French Top 14: Round 11 Preview

Rugby players engage in a tackle

The 11th round of the Top 14 season will take place between Saturday the 1st and Sunday the 2nd of December. Darry Worthington runs the rule over the fixtures. 

Round 11 of the French Top 14 season is sure to be a feisty old affair with a host of French internationals returning to their clubs. The return of these big guns has come at just the right time as there's a multitude of strength versus strength clashes taking place this coming weekend, including a tie between third-placed Racing Metro 92 and fourth-placed La Rochelle.

Montpellier v Clermont
Saturday 1 December
Altrad Stadium

To Win (80 Mins)
Montpellier 6/10
Draw 18/1
Clermont 27/20

Saturday's early fixture is a classic in the making with log-leaders Clermont travelling to a talented Montpellier outfit. The hosts, despite having one of the best squads in the league, have struggled for form this term and currently find themselves sitting in ninth place on the log having lost three of their opening six fixtures. They managed to register a win last week, albeit by only three points over minnows Agen.

Clermont put their rather embarrassing pre-Test window away draw to Grenoble behind them last week as they hammered plucky Lyon 31-10. That was the log-leaders seventh win of the season and has seen them pull four points clear of second-placed Toulouse.

Verdict: Clermont 27/20
This should be a rather interesting game with a number of internationals returning for both sides. I can see the away side sneaking a narrow win here. 

Lyon v Pau
Saturday 1 December
Stade Gerland

To Win (80 Mins)
Lyon 1/12
Draw 40/1
Pau 57/10

Lyon will be looking to bounce back from their 20-point defeat to Clermont when they play host to Pau this coming Saturday. The visitors also head into this one off the back of a defeat having gone down 13-15 to Toulouse in Round 10.

Last weekend's defeat saw Lyon drop out of the Top 6, with the plucky outfit now lying in eighth position on the log. Pau also dropped down the standings after their defeat and now lye in tenth place.

Verdict: Lyon 1/12
I fully expect a return to home soil to bring the best out of this Lyon side.

Castres v Agen
Saturday 1 December
Stade Pierre- Fabre

To Win (80 Mins)
Castres 1/14
Draw 35/1
Agen 6/1

Defending champions Castres will be looking to build on their 12-16 away victory over Perpignan when they take on another minnow in the form of Agen. The visitors currently reside in 13th spot on the log and will be desperate to pull away from the relegation zone.

Unlike their hosts, Agen were unable to claim a victory last weekend as they went down 15-18 to Montpellier. They did give a solid account of themselves, however,  and were thoroughly deserving of their losing bonus point.

Verdict: Castres 1/14
While Agen have given a good account of themselves on home soil, they've struggled on the road this term. I can see their away day woes continuing here with Castres likely to inflict a defeat in excess of ten-points over the visitors. 

La Rochelle v Racing Metro 92
Saturday 1 December
Stade Marcel Delfrandre

To Win (80 Mins)
La Rochelle 1/20
Draw 18/1
Racing 15/10

We've got an absolute cracker in-store next up with a resurgent La Rochelle outfit set to take on Racing 92. The Privateers have enjoyed a solid couple of months and head into this one having won their last four fixtures. The run is made all the more impressive considering it contains victories over big boys Clermont, Toulon and Stade Francais.

Racing have enjoyed a solid run of domestic results having won three consecutive games since their 13-19 home defeat to Lyon.

Verdict: La Rochelle 1/20
The hosts have been in spectacular form and I can see their solid run of results continuing here. 

Toulon v Grenoble
Saturday 1 December
Stade Mayol

To Win (80 Mins)
Toulon 2/9
Draw 25/1
Grenoble 32/10

Toulon will be looking to reignite their faltering campaign when they take on lowly Grenoble in Saturday's final fixture. The giants of the French game head into this one off the back of their seventh defeat of the season, which saw them go down 36-25 away to Bordeaux last Saturday.

The visitors actually head into this one one-point above Toloun on the league standing. They have also only won two games this season but two draws and a penchant for collecting losing bonus points has seen them move clear of the relegation zone.

Verdict: Toulon 2/9
They'll have a number of their internationals back and I can see this spurring Toulon on. My money is on the hosts winning by eight points or more.

Perpignan v Bordeaux
Sunday 2 December
Stade Aime Giral

To Win (80 Mins)
Perpignan 9/10
Draw 18/1
Bordeaux 9/10

The penultimate fixture of the weekend will see last-placed Perpignan take on seventh-placed Bordeaux. The visitors succumbed to their ninth defeat of the season last weekend, going down 12-16 to Castres. They head into Sunday's fixture with a points differential of -113.

Bordeaux have enjoyed a far more positive start to the campaign having registered five wins and a draw from their opening nine fixtures. One of the aforementioned victories came last weekend as they beat Toulon 36-25.

Verdict: Bordeaux 9/10
Despite losing all of their fixtures and having an obscene points differential, Perpignan have actually given a decent account of themselves on home soil. And while I fully expect Bordeaux to claim the win here, if you are offered a plus handicap in the region of eight points I would recommend backing the hosts on it.

Toulouse v Stade Francais
Sunday 2 December
Stade Ernest-Wallon

To Win (80 Mins)
Toulouse 7/20
Draw 20/1
Stade 22/10

We close out the round with yet another heavyweight affair as second-placed Toulouse take on fifth-placed Stade Francais. The visitors suffered a major blow last week as their two-point home defeat to La Rochelle saw them drop from third-place down to fifth.

Toulouse enjoyed a far more positive Round 10 with their 13-15 away victory over Pau seeing them retain second-place on the standings.

Verdict: Toulouse 7/20
With their French internationals back, I can see Toulouse winning this one by four points or more.

Written by Darry Worthington for

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