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View Full Version : Top 14 Preview: Round Eighteen



Bullitt
07-01-10, 02:52 PM
http://www.planetrugby.com/story/0,25883,3...5840926,00.html (http://www.planetrugby.com/story/0,25883,3551_5840926,00.html)

There's a collection of blockbuster clashes in France this weekend as heavyweights Toulouse and Clermont go head-to-head, Biarritz visit the Stade de France while Racing defy the champs.

While the big guns duke it out for places at the top of the standings, Bayonne will be playing for their Top 14 lives when the visit fellow strugglers Bourgoin in a true eight-pointer.

Win or lose in Montpellier, leaders Castres look set to easily qualify for the play-offs.

Toulon have an ideal opportunity to break back into a qualifying position against Montauban and move ahead of their direct rivals, Biarritz and Stade Français.

Elsewhere, Brive will be looking to sneak back into contention away to Albi.

A quick reminder of the new play-off format:

- The top two teams at the end of the regular season qualify automatically for home semi-finals.

- The team finishing third will play the team finishing sixth while fourth plays fifth for the remaining semi-final berths.

- Teams finishing the regular season thirteenth and fourteenth are relegated to the ProD2.

Bayonne captain Rémy Martin has been cited for stamping on Toulouse half-back Jean-Baptiste Elissalde. But in typically illogical French administrative style, the hearing will only take place on January 20, meaning Martin is free to play for three weeks before having to answer to the charges.

Montpellier lock Mamuka Gorgodze and hooker Danie Thiart are set for a hearing on the same day after being citing during the game against Stade Français. Albi scrum-half Sébastien Pagès, who was sent off during his side's loss to Castres last week, and coach Eric Béchu will also make an appearance.

Fixtures:

Friday, January 8

Perpignan v Racing Metro

Saturday, January 9

Montpellier v Castres
Bourgoin-Jallieu v Bayonne
Toulon v Montauban
Albi v Brive
Stade Français v Biarritz

Sunday, January 10

Stade Toulousain v Clermont

Standings: (Perpignan and Bayonne have a game in hand)

1 Castres 56
2 Clermont 52
----------
3 Toulouse 49
4 Racing Metro 48
5 Perpignan 45
6 Biarritz 42
----------
7 Toulon 42
8 Stade Français 41
9 Brive 38
10 Montpellier 33
11 Montauban 32
12 Bourgoin 31
----------
13 Bayonne 25
14 Albi 19

__________________________________________________ ______________________

Previews:

Friday, January 8

USA Perpignan v Racing Metro 92
Stade Aimé Giral, Perpignan

Are the wheels coming off the Perpignan bus? Consecutive defeats to Munster (twice), Toulouse and Brive have certainly dented the Catalans' confidence as the defending champs have dropped to fifth in the standings.

In fact USAP have not tasted victory since December 5, so it's time to se relancer as they say in France.

But Stade Aimé Giral welcomes another team looking for a fresh start. Racing's shock loss to Bourgoin ended a nine-match winning streak, so the last thing les Franciliens will want is to start stringing together losses.

Although both sides will have had less than five days to recuperate, the pressure will be on Perpignan, who trail their visitors by three points.

The hosts will be without Maxime Mermoz, who is out for a month, but David Marty has been passed fit. Nicolas Mas and Jerome Porical are back but Philip Burger is sick.

For Racing, Lionel Nallet missed training on Wednesday because of a sore shoulder but should be fit to start. Andrew Mehrtens is back on the bench after a poor showing from Fabien Fortassin last week. Frans Steyn and Andrea Masi will continue their partnership in midfield.

Previous result: Perpignan won 18-14
Prediction: Although Munster were able to conquer fortress Aimé-Giral, Racing are not in the same league - yet. Perpignan to win by seven points
Kick-off: 20:45 (19:45 GMT)
Referee:Pascal Gauzere

__________________________________________________ ______________________

Saturday, January 9

Montpellier HRC v Castres Olympique
Stade Yves Du Manoir, Montpellier

Can anyone stop Castres? Four points clear at the top of the standings and with five wins from their last six games, the Tarnais will travel to the Mediterranean full of confidence.

The league leaders have managed to bring at least a bonus point home from every one of their road trips this season and nothing suggests that trend will end any time soon.

Montpellier do however have an impressive record at Yves Du Manoir where they have won six of their eight home games, beating the likes of Perpignan, Biarritz, Toulon and Clermont before coming from behind to upset Stade Français last week.

