Preview: Top 14, Round 16

Date published: February 10 2017

Just two games on the Top 14 schedule this week and both are re-arranged as Racing 92, Bayonne, Pau and Lyon take the field.

Racing are off the pace in France and know that a bonus-point win is vital against Bayonne, while Pau and Lyon also hunt key points.



Racing 92 v Bayonne


Pau v Lyon

Racing 92 v Bayonne
Stade Yves-du-Manoir

It's been a hugely disappointing season for Racing 92 and picking up five points to put the pressure on the top six is a must on Saturday.

They have won just eight out of their sixteen league games in 2016/17, drawing one and losing seven, but now being out of the Champions Cup, their sole focus has to be on climbing the standings, with basement outfit Bayonne surely going to be rolled over at Stade Yves-du-Manoir.

Bayonne have not only been struggling domestically but were also the whipping boys in the Challenge Cup, losing all of their pool matches against Gloucester, La Rochelle and Treviso. This therefore is a welcome fixture for Racing 92 and following Saturday's match, their next game is also at home, against Brive, before they travel to struggling Grenoble, so here is a big opportunity for them to turn their season around.

They have made four changes to their backline from the last outing against Munster as James Hart and Franck Pourteau form the half-back pairing while Albert Vulivuli and Juan Imhoff start at centre and wing respectively.

It's an all-new front-row as Viliamu Afatia and Luc Ducalcon pack down either side of Dimitri Szarzewski while Gerbrandt Grobler comes into the second-row, with Bernard le Roux and Wenceslas Lauret named on the flanks.

Bayonne, led by Scot Johnnie Beattie, will hope Willie du Plessis manages the game efficiently whilst also utilising the backline threats of Gabiriele Lovobalavu, Romain Martial and Martín Bustos Moyano when possible.

The teams:

Racing 92: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Juan Imhoff, 13 Henry Chavancy, 12 Albert Vulivuli, 11 Teddy Thomas, 10 Franck Pourteau, 9 James Hart, 8 So'otala Fa'aso'o, 7 Bernard le Roux, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Gerbrandt Grobler, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Viliamu Afatia
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Khatchik Vartanov, 18 Manuel Carizza, 19 Chris Masoe, 20 Antoine Gibert, 21 Marc Andreu, 22 Joe Rokocoko, 23 Cedate Gomes Sa

Bayonne: 15 Martín Bustos Moyano, 14 Martin Laveau, 13 Félix Le Bourhis, 12 Gabiriele Lovobalavu, 11 Romain Martial, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Emmanuel Saubusse, 8 PJ van Lill, 7 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 6 Johnnie Beattie (c), 5 Adam Jaulhac, 4 Pablo Huete, 3 Aretz Iguiniz, 2 Manu Leiataua, 1 Jérôme Schuster
Replacements: 16 Simon Labouyrie, 17 Ramon Ayarza, 18 Tom Donnelly, 19 Jean-Jo Marmouyet, 20 Bastien Duhalde, 21 Raphaël Lagarde, 22 Bastien Fuster, 23 Toma Taufa

Last year's result: Did not play
Kick-off: 20:45 local (19:45 GMT)

Pau v Lyon
Stade du Hameau

A critical match takes place at Stade du Hameau as Pau and Lyon fight for points that could make or break their respective campaign.

Pau are going nicely in eighth position, five points off the top six, so a victory would certainly apply some heat on Toulon and Toulouse. Next week they will play host to thirteenth-placed Grenoble so after three successive Top 14 wins to end 2016, that could well become five.

Meanwhile, Lyon (33) want to put further breathing space between themselves and Grenoble (23) and Bayonne (20). However, they have not won on the road all season in the Top 14 and despite beating Racing 92 last time out, it's hard to see an end to their away blues this week.

Team news to follow…

The teams:

Pau: TBC

Lyon: TBC

Last year's result: Did not play
Kick-off: 12:30 local (11:30 GMT)