French Top 14: Round 12 Preview

Rugby players engage in a tackle

After a two-week break for Rounds 3 and of the European Rugby Champions and Challenge Cups, the French Top 14 makes its return.

Rugby fans are in for an early Christmas treat this coming weekend with Round 12 of the 2018/19 French Top 14 season serving up a feast of entertaining rugby action.

Agen v Stade Francais
Saturday 22 December

Stade Armandie

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

Stade 9/10

The Round 12 action gets underway with a clash between minnows Agen and big guns Stade Francais. Both sides head into this one off the back of European Rugby Challenge Cup victories with the visitors beat the Ospreys 12-3 last weekend and Agen beating local rivals Grenoble 14-10.

In terms of domestic form, Stade have struggled of late losing their last three games. Agen also head into this one in poor form having lost three of their last four. They did win their last domestic game against Castres 16-13, however.

Verdict: Agen 9/10
Agen have proved to be a tricky side to put to bed at home. I can see them running a struggling Stade outfit close here, hence the plus play is my call for this one.

Toulon v Lyon
Saturday 22 December

Stade Mayol

To Win (80 Min)
Toulon 4/10
Draw 18/1

Lyon 2/1

Next up we travel to Toulon for what should be an explosive clash between Lyon and the struggling hosts. The visitors head into this one off of some woeful European form as they were comfortably beaten by the Glasgow Warriors in the two doubleheaders between the sides.

Toulon also come into this one off the back of a Champions Cup loss as they went down 34-13 to Montpellier last Sunday.

Verdict: Lyon 2/1
Toulon are yet to truly galvanize and I can see this Lyon side adding to the French giants' woes here.

Pau v La Rochelle
Saturday 22 December

Stade du Hameau

To Win (80 Min's)
Pau 5/10
Draw 18/1
La Rochelle 15/10

Saturday's next fixture will see 11th-paced Pau take on third-place La Rochelle. The visitors have been the form team in the Top 14 over the past two months and head into this one off the back of five consecutive victories.

Pau, on the other hand, have struggled for results and come into Saturday's affair having lost their last four domestic fixtures.

Verdict: La Rochelle 15/10
The Mariners have been spectacular on the road over the last few months and I can see them extending their domestic unbeaten run up to six games. 

Grenoble v Montpellier
Saturday 22 December

Stade des Alpes

To Win (80 Mins)
Grenoble 1/1
Draw 18/1
Montpellier 7/10

Saturday's penultimate fixture is a real minnow versus bug gun affair with heavyweights Montpellier taking on lowly Grenoble. Vern Cotters talented Montpellier outfit will head into this one in a rather confident mood having beaten domestic foes Toulon 34-13 in the reverse tie of their Champions Cup doubleheader.

Grenoble didn't fare as well against domestic opposition in Europe last week as they went down to Agen in their Challenge Cup tie.

Verdict: Grenoble (+1) 9/10
I'm going to ack the minnows to stay within what should be around a ten point handicap. They're a tricky side to beat on home soil and I can't see them catching hiding here.

Racing Metro 92 v Perpignan
Saturday 22 December
Paris La Defense Arena

To Win (80 Mins)

Racing 1/33
Draw 30/1

Perpignan 8/1

We close out Saturday's action with yet another 'David versus Goliath' affair as fifth-placed Racing Metro take on last-placed Perpignan.

The visitors are yet to win a game this term and come into the clash with a points differential of -124. Racing, on the other hand, head into this one having won seven of their 1 domestic fixtures. They were also in solid form in Europe last week as they hammered the Leicester Tigers 11-34.

Verdict: Racing (-24) 9/10
I suspect the handicap will open up at around the 25 point mark, and I'd be happy to back the hosts clearing this margin against a side that is very defensively porous. 

Castres v Bordeaux
Sunday 23 December

Stade Pierre-Fabre

To Win (80 Mins)
Castres 1/4

Draw 20/1
Bordeaux 11/4 

The first of Sunday's two fixtures will see reigning champions Castres take on sixth-placed Bordeaux. Only one point separates the two sides on the standings so this one will have a bit of an extra edge to it.

Both teams have been hit and miss domestically of late with Castres winning two of their last four and Bordeaux winning three of their last five.

Verdict: Castres (-9) 9/10
I think this will be a very tight game which is why I won't be having a punt on it. If you must wager a bet, I recommend backing the hosts to take the spoils in front of their fans. 

Clermont v Toulouse
Sunday 23 December

Parc des Sports Marcel Michellin

To Win (80 Mins)
Clermont 1/10
Draw 25/1

Toulouse 11/2

We close out the Round 12 action with the pick of the fixtures as first-placed Clermont take on second-placed Toulouse. The hosts maintained their unbeaten record in Europe last week as they notched up a 49-24 Challenge Cup victory over Welsh outfit, the Dragons.

Toulouse also fared well in Europe last week as they beat the London Wasps 42-27.

Verdict: Clermont 1/10
This should be a cracker of a game with both teams not afraid to throw the ball around. I can see Clermont edging an entertaining affair. 

Written by Darry Worthington for

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