French Top 14: Round 14 Preview

Rugby players engage in a tackle

After two weeks of European Champions and Challenge Cup action, the French Top 14 will return this coming weekend.

The Top 14 will return for a one-week cameo this coming weekend before heading into a three-week-long break due to the upcoming Six Nations. With a lengthy break on the horizon, the 14 sides will be going all out to improve their positions on the log.

Castres v Clermont
Saturday 26 January
Stade Pierre-Fabre
16:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Castres
Draw
Clermont

We get Round 14 underway with a clash between eighth-placed Castres and first-placed Clermont. The hosts will be hoping to be in the 'Barrage' (Top 7) places come the close of this round, while Clermont will be looking to retain top spot.

The hosts and reigning champions saw their Champions Cup campaign come to an early close as despite beating Gloucester 24-22 last weekend, they didn't accrue enough pool phase points to advance to the next round.

Clermont, on the other hand, kept up their unbeaten streak in the Challenge Cup as they beat the Dragons 7-49 to qualify as the top seed for the next round of the competition.

Verdict: Clermont
The pacesetters have been in great form this term and should be able to roll over a hit-and-miss Castres side despite being away from home.
________________________________________________________________

La Rochelle v Montpellier
Saturday 26 January
Stade Marcel-Delfrandre
19:00

To Win (80 Mins)
La Rochelle
Draw
Montpellier

Next up we have a fixture between heavyweights La Rochelle and Montpellier. The visitors were dumped out of Europe last week as they went down 19-10 to Scottish outfit Edinburgh. La Rochelle enjoyed a far more profitable time of it in the Challenge Cup as their 10-22 away victory over Italian side Zebre was enough to see them advance through to the knock-out phase of the tournament as one of the top seeds.

Verdict: La Rochelle
The hosts have been in great form over the past two-and-a-half months and should be able to get the job done against a Montpellier side that is woeful on the road.
________________________________________________________________

Perpignan v Pau
Saturday 26 January
Stade Aime Giral
19:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Perpignan
Draw
Pau

Winless Perpignan will take on 10th-placed Pau on Saturday evening. The hosts currently sit at the foot of the standings with only four points to their names and would need a miracle to avoid relegation. Pau, on the other hand, are still well-poised to launch an assault on the 'Barrage' places.

In terms of recent results, Perpignan head into this one off the back of a 39-10 Challenge Cup defeat to the Sale Sharks, while Pau make the trip having beaten the Ospreys 26-21, but the victory was not enough to see them avoid a pool phase exit from the Challenge Cup.

Verdict: Pau
The season couldn't end soon enough for the hosts who have been found out this season. I can see them going down by no more than ten points here.
________________________________________________________________

Bordeaux Begles v Agen
Saturday 26 January
Stade Chaban-Delmas
19:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Bordeaux
Draw
Agen

Two sides who bowed out of the European Rugby Challenge Cup last weekend will be looking for redemption at the Stade Chaban-Delmas this Saturday. The hosts 27-33 defeat to Connacht last Saturday was the death knell in their Challenge Cup run, while 17-33 loss to Harlequins also saw them bow out of the tournament at the earliest possible moment.

Verdict: Bordeaux
Agen have been a rather plucky outfit this term but I can't see them getting much out of a game against a Bordeaux side that knows how to win at home. My money is on the hosts taking it by eight points or more.
________________________________________________________________

Lyon v Racing Metro 92
Saturday 26 January
Stade Gerland
21:45

To Win (80 Mins)
Lyon
Draw
Racing

Saturday's final fixture should be an absolute cracker with fifth-placed Lyon taking on sixth-placed Racing. Only points difference separates the two sides on the standings, and both will be desperate for the win so as to retain their spots in the 'Barrage' places.

The two sides endured contrasting fortunes in the European Rugby Champions Cup last weekend with Racing's 46-33 victory over the Scarlets securing them top spot on the Pool 4 standings and a home quarter-final against Toulouse. While Lyon's 33-14 away defeat to the Cardiff Blues ensured they would end the tournament with no wins under their belts.

Verdict: Lyon
The hosts will be determined to bounce back from their poor showing in the Champions Cup. They rested a lot of players last week, so their first string should be ready and raring to go. I can see them edging this one by a very narrow margin.
________________________________________________________________

Toulouse v Grenoble
Sunday 27 January
Stade Ernst-Wallom
13:30

To Win (80 Mins)
Toulouse
Draw
Grenoble

The first of Sunday's doubleheader will see second-placed Toulouse play host to 12th-placed Grenoble in a true 'David versus Goliath' encounter.

The hosts head into the encounter off the back of a hard-fought 20-17 home victory over Bath which was enough to book them a spot in the Champions Cup quarter-finals. Grenoble, on the other hand, bowed out of the Challenge Cup with a whimper as they went down 7-39 to Treviso at home.

Verdict: Toulouse
The hosts are in solid form at the moment and should have no troubles getting one over Grenoble. My money is on them taking this one by 18 points or more.
________________________________________________________________

Toulon v Stade Francais
Sunday 27 January
Stade Mayol
17:50


To Win (80 Mins)
Toulon
Draw
Stade


We close out the round with a clash between a Toulon side enduring a horror season and a Stade side that has endured some patchy form of late. The hosts were dumped out of the Champions Cup last weekend despite registering a 24-27 away victory over English side the Newcastle Falcons.

Stade also saw their European aspirations go up in smoke last weekend as their 36-3 away defeat to the Warriors relegated them to a pool phase exit.

Verdict: Toulon
I actually fancy the hosts to register a narrow win here. The away victory over Newcastle will have given them a much-needed confidence boost. 


Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net



Twitter - HollywoodbetsInstagram - HollywoodbetsFacebook - Hollywoodbets


Hollywoodbets - Play with your Mobile Today - Sports Betting - Mobile Betting - Thumbs Up