French Top 14: Round 21 Preview

Rugby players engage in a tackle

The 2018/19 French Top 14 season will enter its 21st week on Saturday the 6th of April.

After a brief break for European action, the French Top 14 returns this weekend with an enticing fixture list which is headlined with a clash between Racing Metro and Clermont. There are also some other blockbuster clashes in store including Saturday's fixture between Castres and La Rochelle.

Toulon v Toulouse 
Saturday 6 April
Stade Mayol
14:45

To Win (80 Mins)
Toulon 9/20
Draw 16/1
Toulouse 37/20


We kick things off with what used to be one of the most anticipated ties in French rugby, but with the form Toulon are in this fixture there won't be many rugby fans pencilling this one into their diaries.

The hosts head into Saturday's opener in languishing in 10th place on the log having only won eight of the 20 fixtures they've played this term. This record would look a lot worse were it not for their recent revival that has seen them win two of their last four fixtures.

Conversely, Toulouse are having a season to remember and currently occupy top spot of the Top 14 ladder. They also come into this one off the back of an extremely positive result as they beat Racing Metro 21-22 in the European Rugby Champions Cup quarter-finals last week.

Verdict: Toulouse 37/20
The Top 14 leaders are red-hot at the minute and I can see them taking this one by nine points or more.
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Grenoble v Stade Francais
Saturday 6 April
Stade de Alpes

18:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Grenoble 13/20
Draw 16/1

Stade 5/4

We go from a battle between two Top 14 staple sides to a clash between new boys Grenoble and established outfit Stade Francais.

The two teams have completely different agendas headed into the final five weeks of the regular season with Stade looking to book a semi-final berth a Grenoble looking to stave off relegation. Despite their different objectives, both teams desperately need the win with Grenoble sitting 13 points off a guaranteed place in the top division next year and Stade five points off third-place.

The two sides have been rather poor form over the past two months or so with Stade losing two of their last five fixtures and Grenoble their last five.

Verdict: Grenoble 13/20
Grenoble desperately need the win here and I think their desperation will see them over the line for a famous victory. 
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Bordeaux Begles v Perpignan
Saturday 6 April
Stade Chaban-Delmas

18:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Bordeaux 1/16
Draw 40/1

Perpignan 13/2

We continue the relegation strugglers versus 'barrage battlers' theme next up as sixth place Bordeaux Begles play host to last-placed Perpignan.

The visitors have actually been in decent touch  - well, decent enough considering they have only won three games this season - and head into this one off the back of two wins from their last five outings. Their latest victory came in Round 20 where they beat fellow relegation candidates Grenoble 22-16.

Bordeaux also head into this one with two wins from their last five, but the hosts were unable to register a victory in Round as they went down 45-27 to Racing Metro.

Verdict: Bordeaux 1/16
Perpignan may well cause the Begles some problems in the first stanza but I cannot see them challenging for the entire 80-minutes.
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Montpellier v Agen
Saturday 6 April
Altrad Stadium

18:00
To Win (80 Mins)
Montpellier 1/25
Draw 45/1

Agen 7/1

Montpellier will be looking to move back into the play-off positions when they take on an Agen side who sit nine points clear of the drop.

The two sides experienced contrasting fortunes in Round 20 with Montpellier bagging their third straight win by beating Pau 15-24, while Agen suffered their third loss in three outings as they went down 13-28 to Clermont.



Verdict: Montpellier 1/25
The hosts seem to be finding form just at the right time. I'm expecting them to make it four wins from four starts here. I would actually be surprised to see them win this one by less than 14 points.
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Castres v La RochelleSaturday 6 April
Stade Pierre-Fabre
20:45

To Win (80 Mins)
Castres 3/10
Draw 20/1

La Rochelle 51/20

Saturday's final fixture promises to be a cracker with fifth-placed Pau taking on seventh-placed La Rochelle.

The away team have suffered a horrendous drop in form and have lost their last four Top 14 fixtures. La Rochelle do come into this one off the back of a morale-boosting 39-15 European Rugby Challenge Cup victory over the Bristol Bears, however.

Castres have been in far better form domestically and have claimed four wins from their last five outings with their only loss during this run coming in Round 20 where they went down 32-16 to Stade Francais.

Verdict: La Rochelle 51/20
I'm going to have a small strike on the away team here, who will have picked up a load of confidence from last weekend's European victory. 


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Pau v Lyon
Saturday 7 April
Stade du Hameau
12:30

To Win (80 Mins)
Pau 9/10
Draw 16/1
Lyon 9/10 

Pau and Lyon will get Sunday's doubleheader underway when they square off at the Stade du Hameau in the lunchtime kick-off.

The visitors are enjoying a marvellous season and currently sit third on the standings. Pau, on the other hand, are closer to the foot of the table and currently occupy 11th-place. They desperately need to start picking up wins if they are to avoid being dragged into a relegation dogfight.

In terms of recent form, Lyon have won three of their last five with their last victory being a 42-33 Round 20 victory over Toulon. Pau have only won one of their last five and head into the clash off the back of a 15-24 loss to Montpellier.

Verdict: Lyon 9/10
The Wolves have been solid on the road this term and I can see them bagging yet another away win here. 


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Clermont v Racing Metro 92
Sunday 7 April
Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin
16:50


To Win (80 Mins)
Clermont 1/5
Draw 22/1
Racing 7/2

We close out the round with an absolute blockbuster that will see second-placed Clermont take on fourth-placed Racing.

The two sides suffered contrasting fortunes in Europe last weekend with Clermont advancing to the semi-finals of the European Rugby Challenge Cup by beating Northampton 61-38, while Racing bowed out of the Champions Cup as they went down 21-22 to Toulouse.

In terms of domestic form, Clermont have won four of their last five games while Racing have won three of their last five.

Verdict: Clermont 1/5
This should be a cracking game with both sides possessing a plethora of attacking talent. I can see the hosts edging a rather high-scoring fixture.

Written by Darry Worthington for Hollywoodbets

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