Top 14 Preview: Round 7

Date published: October 1 2016

Entering Round Seven of the Top 14 the pick of the games could both be on Sunday with contenders facing off, but there is plenty of intrigue across the weekend.

It kicks off on Saturday in the Massif Central where Clermont will look to bounce back from their loss to Toulon at home to Castres in a clash between two of the top four.

Then Pau welcome Bordeaux-Bègles, while Pro D2 promoted pair Bayonne and Lyon go head-to-head.

Saturday’s games continue with Toulouse looking to get back into the play-off picture against bottom side Grenoble, while the champions Racing 92 face the unenviable task of going to Brive.

Then on Sunday leaders La Rochelle travel to 2015 champions Stade Français before a repeat of last year’s Top 14 semi-final between Toulon and Montpellier.



Clermont v Castres
Pau v Bordeaux-Bègles
Bayonne v Lyon
Toulouse v Grenoble
Brive v Racing 92


Stade Français v La Rochelle
Toulon v Montpellier

Clermont v Castres
Stade Marcel Michelin, Clermont-Ferrand 

Clermont lost for the first time on Sunday, but with a number of players absent, they were not far off upsetting Toulon.

Camille Lopez’s early introduction boosted them, while Patricio Fernandez showed that he is a good enough athlete to play a number of roles.

Against a Castres team fresh from a win over champions Racing 92, Clermont will have to be very careful.

But such is their strength at home and the quality of their squad that this should see Les Jaunards get back on track. 

The teams:

Clermont: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 David Strettle, 13 Aurélien Rougerie, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Noa Nakaitaci, 10 Patricio Fernández, 9 Ludovic Radosavljevic, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Alexandre Lapandry, 6 Judicael Cancoriet, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Etienne Falgoux
Replacements: 16 Yohan Beheregaray, 17 Raphaël Chaume, 18 Arthur Iturria, 19 Damien Chouly, 20 Morgan Parra, 21 Damian Penaud, 22 Isaia Toeava, 23 Davit Zirakashvili 

Castres: 15 Geoffrey Palis, 14 Julien Caminati, 13 Thomas Combezou, 12 Florian Vialelle, 11 Pierre Berard, 10 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Alex Tulou, 7 Steve Mafi, 6 Alexandre Bias, 5 Victor Moreaux, 4 Loic Jacquet, 3 Daniel Kotze, 2 Jody Jenneker, 1 Antoine Tichit
Replacements: 16 Brice Mach, 17 Mihaita Lazar, 18 Christophe Samson, 19 Anthony Jelonch, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Julien Dumora, 22 Afusipa Taumoepeau, 23 Eric Sione

Last year’s result: Clermont won 42-13
Kick-off: 14:45 local (13:45 GMT)
Referee: Tual Trainini

Pau v Bordeaux-Bègles
Stade du Hameau, Pau

Pau really needed a win last week and they got it in Grenoble leaving them level on points with Bordeaux.

That was done without the influential Conrad Smith and he is again absent this weekend.

And Bordeaux will be looking to take full advantage, most notably through former Wallaby winger Adam Ashley-Cooper who scored a hat-trick last weekend.

The partnership of Baptiste Serin and Ian Madigan could flourish and when those two are fit and firing they are among the most exciting half-back duos in the league.

The next test is to do it on the road against a team like Pau. 

The teams: 

Pau: 15 Charly Malie, 14 Louis Dupichot, 13 Tom Taylor, 12 Jale Vatubua, 11 Bastien Pourailly, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Julien Tomas, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Paddy Butler, 5 Julien Pierre, 4 Fabrice Metz, 3 Malik Hamadache, 2 Mehdi Boundjema, 1 Jeremy Hurou
Replacements: 16 Quentin Lespiaucq, 17 Jamie Mackintosh, 18 Daniel Ramsay, 19 Abdellatif Boutaty, 20 Sean Dougall, 21 Thibault Daubagna, 22 Watisoni Votu, 23 Matthew Tierney

Bordeaux-Bègles: 15 Metuisela Talebula, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Josaia Vakacegu, 12 Julien Rey, 11 Blair Connor, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Loann Goujon, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Louis-Benoît Madaule, 5 Jan Andre Marais, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Ole Avei, 1 Jefferson Poirot
Replacements: 16 Beñat Auzqui, 17 Sébastien Taofifenua, 18 Cyril Cazeaux, 19 Hugh Chalmers, 20 Yann Lesgourgues, 21 Lionel Beauxis, 22 Romain Lonca, 23 Marc Clerc

Last year’s result: Bordeaux won 15-3
Kick-off: 18:30 local (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Cédric Marchat

Bayonne v Lyon
Stade Jean Dauger, Bayonne 

The battle of the promoted sides, and while it’s still early, the fact that they are 12th and 13th in the table speaks volumes. The Basque side currently sit in the bottom two, with just one win to their name, while Lyon have a couple.

