Our rugby scribe gives his verdict on Sunday's Top 14 game between Pau and Lyon.
Eighth-placed Pau will be confident of putting one over Lyon, when the two go head-to-head at the Stade du Hameau on Sunday.
Pau v Lyon | Sunday 12 February | Stade du Hameau | 13:30
To Win (80 mins)
Pau 3/10 | Draw 20/1 | Lyon 5/2
After finishing the 2015/16 Top 14 season in eleventh, Pau are well on track to better that result this season, and they will expect nothing more than a win at home to Lyon this Sunday. Despite having lost by five points in October to this same side, Pau will know that a win is crucial to their chances of potentially climbing up a few places, and that they next face the two bottom clubs on the log in Grenoble and Bayonne. A win this weekend, and they will feel even more confident of winning their next two encounters, thus potentially stretching their winning streak to four games. A place in Europe is looking all the more likely for the Men-In-White.
With a host of All Blacks backs in their side, including the likes of Conrad Smith, Tom Taylor and Colin Slade, Pau will know that they have the firepower to challenge for a place somewhere near the very summit of the French league. Powerful forwards like former European Player Of The Year Steffon Armitage, Ben Mowen and Jamie Mackintosh should also give the Pau men and their supporters lots to shout about. Having won three of their last five matches, this humble club will be looking to capitalize on their great showings with a win at home on Sunday.
Meanwhile, "Les Loups" have made an assault on the Top 14 standings, and currently boast two wins on-the-trot. The side currently sits in twelfth place, ten points above the relegation zone, and are doing remarkably well considering they were promoted at the beginning of the season. Seeing as their next two games are away to Toulon and at home to Montpellier, they will be targeting this game as a must-win, and will look to take away from it as much as possible.
Lyon's squad house a few rather interesting names. Scrumhalf Fred Michalak, winger Napolioni Nalaga, fullback Delon Armitage (set to come up against his brother on Sunday), centre Rudi Wolf and flyhalf Mike Harris have all played international rugby, and all combine to make up a considerably gifted backline. Despite this, they are yet to click this season, having scored the second-least tries this campaign (24) - perhaps Sunday things will all fall into place for the 121-year-old club.
Verdict: Pau 3/10
Lyon's entertaining defeat of this weekend's opponents last October will give this side hope that they can pull off an upset, and they will be looking to extend their winning run to three matches this Sunday. However, despite the current confidence in the side, they should still finish second to their hosts.