French Top 14: Montpellier v Clermont Preview

The French Top 14 serves up a sumptuous Sunday dish this coming weekend with heavyweights Montpellier and Clermont locking horns. 

Vern Cotter's Montpellier are faced with an acid-test of note this Sunday with reigning Top 14 Champions Clermont coming to town. The visitors are yet to really hit their straps this season while the hosts arrested a three-game losing streak last weekend by getting one over Pau.

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Montpellier v Clermont  | Sunday 5 November | Altrad Stadium | 17:50

To Win (80 Mins)
Montpellier 3/10 | Draw 20/1 | Clermont 26/10

Montpellier

Well, they may be struggling in the European Rugby Champions Cup, but Montpellier are in red-hot form domestically and racked up their seventh win of the season last week as they beat Pau away from home. The 16-22 victory showed that there is a certain doggedness to Vern Cotter's side, which was often lacking during Jake White's tenure.

While every single member of the Montpellier squad has been putting their hands up this term, one man has stood out. That man is Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo. The brute of a touchline jockey has scored some absolute pearlers this term. And while it's great having a winger who can finish from seemingly impossible positions, it's Nadolo's all-round game that makes him such a key cog in this Montpellier machine. He put in some monstrous hits against Pau last week and even affected a few turnovers. I'm expecting another big game from the Fijian ace.

Clermont

The defending 'Champs have been nowhere near as dominant as they were last season and currently find themselves sitting 10th on the log. They do come into this game off the back of a 32-10 victory over Stade Francais, so they should carry a bit more confidence to the Stade Altrad.

While Clermont's sluggish start to the campaign cannot be solely blamed on the absence of one man, the loss of centre Wesley Fofana has left their midfield rather unbalanced. The burly centre was absolutely key to Clermont's cause during the early salvos of last season until he was struck down by the dreaded injury curse.

Another man who has been plagued by injuries over the past few months is Fofana's international teammate, Camile Lopez. The French pivot broke his ankle against Northampton in a Champions Cup tie and has been ruled out until April next year. His absence is a massive blow for Clermont who will now have to field a slightly makeshift 10/12 pairing.

Verdict: Montpellier 3/10
This should be bread and butter for the hosts. Clermont are missing their two stars and Frans Steyn must be licking his lips at the prospect of taking on a very inexperienced 10/12 combination. I can see Montpellier taking this one by more than seven points.


Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net

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