Planet Rugby

Top 14 Preview: Round 11

24th November 2011 11:18

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Worcester v Stade Francais Paul Sackey

Back in: Paul Sackey

After a two-week break, Top 14 rugby in France is back on the schedule this week with three games on Friday and four following on a pivotal Saturday.

Fixtures:

Friday, November 25
Bayonne v Lyon
Racing Métro v Biarritz
Perpignan v Stade Français

Saturday, November 26
Brive v Toulouse
Montpellier v Clermont
Castres v Toulon
Agen v Bordeaux-Bègles

Standings:
1 Toulouse 36
2 Clermont 35
3 Castres 31
4 Toulon 28
5 Racing Metro 25
6 Agen 24
7 Stade Francais 21
8 Brive 19
9 Perpignan 19
10 Bordeaux-Begles 17
11 Bayonne 15
12 Montpellier 14
13 Lyon 12
14 Biarritz 10

Previews:

Aviron Bayonnais v Lyon Olympique
Stade Jean Dauger, Bayonne

Victory for Bayonne would breathe a huge sigh of relief around Stade Jean Dauger as a gap would open up between the side in blue and the basement scrappers. They come into this game with a win under their belt so confidence shouldn't be an issue. However even in defeat last week to Toulon, Lyon showed that they cannot be underestimated and will themselves be eager to get four points that would, in fact, send them above Bayonne.

Prediction: Bayonne at home should see them win by 10!
Kick-off: 20.00 (19.00 GMT)
Referee: Sébastien Cloute

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

Racing will be without Guillaume Boussès after the centre fractured his fibula in their epic clash with Edinburgh last week. The Parisians expect Boussès to be sidelined for at least a month with the problem as they return to domestic action following two defeats in Europe, their first being at home to the Blues. Racing will be hoping to get back to winning ways at Stade Yves Du Manoir against the league's bottom side, although Biarritz have looked a much-improved outfit of late. Team news might affect that form though as key players Imanol Harinordoquy, Dimitri Yachvili, Iain Balshaw, Jerome Thion, Raphaël Lakafia and Erik Lund are ruled out, with medical joker Eugene van Staden set to play. Racing-Metro's Nicolas Durand will start ahead of season mainstay until now Mathieu Lorée at number nine.

Prediction: Too many injuries for BO. Racing by 12!
Kick-off: 20.30 (19.30 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gauzere

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USA Perpignan v Stade Français Paris
Stade Aimé Giral, Perpignan

Stade Français will be boosted by the return of experienced prop David Attoub, who is back in action for the first time since November 5. Attoub should join Rodrigo Roncero and Dimitri Szarzewski in the front-row. It is expected that Michael Cheika will also recall Julian Arias, Martin Rodriguez, Paul Williams and Paul Sackey, as Paul Warwick reverts to full-back. At half-back, Julien Dupuy and Felipe Contepomi are expected to control the Parisians.

Prediction: Perpignan in turmoil right now. Stade Français by 4!
Kick-off: 20.45 (19.45 GMT)
Referee: Jean-Luc Rebollal

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CA Brive Corrèze v Stade Toulousain
Stade Amédée Domenech, Brive

Toulouse will be without lock forward Romain Millo-Chluski for a period of three weeks after the French international sustained an injury at Connacht. The league leaders are currently seventeen points adrift of their hosts after ten rounds and are expected to pick up a victory. However, Brive will be buoyed after their Amlin Challenge Cup success away to Agen and home advantage could give them a slim chance. But that is all their chance to win is, slim.

Prediction: The leaders to win again. Toulouse by 16!
Kick-off: 14.15 (13.15 GMT)
Referee: Patrick Pechambert

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Montpellier HR v ASM Clermont Auvergne
Stade Yves Du Manoir, Montpellier

Arguably the showdown of the weekend comes from Stade Yves Du Manoir as European performances will have done Montpol a power of good before facing off with les Jaunards. The hosts have recaptured their form of last season and the catalyst for it seems to be their back-row coupled with excellent game-management from Francois Trinh-Duc. They will need him to be on the money this weekend though as poor kicking could allow Clermont's newest signing, Sitiveni Sivivatu, an opportunity to mark his debut with something to smile about. Clermont currently sit just a solitary point off competition pace-setters Toulouse.

Prediction: Close one, but Clermont by 5!
Kick-off: 14.15 (13.15 GMT)
Referee: Cédric Marchat

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Castres Olympique v RC Toulon
Stade Pierre Antoine, Castres

Toulon will be missing number eight Leonardo Senatore as the Argentine fractured his nose in Amlin Challenge Cup action against Lyon. He joins Bakkies Botha, Rory Lamont and Geoffroy Messina in not featuring this weekend against Castres. Speaking of the hosts, after going on a seven-match winning run, Castres have lost their last four games - twice in the Top 14 and twice in the Heineken Cup - but will be motivated by the chance of going second.

Prediction: The visitors have prepared for this. Toulon by 2!
Kick-off: 16.15 (15.15 GMT)
Referee: Jérôme Garces

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SU Agen v Bordeaux-Bègles
Stade Armandie, Agen

Agen will no doubt be smarting after their Amlin Challenge Cup home defeat to Brive but have themselves an immediate opportunity to get back on the horse with Bordeaux arriving at Stade Armandie. Their visitors also come into this one off the back of a loss as they fell in Bayonne, a result that has all but ended their European challenge. Agen will be desperate to pick up a win on Saturday, not least because it would apply more heat on Toulon and Racing.

Prediction: Agen to win by 8!
Kick-off: 20.45 (19.45 GMT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal

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