French Top 14: Week 2 Preview

The second set of French Top 14 fixtures gets underway on Friday the 1st of September.

The Top 14 once again lived up to its billing as one of the most unpredictable domestic rugby leagues in the world with upsets galore occurring in the opening round. The biggest shock result of the opening week saw defending champions Clermont go down to the Bordeaux Begles. We also got our first draw of the season with the game between Oyonnax and Toulouse ending 23-23.
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Agen v Racing Metro | Saturday 2 September | Stade Armandie | 14:45

To Win (80 Mins)
Agen 39/20 | Draw 18/1 | Racing 4/10

Agen got their return to the French Top tier underway in rather poor fashion as they went down 48-19 to Montpellier. The new kids on the block face an uphill battle to survive this year, and will need to be more defensively assured this week if they are to get one of a Racing outfit that looked a lot more competent than the one that struggled through the early parts of last season.

Verdict: Racing 4/10
While Racing were far from flawless against Castres last week, they did look a much-improved bunch. I think they’ll grab another win here.

Stade Francais v La Rochelle | Saturday 2 September | Stade Jean Bouin | 16:45

To Win (80 Min)
Stade 8/10 | Draw 17/1 | La Rochelle 1/1

La Rochelle will be looking to make it back-to-back away wins when they take on Stade Francais this Saturday. The hosts come into this one off the back of a 16-25 defeat to Lyon while La Rochelle make the trip having beaten Brive 10-19.

Verdict: La Rochelle 1/1
Stade really do look like a sinking ship and if they perform like they did last week they could find themselves drawn into a relegation battle. La Rochelle, on the other hand, have picked up from where they left off last year and look like they’re in for another solid campaign. Even money on the away win is my value bet for the week.

Castres Olympique v Bordeaux Begles | Saturday 2 September | Stade-Pierre Antoine | 18:45

To Win (80 Mins)
Castres 7/20 | Draw 20/1 | Bordeaux 21/10

Castres will be looking to build on from their spirited 25-21 away defeat to Racing when they welcome Bordeaux to the Stade-Pierre Antoine this Saturday. They face a tricky task in achieving this though as Bordeaux were simply sensational last week when they got one over reigning champions, Clermont.

Verdict: Bordeaux 21/10
 I know it’s always a dodgy call to tip the away side in a tight Top 14 game but I was just so impressed by Bordeaux’s performance last week that I can’t help but do this. A small strike on the away side is my tip here.

Olympique Lyonnais v CA Brive | Saturday 2 September | Matmut Stadium | 18:45

To Win (80 Mins)
Lyon 2/9 | Draw 21/1 | Brive 33/10

Next up it’s the impressive Lyon taking on Brive. The hosts come into this one off the back of a fantastic victory over Stade Francais while Brive make the trip having gone down 10-19 to La Rochelle.

Verdict: Lyon 9/20
I’ve kept this one short and sweet as Lyon have been solid on their own patch since being promoted back into the French top tier in 2016. They should have way too much for plucky yet limited Brive side.

Montpellier Herault v Oyonnax R.C | Saturday 2 September | Altrad Stadium | 18:45

To Win (80 Mins)
Montpellier 1/33 | Draw 60/1 | Oyonnax 8/1
Oyonnax face a tough task this week as they travel to powerful Montpellier. The visitors, who for this will be second game since being promoted back to the top tier, got life back in the Top 14 off to a decent enough start as they managed a 23-23 draw with Toulouse. Montpellier were far more impressive however as they dispatched of Agen 48-19. The big win saw them claim the only try scoring bonus point of the weekend which has left them at the top of the league table.

Verdict: Montpellier 1/33
They will canter to victory here. If you get a minus handicap under 34.5 I suggest climbing on to it.

Stade Toulouse v Pau | Saturday 2 September | Stade Ernst Wallon | 20:45

To Win (80 Mins)
Toulouse 1/7 | Draw 24/1 | Pau 47/10

Now here’s a game I think we’re being offered some terrific value on. Pau have been priced up at a staggering 47/10 for the win, and while they did go down by 27 points to Toulon, it must be remembered that they are taking on a far less talented side this weekend. Toulouse proved my aforementioned point last week with a really lacklustre display against Agen. The players seem tired already and they look devoid of ideas on attack.

Verdict: Pau 47/10
It’s a bit of a speculator but I’m going to have a small punt on the Pau win this weekend as I just think the price on them is way too high for this one.

Clermont Auvergne v R.C Toulon | Sunday 3 September | Parc des Sports Marcel Michellin | 16:50

To Win (80 Mins)
Clermont 3/10 | Draw 19/1 | Toulon 24/10

Clermont and Toloun lock horns at the Parc des Sports Marcel Michellin this Sunday in a repeat of last year’s final. The defending champions got their 2017/18 campaign off to a rough start as they went down 32-25 to the Bordeaux Begles. Toulon had no such troubles in the opening week as they beat Pau 41-14.

Last years final was an absolute cracker that ended 22-16. We’ll probably see a lot more attacking intent from these two sides this time around, with the pressure of finals rugby not playing into the scenario.

Verdict: Clermont 3/10
I was very impressed with Toulon’s performance last week but I think they’re in for a Clermont backlash here. My money is on the hosts taking it by between 5 and 10 points.

Written by Darry Worthington for

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