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Top 14 Preview: Round 11, Saturday

01st November 2013 14:01

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sofiane guitoune perpignan

Top try scorer: Sofiane Guitoune

Saturday's Top 14 action features five matches across Round 11 as the French juggernaut rolls on into November.

Toulouse will look to secure their spot at the top of the table away to struggling Brive, as Biarritz desperately search for their second win at home to Racing.

Perpignan are the latest team travelling to Oyonnax, as Montpellier host in-form Grenoble.

Brive v Toulouse
Stade Amedee Domenech

Strugglers Brive will have plenty of passionate support behind them when they entertain league leaders Toulouse.

Few expected Brive to produce anything substantial away to Clermont and yet they came away with a losing bonus point in Round 10 - pushing Clermont's record winning streak to the limit as they trailed 26-23 with 15 minutes left before succumbing.

The key to their competitiveness was the boot of Gaetan Germain, currently fifth in the Top 14 points scoring rankings this season with 104. Brive will need him to be deadly accurate to get anything out of Saturday's game.

Toulouse rallied against a weakened Toulon after trailing 12-0 at half-time to move top of the league, edging out their rivals including Clermont and Perpignan as they look for a second title in three years.

The key to their early success has been a measly defence, having only conceded 161 points all season. Brive by contrast have conceded 215.

Results last season: -
Prediction: Away win. Toulouse by 15 points.
Kick-off: 15:05 (14:05 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gauzere


Biarritz v Racing Métro 92
Parc des Sports Aguilera

Biarritz's performances this season have ranged from alarming to appalling, so perhaps it was no surprise to see them leave Castres last week fully embarrassed after losing 39-0.

Heineken Cup finalists only three years ago, Biarritz are currently 12 points clear of safety at the bottom of the league following nine losses from ten matches. Their points difference is -126.

That makes them an easy target for Racing, who welcome back Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton.

Triumphant in the Parisian derby against Stade Francais last weekend, prop Luc Ducalcon was the unlikely hero as he scored the game's only try at the Stade de France.

Racing's record has been mixed this season with six wins and four losses, but they should be comfortable here.

Results last season: Racing Metro 13-12 Biarritz, Biarritz 11-23 Racing Metro
Prediction: Away win. Racing by 25 points.
Kick-off: 18:30 (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Salem Attalah


Oyonnax v Perpignan
Stade Charles Mathon

The surprise package this season in the Top 14 after defeating Clermont, Castres and Toulon at home, Oyonnax are just beginning to slow down.

Two losses since their giant-killing moment against the Heineken Cup champions have seen Oyonnax slowly slip down the table and into the relegation zone, although a nine-point buffer remains between themselves and Biarritz.

Benjamin Urdapilleta has been a reliable source of points and his Argentinian team-mate Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino is a smart new signing - but the wins need to keep rolling in to avoid a dogfight with Bayonne and Brive.

Perpignan on the other hand are flying. They have one of the league's top points scorers in James Hook (104) and the league's top try scorer in the soon-to-be France international Sofiane Guitoune.

Currently on a three-game winning streak since being thumped 31-6 by Brive, USAP can go one better than Toulon and Clermont by winning in the east of France.

Results last season: -
Prediction: Away win. Perpignan by 12 points.
Kick-off: 18:30 (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Jerome Garces


Montpellier v Grenoble
Stade Yves Du Manoir

Tucked into the middle of a packed group of teams chasing Toulouse, Montpellier fans are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Rene Ranger and Robert Ebersohn on Monday.

Defeat to Bayonne away from home last Friday was a disappointment but Montpellier's recent home form has been excellent; defeating Toulouse 25-0 before scoring 43 points against Clermont and 45 against Oyonnax in their last two matches.

Grenoble though do not pose a simple challenge. With six wins from their opening ten matches, the visitors find themselves only four league points behind Toulouse yet with a negative points difference of -32.

Unbeaten in the league since the 14th of September, Grenoble pipped Racing away from home and picked up a losing bonus point against Clermont.

Surprisingly, Grenoble's tally of three losses is the lowest number of defeats in the league this season. Montpellier will be truly tested.

Results last season: Montpellier 23-6 Grenoble, Grenoble 9-16 Montpellier
Prediction: Home win. Montpellier by 15 points.
Kick-off: 18:30 (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Sebastian Cloute


Stade Français v Bayonne
Stade Yves Du Manoir

Stade remain in the league's top six despite that loss to Racing, still within four points of top spot.

Where Stade differ though from their rivals comes down to points scored. The total of 196 is surprisingly low considering the presence of elite kickers Jerome Porical and Morne Steyn in their squad. Montpellier, Toulon and Clermont have all scored more than 260.

Big wins this season have come over Perpignan, Clermont and Montpellier as Stade have finally become competitive again, which does make them favourites against Bayonne.

The Basque outfit have said good riddance to Mike Phillips and backed it up with last Friday's win over Montpellier.

Martin Bustos Moyano was particularly exceptional with the boot and Bayonne will rely on his prowess to win them tight matches.

Phillips or no Phillips though, Bayonne's current position is precarious - just three points separate them from the relegation places.

Results last season: Bayonne 24-11 Stade, Stade 21-13 Bayonne
Prediction: Home win. Stade by 8 points.
Kick-off: 20:30 (19:30 GMT)
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz

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