This is a great opportunity for Pierre Mignoni’s side to open up some breathing space at the foot of the table. Something they have struggled with in previous seasons.

But Bayonne’s problems have often come on the road this season and they will expect to beat Lyon on their own patch. 

The teams: 

Bayonne: 15 Julien Tisseron, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Félix Le Bourhis, 12 Gabiriele Lovobalavu, 11 Romain Martial, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Guillaume Rouet, 8 PJ van Lill, 7 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 6 Jean Monribot, 5 Pelu Taele, 4 Pierre Gayraud, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Grégory Arganese, 1 Davit Khinchagishvili
Replacements: 16 Manu Leiataua, 17 Aretz Iguiniz, 18 Adam Jaulhac, 19 Jean Jo Marmouyet, 20 Manu Saubusse, 21 Bastien Fuster, 22 Raphaël Lagarde, 23 Ben Broster

Lyon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Toby Arnold, 13 Theo Belan, 12 Rudi Wulf, 11 Napolioni Nalaga, 10 Mike Harris, 9 Agustín Figuerola, 8 Carl Fearns, 7 Virgile Bruni, 6 Julien Puricelli, 5 Thibault Privat, 4 Taiasina Tuifua, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Mickaël Ivaldi, 1 Albertus Buckle
Replacements: 16 Ti'I Paulo, 17 Alexandre Menini, 18 Josh Bekhuis, 19 Julien Bonnaire, 20 Frédéric Michalak, 21 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22 Thibault Regard, 23 BJ Botha

Last year’s result: Lyon won 15-11 in Pro D2
Kick-off: 18:30 local (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal

Toulouse v Grenoble
Stade Ernest Wallon, Toulouse

Talk has already started of how Toulouse will shape up next season, without Yacouba Camara and probably Luke McAlister, but with Charlie Faumuina and seemingly Lucas Pointud.

Before that, they have work to do to get back into play-off contention, and a struggling Grenoble team could be just the ticket to get them on the right track.

Last week they played over a half against 14 men though and still gave up a losing bonus point, so there is work to be done.

The return of the enigmatic Semi Kunatani and the promising François Cros boost the side, while Grenoble welcome back Xavier Mignot.

But with the likes of Jonathan Wisniewski, Rory Grice and Fabien Alexandre all absent, they are up against it.

The teams:

Toulouse: 15 Maxime Médard, 14 Semi Kunatani, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Toby Flood, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Jean Marc Doussain, 9 Sébastien Bezy, 8 Gillian Galan, 7 Talalelei Gray, 6 François Cros, 5 Joe Tekori, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Dorian Aldegheri, 2 Christopher Tolofua, 1 Vasil Kakovin
Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Gurthrö Steenkamp, 18 Gregory Lamboley, 19 Carl Axtens, 20 Edwin Maka, 21 Alexis Palisson, 22 Yann David, 23 Census Johnston

Grenoble: 15 Armand Batlle, 14 Xavier Mignot, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Maritino Nemani, 11 Lucas Dupont, 10 Gilles Bosch, 9 David Mélé, 8 Peter Kimlin, 7 Mahamadou Diaby, 6 Kevin Kornath, 5 Aly Muldowney, 4 Mickael Capelli, 3 Rossouw De Klerk, 2 Laurent Bouchet, 1 Sona Taumalolo
Replacements: 16 Loïck Jammes, 17 Alexandre Dardet, 18 Mathias Marie, 19 Thomas Jolmes, 20 Henry Vanderglas, 21 Lilian Saseras, 22 Edward Sawailau, 23 Walter Desmaison

Previous result: Toulouse won 52-12
Kick-off: 18:30 local (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Jérôme Garcès

Brive v Racing 92
Stade Amédée Domenech, Brive

There was a time when Racing looked to have the wood over Brive, regularly beating them home and away.

That has all changed in recent seasons, perhaps a sign that Brive aren’t out of place in the battle for the play-offs.

Both locked on 14 points after six matches, Racing will arguably be more annoyed, but can make up for a slowish start with a win at the Amédée Domenech.

They have conceded more than 30 points in three of the last four clashes with Brive, including both trips to the Corrèze.

But with the addition of Leone Nakarawa, a star last week in Montpellier, Racing look in good shape.

