Planet Rugby

Top 14 preview: Round 14

28th December 2012 12:52

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Vincent Clerc denies Max Evans with a try-scoring tackle

3rd v 4th: Toulouse tackle Castres

It's Round 14 of the Top 14, as the French championship continues this weekend with a number of interesting encounters to look forward to.

Castres can leapfrog Toulouse with a win over the defending champions, while Toulon will be looking to extend their lead at the summit.

Fixtures:

Sunday, 30th December:

Castres vs Toulouse
Toulon vs Perpignan
Racing Metro Paris vs Agen
Montpellier vs Stade Francais
Mont de Marsan vs Biarritz
Grenoble vs Bordeaux-Begles
Clermont Auvergne vs Bayonne

Standings:

1 Toulon 51
2 Clermont 44
3 Toulouse 42
4 Castres 42

5 Montpellier 36
6 Grenoble 34
7 Perpignan 30
8 Stade Français 28
9 Biarritz 28
10 Bayonne 26
11 Racing Metro 25

12 Bordeaux Begles 18
13 Agen 17
14 Mont-de-Marsan 6

Clermont Auvergne v Bayonne
Parc Des Sports Marcel Michelin

Tenth-placed Bayonne will have it all to do when they come up against Clermont at the 2010 champions' fortress.

The visitors will attempt to become the first team to inflict a defeat over Clermont at their home ground for the first time in three years.

Vern Cotter's side are second on the standings - two points ahead of Toulouse and three behind Toulon - having edged Bordeaux-Begles last Friday, while Bayonne also have a win behind them after thrashing Mont de Marsan.

Kick-off: 15:00 (14:00 GMT)
Referee: tba
Assistant referees: Mourad Noirot, Philippe Gorbenko
Television match official: Bernard Dal Maso


Grenoble v Bordeaux-Begles
Stade Lesdiguières

The tournament's newbies will look to extend their impressive run of victories at home to 23 when they host Bordeaux on Sunday.

Grenoble have surprised everyone but themselves with their winning form in the competition since returning to the elite league.

Their shock win over Toulouse was their eighth victory in the Top 14 thus far this season, and will fancy their chances of another scalp in the form of 12th-placed Bordeaux-Begles this weekend.

Kick-off: 15:00 (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Jean-Pierre Matheu
Assistant referees: Alexandre Ruiz, Bruno Fiche
Television match official: Gérard Borreani


Mont de Marsan v Biarritz
Stade Guy Boniface

Biarritz are on the road for a second successive week, but should return home with a win next to their name this time round.

BO went down 36-23 to Stade Francais last week, which also cost them eighth spot. They can, however, reclaim that position on the ladder and perhaps go even better if they can bag maximum points against the tournament's celler-dwellers.

Kick-off: 15:00 (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Jérôme Garcès
Assistant referees: Christophe Dutreuilh, C Graviou
Television match official: J Piraveau

Racing Metro v Agen
Stade Yves Du Manoir (Colombes)

The Paris club will be banking on maximum points against second-last Agen when the two struggling sides go head to head.

Both outfits suffered defeats last weekend, with Racing going down to Castres and Agen losing to Toulon.

Racing are only two places above Agen on the Top 14 ladder, and desperate to get their faltering campaign back on track.

Kick-off: 15:00 (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Laurent Cardona
Assistant referees: Jean-Luc Rebollal, Patrick Beuriot
Television match official: Jean-Marie Pellaprat


Castres v Toulouse
Stade Pierre Antoine

Toulouse will be looking to bounce back from last week's shock defeat to Grenoble when they take on Castres.

The two-time defending champions slipped to their fifth defeat in all competitions this season as Grenoble beat them 15-6.

It was the first time in four-and-a-half years that the four-time Heineken Cup champions had suffered two successive defeats, having lost to Welsh side Ospreys in their European Cup clash a fortnight ago.

Toulouse - whose five defeats have all been away from home - are now nine points adrift of leaders Toulon and need to beat Castres and hope for a Perpignan win in order to close the gap.

Kick-off: 16:00 (15:00 GMT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal
Assistant referees: Sébastien Minery, Jean-Michel Schutz
Television match official: Vincent Azoulay


Montpellier v Stade Francais
Stade Yves Du Manoir (Montpellier)

Stade Francais are out to make it back-to-back wins in the Top 14, whilst Montpol will be looking to avoid back-to-back defeats.

Another win for the home side will see them jump into seventh spot on the standings, edging them ever closer to a play-offs spot. However, they will need Toulon to do them a favour and beat Perpignan.

Montpellier, however, will be a tough nut to crack at home but could drop to sixth if they fail to make home ground advantage count.

Kick-off: 18:05 (17:05 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gaüzere
Assistant referees: Patrick Pechambert, Christophe Malterre
Television match official: Bruno Bessot


Toulon v Perpignan
Stade Mayol

Toulon are aiming to claim their 12th win of the season and maintain their position at the top of the table when Perpignan come to town.

The hosts currently have a handy seven-point lead in the Top 14 standings, thanks to last week's closer than expected win over struggling Agen.

Perpignan proved they won't be pushovers following their victory over Montpellier with Wales international James Hook scoring 20 points for the home side at the Stade Aime Giral.

However, the Catalan giants were dealt a big blow with news that Wales lock Luke Charteris could miss the rest of the season due to ruptured medial knee ligaments.

Kick-off: 20:45 (19:45 GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite
Assistant referees: Cyril Lafon, Pascal Ubeda
Television match official: Daniel Gillet

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