Castres will travel without injured fly-half Cameron McIntyre, who needs ten days off to recover from a bump to the knee.

Previous result: Castres won 33-18
Prediction: A tough one to call considering Montpellier's record at home, but Castres' form seems irresistible. Castres by a whisker
Kick-off: 14:30 (13.30 GMT)
Referee:RFU referee

__________________________________________________ ______________________

CS Bourgoin-Jallieu v Aviron Bayonnais
Stade Pierre Rajon, Bourgoin

They're calling it the 'match of fear' and Bayonne have every reason to be afraid.

Defeat on Saturday will see the Basques fall at least ten points behind their hosts and principal relegation rivals. Despite having a game in hand (against Perpignan) a loss at Pierre Rajon could well signal the beginning of the end for Bayonne.

Although winless in their last nine games there have been signs of a revival in Bayonne, who came close to victory at home last week against both Toulouse and Racing, having to settle for a losing bonus point on both occasions.

Bourgoin seem to be holding all the cards. After upsetting Racing in Paris on Sunday and finally sorting out their financial issues during the week, CSBJ have golden opportunity to take a step closer to securing their place in the top flight last season.

Previous result: Bayonne won 53-6
Prediction:Based on their hige win in September, we'll stick our necks out and back Bayonne to win by five points.
Kick-off: 14:30 (13.30 GMT)
Referee:Franck Maciello

__________________________________________________ ______________________

RC Toulon v Montauban
Stade Felix Mayol, Toulon

After being given a rugby lesson in Clermont last week, Toulon will want to profit from the fact that their rivals (Stade Français and Biarritz) face each other and move back into the top six.

Failure to make the play-offs will come as a massive disappointment for Joe van Niekerk's team and victory on Saturday is a must if they are to remain in the race.

Unbeaten at Stade Felix Mayol this season, the home side will back themselves to pick up four points against Montauban. But they wont come easily. As Stade Français found out in last week's 6-all, Montauban will fight for every inch as they grapple to avoiding sliding into the relegation dogfight.

Previous result: Montauban won 21-18
Prediction:Toulon to win by ten points
Kick-off:14:30 (13.30 GMT)
Referee:Hervé Dubes

__________________________________________________ ______________________

SCA Albi v CA Brive-Corrèze
Stadium Municipal, Albi

A week after scoring a crucial bonus-point win over the champions, Brive can once again entertain hopes of competing for a place in Europe and the play-offs. Victory for les Corréziens will put them right back into the mix.

As for Albi, their goose seems to be cooked. After conceding 40+ points in both of their last two games and now twelve points adrift of the relegation threshold, the ProD2 beckons.

Previous result: Bribe won 39-6
Prediction:Brive to win by ten points
Kick-off:14:30 (13.30 GMT)
Referee:Eric Gauzins

__________________________________________________ ______________________

Stade Français v Biarritz Olympique
Stade de France, St. Denis (Paris)

In front of a sold-out Stade de France, both Biarritz and their Parisian hosts will be playing for their respective futures somewhat.

Fired by Biarritz last season after years at helm - including two French league titles - Stade Français boss Jacques Delmas' coaching future looked pretty bleak until Ewen McKenzie was relieved of his duties in the capital, handing Delmas a second a chance to revive his career.

Now he must face his former team without a handful of key elements in his side. The names Bergamasco, Oelschig, Liebenberg, Dupuy and Parisse will be absent from the Stade Français team sheet on Saturday at a stadium that has not smiled on the men in pink in recent years.

With their Heineken Cup campaign looking good, Biarritz travel to Paris with far less pressure than their hosts. The return to fitness of their attacking back three (Bolakoro-Balshaw-NGwenya) corresponds to the return of Imanol Harinordoquy and Florian Faure to the loose trio.

Previous result: Biarritz won 30-22
Prediction: Having already played to three draws this season, it's not unlikely that Stade Français will be involved in another stalemate, but we'll back the hosts to give the crowd something to smile about. Stade Français by three points.
Kick-off:16:25 (15.25 GMT
Referee:Christophe Berdos

__________________________________________________ ______________________

Sunday, January 10

Stade Toulousain v Clermont Auvergne
Stadium de Toulouse

It's tough to talk about any clash between these sides without remembering that epic final in 2008 - arguably the match of the decade.

