christophe Berdos


SU Agen v Montpellier HR
Stade Armandie, Agen

Agen host last year's runners-up Montpellier, with the hosts looking to make it back to back wins in the competition.

Agen - who flirted with relegation last season before assuring their place in the elite in the penultimate match - have been the surprise team this year.

Last week's 37-13 win over Stade Francais saw them enter the unlikely environs of the top six, and will be hoping to stay there with victory over struggling Montpellier.

Last season's beaten finalists lost their fifth game of 2011 after going down to Castres (21-16). And with only two wins a draw to show for their efforts, Montpol will be desperate for a win away from home.

Prediction: Tough one. Montpellier eased past Agen 35-6 last season, but we'll back the home side to cause another upset. Agen by three!
Kick-off: 16.15 (14:15 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gauzere

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , October 3
Bath vs Saracens19:45
Saturday , October 4
London Irish vs Northampton15:00
Harlequins vs London Welsh15:00
Gloucester vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , October 5
Sale vs Wasps14:00
Newcastle vs Exeter15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , October 4
South Africa vs New Zealand16:05
Argentina vs Australia23:40
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 3
Connacht vs Cardiff Blues19:35
Ulster vs Edinburgh19:35
Zebre vs Ospreys19:35
Saturday , October 4
Leinster vs Munster18:30
Sunday , October 5
Benetton Treviso vs Glasgow14:00
Scarlets vs Newport Gwent D'gons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , October 3
Oyonnax vs Toulon20:45
Saturday , October 4
Bordeaux-Begles vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Brive18:30
Bayonne vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Lyon18:30
Castres vs Grenoble18:30
Toulouse vs Stade Francais20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , October 3
Pumas vs Blue Bulls15:00
Sharks vs Lions19:10
Saturday , October 4
Cheetahs vs Western Province14:00
Griquas vs Eastern Province Kings15:00
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 28
Wasps 35 - 18 NewcastleWasps vs Newcastle Report
Exeter 36 - 13 HarlequinsExeter vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Newport Gwent D'gons 33 - 15 Benetton TrevisoNewport Gwent D
More Guinness PRO12 results
ITM Cup
Tasman 32 - 24 OtagoTasman vs Otago Report
Canterbury 26 - 28 SouthlandCanterbury vs Southland Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 27
Leicester 19 - 22 London IrishLeicester vs London Irish Report
Saracens 40 - 19 Sale SharksSaracens vs Sale Sharks Report
Northampton 31 - 24 BathNorthampton vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
South Africa 28 - 10 AustraliaSouth Africa vs Australia Report
Argentina 13 - 34 New ZealandArgentina vs New Zealand Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Zebre 13 - 6 UlsterZebre vs Ulster Report
Munster 14 - 19 OspreysMunster vs Ospreys Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulon 40 - 17 MontpellierToulon vs Montpellier Report
Grenoble 27 - 25 Racing Metro ParisGrenoble vs Racing Metro Paris Report
Brive 34 - 24 Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax 8 - 19 Clermont Auvergne
Stade Francais 43 - 10 La Rochelle
Lyon 28 - 18 Castres
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Sharks 53 - 24 Eastern Province KingsSharks vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Griquas 8 - 46 LionsGriquas vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Waikato 20 - 22 ManawatuWaikato vs Manawatu Report
North Harbour 28 - 25 Hawkes Bay
Counties Manukau 55 - 7 WellingtonCounties Manukau vs Wellington Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 26
London Welsh 10 - 46 GloucesterLondon Welsh vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 37 - 23 Cardiff BluesLeinster vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens418
2Northampton416
3Bath415
4Exeter414
5Wasps411