Planet Rugby

Preview: Stade Français v Montpellier

27th February 2014 17:28

Share:

Stade Francais Montpellier 2012

Big clash: Montpellier host Stade Français

Two play-off contenders go head to head in Montpellier on Friday as Stade Français travel to Stade Yves Du Manoir in confident mood.

Second-placed Stade Français will look to put pressure on Top 14 leaders Clermont when they visit one of their former head coaches, Fabien Galthié.

After several years in the doldrums, both on and off the pitch as financial problems bit deep, Stade look to be re-emerging as genuine title contenders under the stewardship of Argentinian Gonzalo Quesada.

They are currently four points behind Clermont, who play away at Bordeaux-Belges on Saturday.

Having won five French championships from 1998 to 2007, the last thanks to Galthié, when owned by flamboyant radio mogul Max Guazzini, Stade have not threatened the likes of Toulouse, Toulon or Clermont in recent years.

However, Quesada has blended a potent mix of older players, such as France captain Pascal Papé and Italian counterpart Sergio Parisse - who misses the trip to Montpellier - with young ones such as Jules Plisson and Hugo Bonneval, both capped in this season's Six Nations for the first time.

Stade will travel on the back of a last-minute win over relegation-threatened Oyonnax last weekend, a familiar feature of their play this season as they have competed until the final whistle where in previous years they tended to drop their heads in tight matches and fallen away.

"We have our feet on the ground but we are marching with our heads held high," said Quesada, who has been credited also for his excellent personal touch with the players.

Montpellier, who have become regular title contenders under Galthié, reaching the final in 2011, will welcome them having had their three-match winning run brought to a juddering halt by Clermont last Saturday.

While they played against 14 men for over half the match - after Morgan Parra was sent off for headbutting Rene Ranger - they were thrashed 42-16.

"It is hard to explain the inexplicable," said Galthié's assistant and former Argentinian and Clermont stalwart Mario Ledesma.

"We were taught a lesson by a great team and now we must learn from it and hopefully show that we have done so against Stade."

The players will need to have learnt their lesson as, with just six matches remaining, Montpellier cannot afford to slip up at home.

They are currently fifth, but are only three points clear of seventh-placed Toulouse - and only the top six make the end of season play-offs.

They will face a stiff examination as Stade, with three away wins this season, have the second best record, behind Grenoble, on their travels.

The hosts will be able to welcome back several of their players who were absent because of Six Nations duty, among them grizzled French prop Nicolas Mas Scrum-half Jonathan Pelissie also returns from injury.

However, they lost two influential players this week to injury in Argentinian Maximiliano Bustos and former Clermont star Anthony Floch.

Quesada, while mindful of the wear-and-tear on his international players, is also concerned that those who have stayed behind at the club have also played a lot of rugby and he is likely to start with French prop Rabah Slimane -- who was suspended for the Wales game after being redcarded against Italy -- and international team-mate Alexandre Flanquart.

Quesada is confident the poor morale and performances of the past few seasons has been firmly forgotten and that they are capable of beating any side.

"I feel that the team has emerged from a traumatic period and that all of a sudden it has a new face on it."

The teams:

Montpellier: 15 Pierre Berard. 14 Rene Ranger, 13 Thomas Combezou, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Timoci Nagusa, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Benoit Paillaugue, 8 Alex Tulou, 7 Mamuka Gorgodze, 6 Alexandre Bias, 5 Thibaut Privat, 4 Robins Tchale Watchou, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Charles Geli, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili,
Replacements: 16 Thomas Bianchin, 17 Yvan Watremez, 18 Mickael de Marco, 19 Paul Grant, 20 Jonathan Pelissie, 21 Yoan Audrin, 22 Benoit Sicart, 23 Paea Faanunu,

Stade Français: 15 Richard Kingi, 14 Julien Arias, 13 Paul Williams, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Jerome Fillol, 8 David Lyons, 7 Sylvain Nicolas, 6 Antoine Burban, 5 Gerhard Mostert, 4 Alexandre Flanquart, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Remi Bonfils, 1 Sakaria Taulafo,
Replacements: 16 Michael van Vuuren, 17 Hendrik van der Merwe, 18 Pascal Papé, 19 Nicolas Garrault, 20 Julien Dupuy, 21 Jules Plisson, 22 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 23 David Attoub.

Date: Friday, February 28
Venue: Stade Yves Du Manoir, Montpellier
Kick-off: 20.45 local (19.45 GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 28
Bath vs Harlequins19:45
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs Wasps15:00
Exeter vs Saracens16:30
Sunday , November 30
London Irish vs Gloucester13:00
London Welsh vs Northampton14:30
Newcastle Falcons vs Sale Sharks15:15
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South Africa14:30
England vs Australia14:30
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 28
Munster vs Ulster19:35
Cardiff Blues vs Treviso19:35
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs Edinburgh15:00
Leinster vs Ospreys17:15
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow Warriors vs Dragons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Toulon vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Lyon vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Toulouse vs Grenoble20:45
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens 24 - 31 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Georgia 35 - 24 JapanGeorgia vs Japan Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton830
2Exeter828
3Bath828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821