French Top 14: Round 9 Preview

Rugby players engage in a tackle

International rugby may be making a return this weekend but there's still a full set of Top 14 fixtures taking place.

Round 8 proved to be a rather solid one on the tipping front with the majority of the picks arriving. The weekend came to a close in fine style as La Rochelle, who were priced up at 33/20, managed to get one over an out of sorts Toulon side at the Stade Felix Mayol.

Here's hoping that this weekend proves just as successful as the last.

Grenoble v Clermont
Saturday 3 November
Stade des Alpes

To Win (80 Mins)
Grenoble 39/20
Draw 18/1
Clermont 4/10

Grenoble face a tough challenge this week with league leaders Clermont Auvergne coming to town. The visitors have been in sparkling form this term winning six of their eight fixtures. The most recent of their victories saw them beat Castres 41-6, last weekend.

Grenoble also managed to claim a decent result last weekend as they held Agen to a 9-9 draw away from home. The stalemate ensured they remained above their relegation rivals in 11th place.

Verdict: Clermont 4/10
While they will be missing a few starts due to international commitments, Clermont should still have no problems getting one over a plucky but limited Grenoble outfit. My money is on the visitors taking this one by seven points or more.


Castres v Pau
Saturday 3 November
Stade Pierre Fabre

To Win (80 Mins)
Castres 1/7
Draw 25/1
Pau 9/2

Castres will be looking to move back into the Top 6 when they play host to 10th-placed Pau this coming weekend. The reigning champions and hosts for the affair, head into this one off the back of a heavy 35 point loss to Clermont. They put in an extremely abject performance last week which saw them fail to score a try.

Pau also come into Round 9 off the back of a heavy loss to one of the big guns as they went down by 20 points to Racing Metro last Saturday. That was their fourth loss of the season and ended their two-game winning streak.

Verdict: Castres
Castres are a much more formidable side on home soil than they are on the road. Home ground advantage should see them to a victory in excess of 10 points here.

La Rochelle v Agen
Saturday 3 November
Stade Marcel-Delflandre

To Win (80 Mins)
La Rochelle 1/50
Draw 46/1
Agen 9/1

La Rochelle will be looking to build on their 9-13 away victory over Toulon when they play hosts to minnows Agen. The hosts put in a solid defensive shift last Sunday holding out wave after wave of Toulon attacks to claim a well-deserved four-point victory that saw them move up to eighth place on the Top 14 ladder.

Agen were nowhere near as impressive as their opponents for this weekend as they could only register a 9-9 home draw with fellow minnows Grenoble.

Verdict: La Rochelle 1/50
It seems as though the solid start to their European Challenge Cup has re-energized La Rochelle. I expect another competent performance from the hosts here. My money is on them taking this one by 17 points or more.

Toulon v Perpignan
Saturday 3 November
Stade Felix-Mayol

To Win (80 Mins)
Toulon 1/12
Draw 33/1

Perpignan 57/10

Our next fixture sees struggling Toulon host last-placed Perpignan. The mega-rich club's dismal season reached a new low last week as they went down by four points at home to La Rochelle. The loss has seen them drop to 13th on the log and they will need to start bagging the wins or they could well find themselves facing the prospect of a relegation battle.

Perpignan, despite also losing, enjoyed a much more positive Round 8 as they gave a decent account of themselves during their 18-36 defeat to in form Toulouse. The result didn't do much for their position on the ladder, however, as they still sit at the foot of it some seven points behind their opponents for this weekend.

Verdict: Toulon 1/12
They are too good a side not to turn things around and I can see this game being the start of a Toloun renaissance. My money is on the hosts taking this one by 15 points or more.

Toulouse v Bordeaux Begles
Saturday 3 November
Stade Ernest-Wallon


To Win (80 Mins)
Toulouse 2/9

Draw 21/1
Bordeaux 33/10 

Toulouse will be looking to build on what has been an impressive fortnight when they take on the Bordeaux Begles in Saturday's final fixture. The hosts followed up their Champions Cup win over reigning champions Leinster by beating Perpignan by 18 points.

Bordeaux also enjoyed a solid Round 8 showing as they picked up a bonus point victory over the always tricky Lyon. The result has seen the Begles move up to fifth spot on the ladder.

Verdict: Toulouse 2/9
My money is on the hosts continuing their marvellous run of form by registering a win in excess of nine points.

Lyon v Stade Francais
Sunday 4 November
Matmut Stadium Gerland

To Win (80 Mins)
Lyon 3/10
Draw 19/1
Stade 26/10

The penultimate game of the weekend should be an extremely tasty affair with sixth-placed Lyon fronting up to second-placed Stade. The hosts do head into the encounter off a 22 point defeat to Bordeaux but they should provide stern opposition here as they are very strong on home soil.

Stade enjoyed a more positive Round 8 as they claimed a five-point win over fellow heavyweights Montpellier. The 25-20 victory was their sixth win of the season.

Verdict: Lyon 3/10
I have a sneaky suspicion that Lyon will take the spoils here. They love a game against one of the big guns and have upset the applecart on so many occasions that it would be foolhardy to bet against them.

Montpellier v Racing Metro 92
Sunday 4 November
GGL Stadium

To Win (80 Mins)
Montpellier 3/10
Draw 19/1
Racing 36/10

The old adage of saving the best for last has certainly been heeded by the Top 14 bosses this weekend as the final Round 9 encounter will see big guns Montpellier and Racing Metro lock horns at the GGL Stadium.

The hosts head into Sunday's encounter off the back of a five-point loss to Stade and will be eager to bounce back in front of their home faithful. Racing, on the other hand, head into the affair off the back of a 38-28 bonus point victory over Pau.

Verdict: Montpellier 3/10
They were unlucky to go down to Stade last week as they looked the better side for large segments of the game. I can see them bouncing back with a narrow win over Racing.

Written by Darry Worthington for

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