Last year's semi-final wasn't nearly as good, but in front of a 37 000-strong crowd, with both teams coming off the back of wins and looking to set the tone ahead of crucial Heineken Cup games a next week, chances are we're in for a cracker on Sunday.

Just a few days before Marc Lièvremont announces his squad for the Six Nations, it's the perfect opportunity for certain players to shine.

Clermont are in great form. After hammering Brive and Toulon les Jaunards will travel to Toulouse confident they can repeat September's victory over their arch rivals.

Toulouse have had a number of false dawns this season but with their injury worries seemingly behind then, the Big Red Machine is starting to gather momentum. The hosts have not lost in Toulouse since April 2008 when they went down to....Clermont.

With loads of snow falling over the Auvergne this week, Clermont have had to complete most of their preparations indoors.

Previous result: Clermont won 19-12
Prediction: It'll be close, as always. Toulouse's home record is hard to argue against as we'll pencil them in for a win. Toulouse by two or three points
Kick-off:20:45 (19:45 GMT)
Referee:Jérôme Garces

feicarsinn
07-01-10, 02:57 PM
Good good good. What with the lack of rugby this weekend over here I'll be getting properly stuck in to some French action. At least 3 top games there.

Sir Speedy
07-01-10, 03:04 PM
FFFF- Are they being shown anywhere other than ESPN?

DonBilly
07-01-10, 03:14 PM
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (feicarsinn @ Jan 7 2010, 04:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430694')</div>
Good good good. What with the lack of rugby this weekend over here I&#39;ll be getting properly stuck in to some French action. At least 3 top games there.[/b]

No Celtic League this week-end? Is it for resting before playing the European cups?

<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (Sir. Speedy @ Jan 7 2010, 05:04 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430695')</div>
FFFF- Are they being shown anywhere other than ESPN?[/b]

Isn&#39;t Eurosport supposed to show some of the Top14 matchs too?

Bullitt
07-01-10, 03:18 PM
Eurosport lost the Top 14 to Setanta, thus ESPN, yonks ago. As for the <strike>Purgatory</strike> Magners, like in England most games have been snowed off.

feicarsinn
07-01-10, 03:18 PM
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (DonBilly @ Jan 7 2010, 04:14 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430697')</div>
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (feicarsinn @ Jan 7 2010, 04:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430694')
Good good good. What with the lack of rugby this weekend over here I&#39;ll be getting properly stuck in to some French action. At least 3 top games there.[/b]

No Celtic League this week-end? Is it for resting before playing the European cups?
[/b][/quote]

No, but the weather is causing all kinds of chaos over here. 2 games have already been called off while I wouldn&#39;t be surprised if more were to follow.
Ah well, as long as the Leinster game tomorrow doesn&#39;t get canelled I don&#39;t mind

Sir Speedy
07-01-10, 03:23 PM
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (Bullitt @ Jan 7 2010, 04:18 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430700')</div>
Eurosport lost the Top 14 to Setanta, thus ESPN, yonks ago.[/b]
Fecking Setanta/ESPN.

cyRil
07-01-10, 03:27 PM
Yeah, wharrevaa! Dear French posters, (Charles, DonBilly etc) do you know if the Stade v Toulouse game on c.6th March at the Stade de France is going to be 5Euros a ticket??

lynam1104
07-01-10, 03:29 PM
Where i am FT14 is on Eurosport. So i look ford to watching some of these matches.

DonBilly
07-01-10, 03:35 PM
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (cyRil of Ospreylia @ Jan 7 2010, 05:27 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430706')</div>
Yeah, wharrevaa! Dear French posters, (Charles, DonBilly etc) do you know if the Stade v Toulouse game on c.6th March at the Stade de France is going to be 5Euros a ticket??[/b]

It will be at Stade de France and there should be 10 Euros tickets for sure with possibly some at 5.

