Planet Rugby

Top 14 preview: Round 13

21st December 2012 08:17

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Noa Nakaitaci Clermont T 14 2012

On the wing: Clermont's Noa Nakaitaci

Top 14 rugby is back on the schedule this, week with big games in Round 13 pitting Stade Français against Biarritz and Perpignan taking on Montpellier.

League leaders Toulon travel to Agen while their nearest challengers, Clermont, kick-off the action on Friday with a tricky trip to Bordeaux-Begles.

Fixtures:

Friday, December 21
Bordeaux-Begles vs Clermont Auvergne

Saturday , December 22
Grenoble vs Toulouse
Stade Francais vs Biarritz
Bayonne vs Mont de Marsan
Castres vs Racing Metro
Perpignan vs Montpellier
Agen vs Toulon

Standings:

1 Toulon 47
2 Toulouse 42
3 Clermont Auvergne 41
4 Castres 37
5 Montpellier 36
6 Grenoble 30
7 Biarritz 28
8 Perpignan 26
9 Racing Metro 25
10 Stade Francais 24
11 Bayonne 21
12 Bordeaux-Begles 17
13 Agen 16
14 Mont de Marsan 6


Bordeaux-Begles vs Clermont Auvergne
Stade Jacques Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux

Clermont return to Top 14 duty full of confidence after overturning Heineken Cup champions Leinster both home and away over the past few weeks.

Currently sitting third in the domestic table though, they will hope to temporarily close the gap on league leaders Toulon (six points clear) against Bordeaux on Friday.

Team selection sees several changes made following a couple of bruising battles with Leinster. Earning call-ups to the line-up are players such as Benson Stanley, Regan King, David Skrela and Julian Malzieu. Elvis Vermeulen will skipper the side from the back-row while there's a start for hooker Ti'i Paulo.

Kick-off: 20:50 (19:50 GMT)
Referee: Patrick Pechambert
Assistant referees: Jérôme Lamirand, Laurent Sclafer
Television match official: Daniel Irazoqui


Grenoble vs Toulouse
Stade Lesdiguières, Grenoble

Toulouse will be keen to put in a much-improved performance at Stade Lesdiguières from the one that saw them lose to the Ospreys last weekend.

The rouge et noir came off second best to the Welsh region in Swansea, with scrum-half Luke Burgess at a loss to explain why they fell to the pivotal Pool defeat.

Meanwhile, head coach Guy Noves said ahead of this week's clash that he was full of admiration for Grenoble who were promoted to the Top 14 last season.

"Grenoble were very effective in the close season making some excellent signings," he said.

"They are a very complete team and they are fully concentrated on the championship as they are less involved than us in Europe.

"That means that they have a time of recovery which is longer than for our players and they can put in extra preparation work which always helps promote a good side."

Kick-off: 15:00 (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Cyril Lafon
Assistant referees: Salem Attalah, René Bordeneuve
Television match official: Philippe Bonhoure


Stade Francais vs Biarritz
Stade Charlety

It has been an eventful few weeks at Biarritz and this round they travel to Paris for what is their first game under the new Didier Faugeron and Laurent Rodriguez regime.

BO's recent Heineken Cup victory over Connacht should bring confidence to the side as they look to seal what would be a great victory.

Stade Français go into the game boosted by the news that former All Black hooker Aled de Malmanche has penned a three-year deal at the Paris outfit.

Kick-off: 18:30 (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite
Assistant referees: Adrien Descottes, Benoît Escoubet


Bayonne vs Mont de Marsan
Stade Jean Dauger, Bayonne

Bayonne will be desperate to pick up all five points against the basement side when the duo meet at Stade Jean Dauger.

They must be wary, however, that Mont-de-Marsan's only win so far this season came on the road against Racing Metro - which proved are more than capable of mixing it with the big boys.

Kick-off: 18:30 (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Jean-Luc Rebollal
Assistant referees: Laurent Millotte, Sébastien Hebert
Television match official: Hervé Dubes


Castres vs Racing Metro
Stade Pierre Antoine

Fourth meets ninth on Saturday as Castres set about improving from their somewhat poor performance that saw them sneak a victory over Glasgow.

While they won, it was not a showing the Stade Pierre Antoine faithful would have been impressed by as the Warriors were ahead for long stages.

Racing ,meanwhile, enjoyed a good win at Edinburgh and will thus enter with confidence as they look to avoid an eighth defeat in the penultimate round of 2012.

