Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: French Top 14: Round 14 Preview

French Top 14: Round 14 Preview

Darry Worthington previews all the French Top 14 Round 14 action, which will get underway on Saturday the 9th of January. 

Image copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

The Top 14 passes its halfway point this weekend with six fascinating fixtures - it would be seven but the clash between Bayonne and Toulon has been called off due to an outbreak of COVID in the Bayonne camp - set to be played between Saturday the 9th and Sunday the 10th of January. 

There are some blockbuster games in-store with the two fixtures that really catch the eye being the round's opener between Racing and La Rochelle as well as the final game of the weekend which will see Toulouse tackle Stade Francais. 

Racing 92 v La Rochelle
Saturday 9 January
Paris La Defense Arena

To Win (80 Mins)
Racing 1/8
Draw 25/1
La Rochelle 9/2

We kick the Round 14 action off at the Paris La Defense Arena where third-placed Racing 92 will tackle on table toppers, La Rochelle. Only three points separate the sides on the ladder, so this game is of vital importance. 

Both sides head into this fixture off the back of solid wins with La Rochelle hammering Agen 13-43, while Racing registered a highly impressive 22-24 away victory over a much-fancied Clermont outfit. 

In terms of recent head-to-head results between the sides, La Rochelle hold a slight advantage having won three of the last games. One of the aforementioned victories came as recently as last November where they ran out 9-6 victors. 

Verdict: Racing 1/8
I expect this one to be a tight old affair and I'd be tempted to back any plus handicap in excess of eight points. I do think Racing will win this one, however. 

Castres v Agen
Saturday 9 January
Stade Pierre Fabre

To Win (80 Mins)
Castres 1/100
Draw 35/1
Agen 10/1

Next up we've got 12th placed Castres taking on last-placed Agen. Both teams have had a tough time of it this term with the hosts only managing to register four victories and a draw from their 11 fixtures, while Agen are yet to win a game. 

In terms of last weekend's results, Castres achieved a remarkable 14-15 away win over Lyon, while Agen suffered a 30 point loss at the hands of league leaders, La Rochelle. 

Verdict: Castres 1/100
These a reason Castres are 1/100 favourites: Agen just aren't a very good side. Having said that, if the bookies price the handicap up at over 20 points then I'll be all over the plus line. 

CA Brive v Montpellier
Sunday 10 January
Stade Amedee Domenech

To Win (80 Mins)

The Saturday action continues with Brive taking on Montpellier. This will be the visitors second game of the week as they will play Lyon on Wednesday evening in a catch-up fixture. 

Both teams have struggled for form this term with the hosts winning four and drawing one of their 13 games while Montepellier have only managed to register three wins from their ten fixtures. Brive currently sit four points ahead of their opponents on the standings but could be leapfrogged should Montpellier bag a win here. 

*Odds to be added on release

Verdict: Brive
Montpellier have struggled this term and I reckon playing two games in the space of a week will take its toll on them. My money is on the hosts winning this one at a canter. 

Jockeys Ride Horses

Pau v Clermont
Sunday 10 January
Stade du Hameau

To Win (80 Mins)
Pau 19/10
Draw 18/1
Clermont 4/10

Sunday's opening fixture will pit 10th-place Pau up against seventh-placed Clermont. The hosts didn't take to the field last weekend as their game against Bayonne was called off due to COVID concerns while Clermont suffered a shock 22-24 home defeat to Racing 92. 

In terms of head-to-head clashes between the sides, Clermont have won four of the last five games with their most recent victory being October's 50-29 win. 

Verdict: Clermont 4/10
Both teams have struggled for form of late with Pau losing three of their last four domestic fixtures and Clermont losing their last three. I do fancy Clermont to bounce back here as I think they are due a win. 

Bordeaux Begles v Lyon
Sunday 10 January
Stade Chaban Delmas

To Win (80 Mins)

The penultimate game of the weekend sees last season's pacesetters Bordeaux and Lyon square off. While both teams dominated the start to the 2019/20 season, they are not experiencing similar fortunes this term with Bordeaux sitting in eighth place with six wins from their 12 fixtures and Lyon in sixth with six wins and a draw from their 11 games. 

As noted earlier in the piece, this will be Lyon's second game in the space of a couple of days as they have a midweek catch-up match with Montpellier to deal with. They head into the midweek fixture off the back of a disappointing 14-15 home loss to Castres.

Bordeaux fared a lot better than their opponents in Round 13 as they registered a solid 31-18 win over Toulon. 

*Odds to be added on release

Verdict: Bordeaux
I think Lyon will be rather leggy by the time this one rolls around, which is why I'm on the hosts to win it. 

Toulouse v Stade Francais
Sunday 10 January
Stade Ernest-Wallon

To Win (80 Mins)
Toulouse 1/10
Draw 28/1
Stade 52/10

The round will come to a close at the Stade Ernest-Wallon where second-placed Toulouse will take on third-placed Stade Francais. The host will be eying top spot on the Top 14 ladder as they are only two points adrift of league leaders La Rochelle who have a tricky away fixture away to Racing Metro. 

Both teams head into this one off the back of impressive wins with Toulouse beating Montpellier 9-16 and Stade hammering Brive 51-21. This was Stade's fourth win in five domestic games and Toulouse third win in their last five. They also registered a draw in this period. 

Verdict: Toulouse 1/10
The hosts should have far too much about them at home for a solid but not spectacular Stade side to handle. 
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