Planet Rugby

Top 14 Preview: Round Nine

26th October 2012 09:53

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Stade Francais centre Martin Rodriguez Gurruchaga 2ndR vies with Toulouse

Gala in Paris: Stade Francais v Toulouse

Stade Français and Toulouse face off in their annual gala fixture at the Stade de France on Saturday while leaders Toulon host Bayonne.

Fourth-placed Montpellier entertain fifth-placed Grenoble while Perpignan are at home to a Racing Metro side that have played a lot of attractive rugby with relatively little reward this season.

Castres travel to a resurgent Agen, while Bordeaux-Begles head to Mont-de-Marsan in the battle of the basement.

Fixtures:

Friday, October 26
Clermont v Biarritz - Preview here

Saturday, October 27
Stade Français v Toulouse
Agen v Castres Olympique
Mont-de-Marsan v Bordeaux-Bègles
Montpellier v Grenoble
Toulon v Bayonne
Perpignan v Racing Métro

Rugby Union betting odds

Standings:
1 Toulon 32
2 Toulouse 28
3 Clermont 28
4 Montpellier 23
5 Grenoble 22
6 Castres 20
7 Biarritz 19
8 Racing-Metro 19
9 Perpignan 16
10 Stade Français 15
11 Bayonne 15
12 Agen 14
13 Bordeaux 11
14 Mont-de-Marsan 1


Previews:

Stade Français Paris v Stade Toulousain
Stade de France, St. Denis (Paris)

Once the biggest fixture in French rugby, the clash of the two most decorated clubs in the country has lost some of its allure in recent years as Stade Français struggle to live up to their pedigree.

Chronically inconsistent and stuck at the wrong end of the standings, victory for the Parisians would not only be a massive morale booster, it could well kick-start their season.

Toulouse come off the back of two wins in Europe but will be without injured skipper Thierry Dusautoir and suspended hooker Christopher Tolofua. Gürtho Steenkamp, Gary Botha, Patricio Albacete and Louis Picamoles all missed training this week.

Dusautoir's replacement in the France squad is team-mate and fellow flanker Yannick Nyanga, who insisted that Toulouse would overcome a raft of injuries to put their best foot forward for the match at the 80,000-seater Stade de France.

"If matches were won each time just on the line-ups on paper, it would be too easy," said Nyanga.

"We would be unbeaten or not far from it, apart from Toulon, maybe, who have a lot of internationals. We're trying to find consistency and precision."

Results last season: Toulouse won both games: 22-18 at home; 18-15 in Paris
Prediction: The Stade de France is like a second home for les Rouge et Noirs. Toulouse by six points
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00)
Referee: Laurent Cardona


Stade Montois v Union Bordeaux-Bègles
Stade Guy Boniface, Mont-de-Marsan

Le match de la peur (the match of fear) as they like to say in France. Stone last Mont-de-Marsan will fancy their chances of claiming their first win of the season against a UBB side that have not been great on the road.

In fact, history points clearly in the hosts' favour as les Montois have won the last 11 games between these sides.

Mont-de-Marsan will also take confidence out of their narrow (28-30) loss to Stade Français three weeks ago.

UBB are without injured Kiwi prop Hikairo Forbes, wing Blair Connor and Pumas flyer Rafael Carballo but Aussie lock Cameron Treloar returns to the bench after a three-week ban.

Previous result: Mont-de-Marsan won 23-13 in 2011 (ProD2)
Prediction: A first win for Mont-de-Marsan could be on the cards. Mont-de-Marsan by a whisker
Kick-off: 18.30 (16.30 GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite


SU Agen v Castres Olympique
Stade Armandie, Agen

After four straight losses - including a hiding in Toulouse - to start their season, Agen have gotten the train back on the rails with three consecutive victories.

Les Agenais are nevertheless still flirting with the relegation zone and a clash against a Castres side bubbling with confidence after an impressive win over Northampton in Europe will be a tough assignment.

But Castres' record in Agen is not a good one with four draws and 16 losses in their last 20 visits to Stade Armandie.

Results last season: Agen won 23-12 at home; Castres won 30-11 at home
Prediction: It's tough to bet against Castres but Agen's home record cannot be ignored. Agen by less than five points
Kick-off: 18.30 (16.30 GMT)
Referee: Sébastien Clouté


Montpellier HR v FC Grenoble
Stade Yves Du Manoir, Montpellier

Few would have expected this game to be a mid-table clash but Grenoble continue to defy the odds. Montpellier showed how good they can be by thumping Sale in the Heineken Cup last week but will be wary of a Grenoble side travelling under zero pressure.

Grenoble are coming off the back of wins over Racing Métro and Perpignan but have yet to taste victory on the road.

Montpellier centre Thomas Combezou signed a new three-year contract this week.

Previous result: Montpellier 35-25 in 2005
Prediction: Les Héraultais are a solid bet at home. Montpellier by twelve points
Kick-off: 18.30 (16.30 GMT)
Referee: Sébastien Minery


RC Toulon v Aviron Bayonnais
Stade Felix Mayol, Toulon

The undisputed leaders with just one loss this season, Toulon will expect to cement their spot at the top of the table for another week against a visiting Basques side that has blown more cold than hot this term.

Bayonne are on an upward trend however following consecutive wins in the Top 14 (including the Basque derby) and two victories in the Challenge Cup.

The scoreline in last season's game at Stade Mayol suggests that the hosts should be easy winners though.

Toulon have a full squad to choose from and welcome back skipper Joe van Niekerk from a series of injuries.

Bayonne welcome back fly-half Jacques-Louis Potgieter but centre Manu Ahotaeiloa and prop Neemia Tialata are injured.

Results last season: Toulon won 50-10 at home; 12-12 draw in Bayonne
Prediction: RCT look unstoppable on home soil. Toulon by fifteen points
Kick-off: 18.30 (16.30 GMT)
Referee: Jean-Luc Rebollal


USA Perpignan v Racing-Métro 92
Stade Aimé Giral, Perpignan

Peprignan will be looking to leapfrog their visitors in the standings but will need to adjust to the intensity of facing one of the Top 14's big guns after two easy wins over minnows in the Challenge Cup.

Racing travel south desperate to avoid a third straight loss in domestic competition and will have to show more than their disappointing display against Saracens in Brussels.

USAP have rested lock Robins Tchale-Watchou.

Results last season: 14-14 draw in Perpignan; Racing won 47-23 at home
Prediction: Tough one to call but USAP have looked better at home this season. Perpignan by three points
Kick-off: 20.40 (18.40 GMT)
Referee: Cédric Marchat

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
ITM Cup
Wednesday, October 1
Hawkes Bay 36 - 14 WellingtonHawkes Bay vs Wellington Report
More ITM Cup results
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
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens418
2Northampton416
3Bath415
4Exeter414
5Wasps411