We're set for another cracking weekend of French top tier rugby with the Round 6 action opening up with a repeat of last season's final as Castres play host to Montpellier, while Saturday's clash between Toulouse and Clermont should be a spicy old affair.
Last weekend saw a couple of shocks here and there with Toulouse piping Montpellier 17-19 at the Altrad Stadium while Perpignan managed to hold off Castres to edge their home fixture 14-10. Toulon, who have struggled on the road in recent years, were fantastic value at the Stade du Hameau as they beat their hosts Pau 17-34.
Saturday 8 October
Castres 47/100 | Draw 20/1 | Montpellier 37/20
It’s the repeat of last season’s final first up with Castres playing host to Montpellier. The hosts have had a rather sluggish start to their campaign, winning only two of their opening five fixtures. In fairness to them two of their defeats came away from home to strong Racing 92 and Bordeaux Begles sides.
Montpellier have enjoyed a slightly brighter start than their opponents, winning three of their five fixtures with their two defeats coming at the hands of La Rochelle (26-22) in Round 1 and to Toulouse (17-19) last weekend.
Like Montpellier, Castres also come into this one of the back of a disappointing narrow loss as they went down 14-10 to minnows Perpignan.
The visitors have already won a game on the road this term and I reckon they could well make it two away wins this weekend.
Stade Francais 2/11 | Draw 28/1 | Perpignan 42/10
Stade Francais and Perpignan are next to square up with the duo going head-to-head at the Stade Jean Bouin.
Both sides have struggled for form during the early salvos of the campaign winning just two of their respective five fixtures.
Stade have been pretty ill-disciplined at times and this was evident last weekend where they went down 15-10 to Bordeaux. All of Bordeaux’s points came courtesy of penalties and this is an area Stade will need to improve upon if they are to pick up results this term.
Perpignan fared a lot better in Round 5 as they registered a 14-10 win over Castres. This was their second home win of the campaign with their first coming against Toulon (19-13) the week prior.
Perpignan have struggled on the road and I simply cannot see them beating this Stade side that are solid in Paris.
Racing 92 1/8 | Draw 33/1 | Pau 52/10
We remain in the French capital for our next fixture which sees Racing 92 welcome Pau to the Paris La Defense Arena.
The hosts have had a rather subdued start to the season winning just two of their opening five fixtures. They have blown extremely hot-and-cold thus far, registering eye-catching wins over Lyon (32-19) and Castres (25-19) while going down to the likes of Bayonne (31-25).
Pau have also endured a patchy start to their season and currently sit rooted to the foot of the table. They have won two of their five games, however, beating Toulouse 26-16 n Round 3 and Perpignan 16-14 on the opening weekend.
Their home form has been solid and I can’t see Pau putting up much of a fight this Saturday. All over Racing here.
Bayonne 7/4 | Draw 20/1 | La Rochelle 49/100
Next up we’ve got second-placed La Rochelle making the trip to the Park des Sports Jean Dauger to take on 11th-placed Bayonne.
Despite their lowly position on the Top 14 ladder, the hosts have enjoyed a decent enough start to the campaign, winning two of their five fixtures. The aforementioned victories came against big guns Bordeaux (20-15) and Racing (31-26).
La Rochelle have got themselves off to a flier winning four of their opening five games with their only defeat thus far coming at the hands of Clermont, who they went down to 22-13 in Round 4. They bounced back strongly from that defeat beating Racing 24-19 this past weekend.
While La Rochelle have been brilliant this term, I think they may well struggle to get one over a Bayonne side that has been working miracles at home.
Toulon 1/100 | Draw 40/1 | Brive 13/1
Toulon will be looking to put out a further statement that they’re ready for a title tilt when they take on a Brive outfit who, while not setting the world alight, have proved somewhat of a tough nut to crack this term.
The hosts have enjoyed one of their best starts to a Top 14 campaign in recent years winning three of their first five games. They made a massive statement last weekend as well as they beat Pau 17-34 away from home.
Brive also managed to register a win last weekend as they beat Bayonne 25-22 in a hotly contested affair. This weekend’s visitors have been involved in loads of tight games during the opening salvos of the season going down 26-31 to Montpellier, 12-6 to Castres and 27-31 to Lyon.
While Toulon should grab the win here, I reckon it will be a pretty close-run affair as Brive have this knack of staying in the contest for the full 80-minutes.
Toulouse 1/10 | Draw 28/1 | Clermont 6/1
The penultimate game of the weekend should be a humdinger with heavyweights Toulouse and Clermont locking horns at the Stade Ernest-Wallon.
The visitors have gotten their campaign off to a solid enough start, winning three of their first five fixtures. They head into Saturday’s fixture off the back of their most impressive win of the campaign thus far as they beat Lyon 43-20.
Toulouse have enjoyed an even better opening five weeks; winning four of their five games with their only defeat being their 26-16 Round 3 loss to Pau. They had a good time of it last weekend as well as they beat reigning champions Montpellier 17-19 away from home.
Toulouse look the real deal again this term and I reckon they’ll have no hassles getting one over Clermont.
Sunday 9 October
Lyon 48/100 | Draw 20/1 | Bordeaux 18/10
We bring things to a close at the Stade Gerland where Lyon will play host to the Bordeaux Begles.
Lyon have not started brightly at all, winning just two of their five games. In fairness to them, they have played against some decent sides in the opening week losing to Racing, Clermont and La Rochelle while beating Brive and Stade Francais.
Bordeaux have also managed just two wins from their five outings. They seem to be turning a corner however, beating Castres 33-12 in Round 3 and then Stade Francais 15-10 last weekend.