Gavin
07-01-10, 03:36 PM
I&#39;ll be looking forward to Stade Toulousain vs Clermont. If Toulouse win then they frog-leap Clermont, but if Clermont win they draw level with Castres :D

DonBilly
07-01-10, 03:37 PM
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (Gavin @ Jan 7 2010, 05:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430712')</div>
I&#39;ll be looking forward to Stade Toulousain vs Clermont. If Toulouse win then they frog-leap Clermont, but if Clermont win they draw level with Castres :D[/b]

It looks like Clermont will send their B team to focus on their following weekend match versus Neath-Swansea.

cyRil
07-01-10, 03:46 PM
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (DonBilly @ Jan 7 2010, 04:37 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430713')</div>
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (Gavin @ Jan 7 2010, 05:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430712')
I&#39;ll be looking forward to Stade Toulousain vs Clermont. If Toulouse win then they frog-leap Clermont, but if Clermont win they draw level with Castres :D[/b]

It looks like Clermont will send their B team to focus on their following weekend match versus <strike>Neath-Swansea</strike> Ospreys.
[/b][/quote]
Just the Ospreys now! None of this Neath-Swansea malarky!! And thanks for the info regarding tickets, can&#39;t wait!! :D

Olyy
07-01-10, 04:59 PM
Would be very surprised if Perp lost to Racing Metro, but considering recent form...
Hopefully they can get back on track

Sir Speedy
07-01-10, 05:08 PM
Racing have been surprising this season. After Perpignan&#39;s loss to Munster, who knows. Though in fact, Racing are no Munster.

Gavin
07-01-10, 05:19 PM
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (DonBilly @ Jan 8 2010, 04:37 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430713')</div>
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (Gavin @ Jan 7 2010, 05:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430712')
I&#39;ll be looking forward to Stade Toulousain vs Clermont. If Toulouse win then they frog-leap Clermont, but if Clermont win they draw level with Castres :D[/b]

It looks like Clermont will send their B team to focus on their following weekend match versus Neath-Swansea.
[/b][/quote]
I hope they don&#39;t. We all know that if both sides put out their strongest sides then it would be a fantastic occasion.

DonBilly
08-01-10, 02:38 AM
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (cyRil of Ospreylia @ Jan 7 2010, 05:46 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430715')</div>
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (DonBilly @ Jan 7 2010, 04:37 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430713')
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (Gavin @ Jan 7 2010, 05:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430712')
I&#39;ll be looking forward to Stade Toulousain vs Clermont. If Toulouse win then they frog-leap Clermont, but if Clermont win they draw level with Castres :D[/b]

It looks like Clermont will send their B team to focus on their following weekend match versus <strike>Neath-Swansea</strike> Ospreys.
[/b][/quote]
Just the Ospreys now! None of this Neath-Swansea malarky!! And thanks for the info regarding tickets, can&#39;t wait!! :D
[/b][/quote]

You&#39;re welcome.

Ospreys? What city is that?

Olyy
08-01-10, 10:39 AM
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (DonBilly @ Jan 8 2010, 03:38 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430829')</div>
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (cyRil of Ospreylia @ Jan 7 2010, 05:46 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430715')
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (DonBilly @ Jan 7 2010, 04:37 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430713')
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (Gavin @ Jan 7 2010, 05:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430712')
I&#39;ll be looking forward to Stade Toulousain vs Clermont. If Toulouse win then they frog-leap Clermont, but if Clermont win they draw level with Castres :D[/b]

It looks like Clermont will send their B team to focus on their following weekend match versus <strike>Neath-Swansea</strike> Ospreys.
[/b][/quote]
Just the Ospreys now! None of this Neath-Swansea malarky!! And thanks for the info regarding tickets, can&#39;t wait!! :D
[/b][/quote]

You&#39;re welcome.

Ospreys? What city is that?
[/b][/quote]
It&#39;s still the same team (so the Neath/Swansea area) but they dropped "Neath-Swansea" from the name as it&#39;s not just those two cities, so it&#39;s unfair on the other places in that region.
This link shows how the Welsh teams are set out in terms of regions of Wales (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:WalesRugbyRegions.png) (it&#39;s worth noting that most of the big cities in Wales are in the south, so while the Scarlets appear to have alot more region than the Ospreys, there&#39;s not a whole lot going on in there :P )

DonBilly
08-01-10, 12:44 PM
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (Olyy @ Jan 8 2010, 12:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430840')</div>
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (DonBilly @ Jan 8 2010, 03:38 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430829')
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (cyRil of Ospreylia @ Jan 7 2010, 05:46 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430715')
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (DonBilly @ Jan 7 2010, 04:37 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430713')
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (Gavin @ Jan 7 2010, 05:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ('index.php?act=findpost&pid=430712')
I&#39;ll be looking forward to Stade Toulousain vs Clermont. If Toulouse win then they frog-leap Clermont, but if Clermont win they draw level with Castres :D[/b]

It looks like Clermont will send their B team to focus on their following weekend match versus <strike>Neath-Swansea</strike> Ospreys.
[/b][/quote]
Just the Ospreys now! None of this Neath-Swansea malarky!! And thanks for the info regarding tickets, can&#39;t wait!! :D
[/b][/quote]

You&#39;re welcome.

