Clermont look to pull clear
September 18, 2009
Marius Joubert is set to return for Clermont © Getty Images
Bayonne 26 - 3 Montpellier Castres 9 - 6 Racing Metro Perpignan 28 - 9 Montauban Brive 12 - 15 Biarritz Albi 8 - 40 Clermont Auvergne Stade Français 20 - 6 Bourgoin-Jallieu
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The action should have gotten underway on Friday with Montpellier travelling to face Bayonne at the Stade Jean Dauger, but torrential rain has forced the officials to postpone the fixture.
On Saturday Albi welcome leaders Clermont Auvergne to the Stade Municipal and will be buoyed by their battling display against Toulouse last round. Toulouse scraped to a 19-13 victory despite the best efforts of Albi try-scorer Lucas Borges and fly-half Blair Stewart. Injuries have hampered their preparations this week, with Vincent Clement expected to shift from the back-row to lock alongside Thomas Vervoort.
Clermont are able to call on three big names for the trip, with Julien Bonnaire, Julien Malzieu and Springbok centre Marius Joubert all included in the squad. Last season's beaten finalists go in to the game off the back of a 30-22 victory over Racing Metro.
Stade Francais and Bourgoin face off at the Stade Jean-Bouin, with both teams having registered important victories last weekend. Stade thrashed Castres to get their season back on track, while cash-strapped Bourgoin pulled off one of the surprises of the season in defeating champions Perpignan at the Stade des Alpes in Grenoble.
Stade are waiting on a disciplinary hearing against lock Pascal Pape, while the halfback pairing of Julien Dupuy and Noel Oelschig should again be called into action.
Biarritz, fresh from their derby victory over Bayonne, are away to Brive this weekend, with the Stade Amedee Domenech set to host an important game. Brive are still likely to be without fly-half Andy Goode despite the fact that he has elected not to undergo surgery and is back in training.
Biarritz call on Ayoola Erinle and Damien Traille in a big-hitting centre combination, with lightning fast USA wing Takudzwa Ngwenya taking his place out wide. Jerome Thion skippers the side, with Magnus Lund and Imanol Harinordoquy continuing in the back-row.
Castres will want to get their season going against Racing Metro. Having returned from their swine-flu enforced break to a heavy defeat by Stade and an 18-18 draw with Montauban their early-season momentum has dissipated.
Perpignan host Montauban at the Stade Aime-Giral having slipped to third behind Clermont and Toulouse, but they'll get no favours from the visitors who have been in fine form of late. Their winning run was halted by the draw with Castres in midweek, a game that they failed to win despite Castres losing hooker Mathieu Bonello to a first-half red card.
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