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
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs NorthamptonNewcastle vs Northampton Preview
Friday , September 26
London Welsh vs Gloucester19:45
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Saturday , September 20
Scarlets vs Benetton TrevisoScarlets vs Benetton Treviso Preview
Sunday , September 21
Ospreys vs EdinburghOspreys vs Edinburgh Preview
Friday , September 26
Edinburgh vs Scarlets19:35
Leinster vs Cardiff Blues19:35
Glasgow vs Connacht19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , September 20
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Clermont Auvergne vs LyonClermont Auvergne vs Lyon Preview
Castres vs Oyonnax18:30
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Montpellier vs Stade Francais20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 26
Cheetahs vs Blue Bulls19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Sunday , September 21
Otago vs WaikatoOtago vs Waikato Preview
Wellington vs TasmanWellington vs Tasman Preview
Wednesday, September 24
North Harbour vs Canterbury19:35
Thursday , September 25
Bay Of Plenty vs Northland19:35
Friday , September 26
Taranaki vs Auckland19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 20
Sale 46 - 8 London WelshSale vs London Welsh Report
Harlequins 26 - 23 WaspsHarlequins vs Wasps Report
London Irish 32 - 36 SaracensLondon Irish vs Saracens Report
Bath 45 - 0 LeicesterBath vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Newport Gwent D'gons 13 - 33 GlasgowNewport Gwent D
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Racing Metro Paris 27 - 16 ToulouseRacing Metro Paris vs Toulouse Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Western Province 36 - 12 GriquasWestern Province vs Griquas Report
Eastern Province Kings 22 - 37 CheetahsEastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs Report
Blue Bulls 15 - 26 SharksBlue Bulls vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Hawkes Bay 36 - 17 Bay Of Plenty
Manawatu 36 - 17 Southland
Auckland 32 - 7 North HarbourAuckland vs North Harbour Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester 22 - 25 ExeterGloucester vs Exeter Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Munster 31 - 5 ZebreMunster vs Zebre Report
Connacht 10 - 9 LeinsterConnacht vs Leinster Report
Cardiff Blues 9 - 26 UlsterCardiff Blues vs Ulster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Brive 13 - 53 ToulonBrive vs Toulon Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Lions 29 - 15 Pumas
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Counties Manukau 20 - 28 CanterburyCounties Manukau vs Canterbury Report
Thursday , September 18
Northland 20 - 31 TaranakiNorthland vs Taranaki Report
Wednesday, September 17
Southland 14 - 38 TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath314
2Saracens313
3Exeter310
4Leicester Tigers39
5Harlequins38