The teams:

Brive: 15 Gaëtan Germain, 14 Sevenaia Galala, 13 Romain Cabannes, 12 Seremaia Burotu, 11 Benito Masilevu, 10 Nicolas Bezy, 9 Teddy Iribaren, 8 Sisa Koyamaibole, 7 Fabien Sanconnie, 6 Petrus Gherardus Hauman, 5 Arnaud Mela, 4 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 3 Patrick-Albert Toetu, 2 Francois Da Ros, 1 Lucas Pointud
Replacements: 16 Thomas Acquier, 17 Karlen Asieshvili, 18 Julien Ledevedec, 19 William Whetton, 20 Jean-Baptiste Pejoine, 21 Thomas Laranjeira, 22 Malakai Bakaniceva, 23 Kevin Buys

Racing 92: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Juan Imhoff, 13 Anthony Tuitavake, 12 Albert Vulivuli, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Rémi Talès, 9 James Hart, 8 Chris Masoe 7 Yannick Nyanga, 6 Thibault Dubarry, 5 Francois van der Merwe, 4 Leone Nakarawa, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Virgile Lacombe, 1 Khatchik Vartanov
Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Eddy Ben Arous, 18 Ali Williams, 19 Wenceslas Lauret, 20 Maxime Machenaud, 21 Benjamin Dambielle, 22 Etienne Dussartre, 23 Luc Ducalcon

Last year’s result: Brive won 33-27
Kick-off: 20:45 local (19:45 GMT)
Referee: Thomas Charabas

Stade Français v La Rochelle
Stade Jean Bouin, Paris

The acid test for La Rochelle is approaching after a brilliant start to the season. Although they are starting to get some recognition for their displays, a win in Paris would cement them as genuine play-off contenders.

However La Rochelle have won just once against Stade in over a decade, albeit on the last time the two teams met.

Morné Steyn is still away with South Africa – and starting – while the absentees through injury and suspension continue to pile up.

In comparison, La Rochelle look a well-oiled machine, capable of striking from anywhere and finishing off counter-attacks.

The early kick-off on Sunday could be worth a watch in the Parisian sunshine. 

The teams:

Stade Français: 15 Hugo Bonneval, 14 Waisea Nayacalevu, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Paul Williams, 11 Jérémy Sinzelle, Meyer Bosman, 9 Julien Dupuy, 8 Jonathan Ross, 7 Raphaël Lakafia, 6 Antoine Burban, 5 Paul Gabrillagues, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Rémy Bonfils, 1 Heinke Van der Merwe
Replacements: 16 Laurent Sempere, 17 Aled De Malmanche, 18 Pascal Papé, 19 Sekou Macalou, 20 Clément Daguin, 21 Theo Millet, 22 Julien Arias, 23 Sakaria Taulafo

La Rochelle: 15 Vincent Rattez, 14 Romaric Camou, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Pierre Aguillon, 11 Gabriel Lacroix, 10 Brock James, 9 Alexis Bales, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Afaesetiti Amosa, 6 Romain Sazy, 5 Mathieu Tanguy, 4 Romana Graham, 3 Luc Mousset, 2 Jeremie Maurouard, 1 Vincent Pelo
Replacements: 16 Hikairo Forbes, 17 Mike Corbel, 18 Leandro Cedaro, 19 Jone Qovu, 20 Arthur Retiere, 21 Benjamin Noble, 22 Steeve Barry, 23 Uini Atonio

Last year’s result: Stade won 33-20
Kick-off: 12:30 local (11:30 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gauzère 

Toulon v Montpellier
Stade Félix Mayol, Toulon

A battle between the two teams who have hogged the headlines this week – as they do in many weeks.

First Mourad Boudjellal claimed he is planning to move on from Toulon at the end of the season – we shall see – then we found out Jake White really will be on his way.

The South African’s tenure has seen some success on the pitch, but struggled for support off it, and in replacement Vern Cotter, Montpellier have a new man with a very different vision of the game.

Perhaps White’s most controversial call was to ditch François Trinh-Duc last season and deny him even a farewell appearance in front of his home-town crowd.

He faces his old club this week and while Toulon haven’t yet clicked, Trinh-Duc will be eager to prove a point.

In his final season at the club, White will be looking to make sure that doesn’t happen. 

The teams:

Toulon: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Maxime Mermoz, 12 Matt Carraro, 11 Jimmy Yobo, 10 François Trinh-Duc, 9 Sébastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 6 Charles Ollivon, 5 Samu Manoa, 4 Mamuka Gorgodze, 3 Levan Chilachava, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Florian Fresia
Replacements: 16 Anthony Etrillard, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Romain Taofifenua, 19 Liam Gill, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 Pierre Bernard, 22 Éric Escande, 23 Marcel Van der Merwe

Montpellier: 15 Benjamin Fall, 14 Marvin O'Connor, 13 Alexandre Dumoulin, 12 François Steyn, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Benoit Paillaugue, 8 Akapusi Qera, 7 Wian Liebenberg, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Jacques du Plessis, 4 Konstantin Mikautadze, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Charles Géli, 1 Gregory Fichten
Replacements: 16 Shalva Mamukashvili, 17 Mikheil Nariashvili, 18 Paul Willemse, 19 Kélian Galletier, 20 Cameron Wright, 21 Vincent Martin, 22 Henry Immelman, 23 Davit Kubriashvili

Last year’s result: Toulon won 52-8
Kick-off: 16:15 local (15:15 GMT)
Referee: Salem Attalah