Top 14: Round 13 Preview

Rugby players engage in a tackle

The festivities continue in France this week with a full set of top-tier rugby fixtures taking place.

The 2018 Top 14 action will come to a close this weekend and clubs throughout the top tier of French rugby will be looking to end the year on a high note. Clermont, in particular, will be looking to close out the year with a win as the early season pacesetters could drop off the top of the standings should they lose to minnows Perpignan and Toulouse beat Toulon at home.

Lyon v Agen
Saturday 29 December
Stade Gerland

To Win (80 Mins)
Lyon 1/50
Draw 50/1
Agen 17/2

We kick off the weekend's action with a tie between seventh-placed Lyon and 13-placed Agen. The hosts will be looking to maintain their spot amongst the 'Barrage' play-off places while the visitors will be looking to move further clear of the bottom of the table.

The hosts for the affair come into this one off the back of a 40-7 trouncing at the hands of a faltering Toulon outfit, while Agen make the trip having gone down 6-19 to Stade Francais.

Verdict: Lyon 1/50
As regular Top 14 followers will know, Lyon are a much stronger side on home soil than they are on the road. I can see them bouncing back from last weekend's defeat with a win in excess of 17 points here.

Stade Francais v Grenoble
Saturday 29 December
Stade Jean Bouin

To Win (80 Mins)
Stade 1/8
Draw 28/1
Grenoble 5/1

Stade Francais will be looking to build on last week's 13-point away victory over Agen when they return to Paris to take on Agen fellow minnows Grenoble. The visitors for Saturday's clash will be full of confidence, however, as they claimed a shock 17-16 home victory over big guns Montpellier in Round 12.

Verdict: Stade 1/8
Stade's conservative style is likely to frustrate a Grenoble team that isn't the greatest of counter-attackers. I can see the hosts grinding out a victory here.

La Rochelle v Castres
Saturday 29 December
Stade Marcel Delfrandre

To Win (80 Mins)
La Rochelle 1/4
Draw 22/1
Castres 11/4The Top 14's form side, La Rochelle, will be looking to keep up their magnificent run of form when they take on reigning champions Castres this coming Saturday. The hosts extended their domestic unbeaten streak to six games as they beat Pau 23-28 away from home in Round 12.

Castres have experienced far darker times of late with their 13-32 home defeat to Bordeaux being their fourth defeat from their last five domestic starts.

Verdict: La Rochelle 1/4
This is one to file under the 'banker' folder with Castres struggling for form and La Rochelle beating all-comers at present.

Perpignan v Clermont
Saturday 29 December
Stade Aime Giral


To Win (80 Mins)
Perpignan 28/10
Draw 20/1

Clermont 1/4

Perpignan will be looking to bag their first win of the season before the year ends when they take on a stuttering Clermont outfit. The hosts suffered their 12th loss of the campaign last weekend as they went down 64-28 to Racing Metro.

Clermont also had a weekend to forget last time around as they blew a substantial lead to allow Toulouse to salvage a 20-20 draw.

Verdict: Clermont 1/4
I'm expecting a big response for the visitors here. They know they dropped points last weekend and they'll be determined to make up for that by claiming a bonus point victory.

Montpellier v Pau
Sunday 30 December

Altrad Stadium

To Win (80 Mins)
Montpellier 1/16
Draw 43/1
Pau 13/2

Montpellier will be looking to bounce back from their shock defeat to Grenoble when they return home to face Pau on Sunday. The hosts delivered yet another underwhelming performance last weekend as they failed to finish off a Grenoble side that was rife for the taking.

Pau also head into this fixture off the back of a rather poor display as they looked rather toothless during their 23-28 home defeat to La Rochelle.

Verdict: Montpellier 1/16
They really have been dire on the road this term but I expect Montpellier to show a different side of their game on home soil. My money is on the hosts winning this one by between 10 and 14 points.

Bordeaux Begles v Racing Metro 92
Sunday 30 December
Stade Chaban-Delmas

To Win (80 Mins)
Bordeaux 5/10
Draw 17/1
Racing 16/10

The penultimate fixture of the weekend will see the two sides who come into Round 13 off the back of impressive victories square off at the Stade Chaban-Delmas.

The Begles were value for money last week as they hammered reigning champions Castres 13-32 away from home. Racing also registered a solid win as they put minnows Perpignan 64-28.

Verdict: Racing 16/10
I'm going for the away win here for a minimal stake. Both sides are in great form but Racing have the better squad.

Toulouse v Toulon
Sunday 30 December
Stadium Muncinal


To Win (80 Mins)
Toulouse 1/5
Draw 22/1

Toulon 7/2

We close out the round with a clash between second-place Toulouse and 10th-placed Toulon. The hosts continued their fine run of results as they staged a massive comeback late on to claim a respectable 20-20 away draw with log-leaders Clermont.

Round 12 was also a profitable one for Toulon as they managed to notch up their fifth win of the season beating Lyon 40-7.

Verdict: Toulouse 1/5
While Toulon showed there is still life beating at the club with that big win over Lyon, I doubt they'll be able to beat this gritty Toulouse side.  

Written by Darry Worthington for

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