Kick-off: 18:30 (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Sébastien Clouté
Assistant referees: Tual Trainini, Christophe Clavere
Television match official: Jean-Marie Piraveau


Perpignan vs Montpellier
Stade Aimé Giral

Both these two sides enter on the back of European wins as USAP defeated Worcester to move level on points with the Warriors in Pool 2 of the Amlin Challenge Cup while Montpellier were impressive in beating Cardiff Blues.

Montpol racked up plenty of metres against the Blues in that Heineken Cup win, with Timoci Nagusa and Johnnie Beattie always a threat so they will hope to transfer European form to the domestic scene against the Catalans.

Kick-off: 18:30 (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Christophe Berdos
Assistant referees: Jean-Pierre Matheu, Dominique Parrini
Television match official: Laurent Valin


Agen vs Toulon
Stade Armandie, Agen

Barring an injury to Bakkies Botha, league leaders Toulon could not be in better shape as they prepare to face Agen at Stade Armandie in the late game.

Their 62-0 victory over Sale Sharks this past weekend was a glaring reminder to those in Europe and France that they can challenge on both fronts.

Agen's most recent outing resulted in a 39-9 win over Bucuresti but it is much sterner opposition they will face-off with on Saturday, which is illustrated by the heavyweights replacing Frederic Michalak with Jonny Wilkinson. Botha's blow is cushioned by the return in the high-quality back-row group of Chris Masoe.

The hosts have included new loan signing from Western Force, Ben Seymour, in their squad as they look to cause one of the shocks of the Top 14 season - and Toulon coach Pierre Mignoni had a warning for his talented and expensive squad, saying that they could not afford to take Agen for granted this week.

"That win (over Sale) gave us a lot of pleasure. When you play like that you can really achieve great things, But you have to look at who you are playing against and it is time to pass onto the next challenge," he said.

Mignoni will no doubt remind his players that their three last vists to Agen all resulted in defeats, the last one being a 22-13 upset result in April.

Kick-off: 20:40 (19:40 GMT)
Referee: Cédric Marchat
Assistant referees: Christophe Mallet, Thierry Le Grand
Television match official: Eric Gonthier

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Heineken Cup
Saturday , April 26
Saracens vs Clermont Auvergne15:40
Sunday , April 27
Toulon vs Munster15:30
More Heineken Cup fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Saturday , April 26
Glasgow vs EdinburghGlasgow vs Edinburgh Preview
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Amlin Challenge Cup
Friday , April 25
Northampton vs HarlequinsNorthampton vs Harlequins Preview
Sunday , April 27
Wasps vs Bath13:00
More Amlin Challenge Cup fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 25
Blues vs WaratahsBlues vs Waratahs Preview
Brumbies vs ChiefsBrumbies vs Chiefs Preview
Sharks vs HighlandersSharks vs Highlanders Preview
Saturday , April 26
Hurricanes vs Reds19:35
Western Force vs Bulls17:40
Cheetahs vs Stormers17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 20
Northampton 36 - 21 London IrishNorthampton vs London Irish Report
Newcastle 18 - 23 SaracensNewcastle vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Cardiff Blues 17 - 13 ScarletsCardiff Blues vs Scarlets Report
Newport Gwent D'gons 10 - 20 Ospreys
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , April 19
Bath 32 - 20 WorcesterBath vs Worcester Report
Exeter 12 - 55 SaleExeter vs Sale Report
Wasps 38 - 30 GloucesterWasps vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Zebre 26 - 13 EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Report
Connacht 23 - 32 MunsterConnacht vs Munster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Oyonnax 19 - 19 ToulouseOyonnax vs Toulouse Report
Biarritz 19 - 13 Brive
Perpignan 31 - 46 ToulonPerpignan vs Toulon Report
Racing Metro Paris 22 - 6 Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Stade Francais 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Grenoble 21 - 21 Bayonne
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 17 - 18 CrusadersChiefs vs Crusaders Report
Sharks 19 - 8 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
Waratahs 19 - 12 BullsWaratahs vs Bulls Report
Stormers 18 - 3 LionsStormers vs Lions Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins 24 - 20 LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Leinster 62 - 7 Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Report
Glasgow 27 - 9 UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Castres 22 - 15 MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Hurricanes 39 - 20 BluesHurricanes vs Blues Report
Melbourne Rebels 22 - 16 Western Force
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens2080
2Northampton2071
3Bath2064
4Leicester Tigers2064
5Harlequins2058