Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: French Top 14: Round 18 Preview

French Top 14: Round 18 Preview

Darry Worthington runs the rule over all the French Top 14 Round 18 action, which will get underway on Friday the 19th of February. 

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Another set of enthralling Top 14 fixtures are on their way with Round 18 of the French top tier throwing up some real crackers including a tie between log-leaders Toulouse and a Lyon side who will be determined to cause an upset this Saturday evening. 

Racing 92 v Castres
Friday 19 February
Paris La Defense Arena

To Win (80 Mins)
Racing 2/9
Draw 22/1
Castres 7/2

We kick things off in the French capital where third-placed Racing Metro will tackle ninth-placed Castres. With just eight rounds of the regular season to go come the culmination of this weekend, Castres desperately need to start picking up points if they are to challenge for a play-off berth. 

Racing had a solid time of it last weekend as they beat Lyon 34-26 at home, while Castres hammered Montpellier 48-17. When the two sides met last November, Castres edged the fixture 28-26. 

Verdict: Racing 2/9
This should be a rather entertaining affair with both sides able to run the ball. My money is on Racing winning this one by  14 points, so any minus handicap under that mark is worth backing.  

La Rochelle v Stade Francais
Saturday 20 February
Stade Marcel Delfrandre

To Win (80 Mins)
La Rochelle 1/12
Draw 30/1
Stade 7/1

Next up it's second-placed La Rochelle taking on eighth-placed Stade. The two sides head into this one off the back of contrasting results with the visitors going down 44-6 to the Bordeaux Begles while La Rochelle beat Toulon 11-29. 

Stade have struggled of late only winning one of their last five fixtures while La Rochelle have won four of their last five. Stade do have recent history on their side, however, as they have beaten La Rochelle in the last two meetings between the sides. 

Verdict: La Rochelle 1/12
Stade are really struggling at the minute and I expect La Rochelle to take them to task this weekend. Any minus handicap under 12 points should be backed. 

Brive v Bordeaux Begles
Saturday 20 February
Stade Amedee-Domenech

To Win (80 Mins)
Brive 21/20
Draw 20/1
Bordeaux 81/100

We head for the Stade Amedee Domenech next where Brive lie in wait for the Bordeaux Begles. The hosts currently sit in 10th place and are with a solid shout of making the play-offs, while Bordeaux are fourth and look like they'll definitely be involved in the play-offs should a major meltdown not occur. 

In terms of last weekend's results, Bordeaux were extremely impressive as they registered a 44-6 bonus-point win over a hit and miss Stade outfit, while Brive went down 26-23 to second-to-last placed Bayonne.

Verdict: Bordeaux 81/100
Brive tend to do well at home but I reckon Bordeaux will take this one due to their superior firepower. 

Clermont v Bayonne
Saturday 20 February
Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin

To Win (80 Mins)
Clermont 1/25
Draw 40/1
Bayonne 10/1

Onto Clermont we head with the French top tier's fifth-placed side playing host to 13th-placed Bayonne. 

The hosts enjoyed a week off last week while Bayonne registered only their sixth win of the campaign as they beat Brive 26-23 in a nail-biting affair. Prior to their week off, Clermont managed to register a 26-18 win over Lyon. They had experienced some patchy form prior to this going down to Bordeaux at home. 

Verdict: Clermont 1/25
While Bayonne will be on a high, I cannot see them getting a win over this solid Clermont outfit.  

Pau v Toulon
Saturday 20 February
Stade du Hameau

To Win (80 Mins)
Pau 63/100
Draw 20/1
Toulon 14/10

Toulon will be looking to bounce back from their rather disappointing 11-29 home defeat to La Rochelle when they take in a Pau side who were beaten 31-9 by log-leaders Toulouse, this past weekend. 

Both sides have experienced rather patchy form of late with Toulon winning three and losing two of their last five fixtures while Pau have only registered two wins in the same time period. 

The last three meetings between the sides have been won by Toulon with their most recent victory coming in November last year where they edged the game 18-13. 

Verdict: Pau 63/100
I feel Toulon will struggle here. They are lacking some guidance at fly-half and I just cannot see them beating a Pau side who will be determined to bag a win on home soil. 

Agen v Montpellier
Saturday 20 February
Armandie Stadium

To Win (80 Mins)
Agen 9/1
Draw 40/1
Montpellier 1/20

The penultimate game of the weekend sees the league's two real strugglers go head-to-head at the Stade Armandie with winless Agen taking on a Montpellier side that has only notched up four wins from their 17 games. 

Agen were off last weekend with their game against Clermont being postponed. While Montpellier would have wished they had last weekend off as they were hammered 48-17 by Castres. 

Verdict: Agen 9/1
I'm going for the upset here and backing the hosts to finally get the monkey off their back by beating a struggling Montpellier side.  

Lyon v Toulouse
Saturday 20 February
Stade Matmut

To Win (80 Mins)
Lyon 82/100
Draw 20/1
Toulouse 21/20

We bring the curtain down on Round 18 at the Matmut Stadium where seventh-placed Lyon take on log-leaders, Toulouse. 

The two sides experienced contrasting results in Round 17 with Lyon going down 34-26 to Racing Metro and Toulouse beating Pau 31-9. 

Lyon are experiencing a rather poor run of form and have only managed to win two of their last five fixtures, while Toulouse are unbeaten in their last nine. 

Verdict: Toulouse 21/20
This should be a cracking game and I expect it to be a close run thing. I reckon the visitors will register a narrow win, though. 

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