Ospreys? What city is that?
[/b][/quote]
It&#39;s still the same team (so the Neath/Swansea area) but they dropped "Neath-Swansea" from the name as it&#39;s not just those two cities, so it&#39;s unfair on the other places in that region.
This link shows how the Welsh teams are set out in terms of regions of Wales (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:WalesRugbyRegions.png) (it&#39;s worth noting that most of the big cities in Wales are in the south, so while the Scarlets appear to have alot more region than the Ospreys, there&#39;s not a whole lot going on in there :P )
[/b][/quote]

I guess this region has a name, why don&#39;t they use this name similarly to Munster or Ulster in Ireland? This would be much more meaningful in my view than a damned bird that you would not even eat.

Bullitt
09-01-10, 10:55 AM
Perpignan get back to winning ways

http://www.planetrugby.com/story/0,25883,1...5844214,00.html (http://www.planetrugby.com/story/0,25883,16024_5844214,00.html)

French champions Perpignan scored their first win of the New Year with a 31-12 bonus-point victory over Racing Metro at Stade Aimé Giral on Friday.

While most of Europe was tucked away indoor to escape the freezing cold, the Catalans warmed their frigid season up with a five-try romp over their visitors from Paris.

The violently strong wind and sub-zero temperature did not make for ideal conditions, but didn&#39;t stop Perpignan from dominating the encounter.

The result sees the defending Top 14 champions climb back up to provisional second in the standings and provides a welcome boost to moral after four consecutive losses in all competitions.

The howling wind played a significant role but the home side made better use of it, especially early on the in second half after trailing 9-5 at the break.

Racing fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski opened the scoring with a penalty after just four minutes, but Perpignan scrum-half Nicolas Durand would score the game&#39;s fist try on the quarter-hour mark to hand the hosts the lead.

The visitors were suffering, especially at scrum time, but used the tail wind to move back ahead thanks to a drop and another penalty from Wisniewski.

But it would be a different story when the teams swapped ends. South African centre Gavin Hume and prop Benoit Bourrust scored within five minuets of each other to put Perpignan in control as Jerome Porical added the extras.

Lock Olivier Olibeau added a fourth try under the posts after Hume broke against the run of play.

Racing centre Frans Steyn provided the main threat from the visitors, but a too many an occasion found himself isolated after breaking the Catalan line. On one just occasion shortly before the full-time whistle, Perpignan countered to as wing Farid Sid added the icing to the cake.

The Scorers

For Perpignan:
Tries:Durand, Hume, Bourrust, Olibeau, Sid
Cons:Porical 3

For Racing Metro:
Pens:Wisniewski 3
Drops:Wisniewski

Perpignan: 15 Jérôme Porical, 14 Farid Sid, 13 David Marty, 12 Gavin Hume, 11 Adrien Planté, 10 Steve Meyer, 9 Nicolas Durand, 8 Henry Tuilagi, 7 Jean-Pierre Pérez, 6 Gerrie Britz, 5 Robins Tchale Watchou, 4 Olivier Olibeau, 3 Marius Tincu , 2 Guillem Guirado , 1 Perry Freshwater
Replacements16 Benoît Bourrust, 17 Marius Tincu, 18 Jérôme Schuster, 19 Rimas Alvarez Kairelis, 20 David Mélé, 21 Christophe Manas, 22 Ovidiu Tonita, 23 Florian Cazenave.

Racing Metro: 15 Greg Goosen,. 14 Henry Chavancy, 13 Andrea Masi, 12 François Steyn, 11 Mani Vakaola, 10 Jonathan Wisniewski, 9 Mathieu Loree, 8 Sébastien Chabal, 7 Jones Qovu , 6 Jonny Leo&#39;o, 5 Simon Raiwalui, 4 Lionel Nallet ©, 3 Andrea Lo Cicero, 2 Juan Pablo Orlandi , 1 Carlos Festuccia
Replacements16 Clément Baïocco, 17 Dan Scarbrough, 18 Andrew Merthens, 19 Nic Berry, 20 Benjamin Noirot, 21 Rémy Vaquin, 22 Santiago Dellape, 23 Mikaele Tuugahala.

Referee: Pascal Gauzere