Clermont hoping to capitalise
April 1, 2010
Can Brock James and Clermont keep the pressure on? © Getty Images
Castres 11 - 17 Perpignan Stade FranÃ§ais 19 - 10 Clermont Auvergne Biarritz 42 - 13 Montauban Brive 25 - 15 Bourgoin-Jallieu Montpellier 62 - 17 Albi Toulon 31 - 13 Bayonne Toulouse 28 - 23 Racing Metro
Things are rarely dull in France's top flight and the latest round of action from the Top 14 promises plenty of thrills and spills.
With Montauban's relegation at the hands of the DNACG and subsequent appeal set to complicate matters at the bottom, there's still plenty to play for up top where leaders Castres and Perpignan go head-to-head at the Stade Pierre-Antoine on Saturday night in out Game of the Week.
With their two main rivals for a top two spot set to take points off each other, Clermont Auvergne will want to capitalise fully on Stade Francais' dismal form at the Stade Jean Bouin on Saturday. Ominously for the struggling home side Clermont will travel with a full complement of international stars, including France's Grand Slam-winning 'little general' in scrum-half Morgan Parra. Stade's future coach, Leinster boss Michael Cheika, will be present to observe his future charges and also Clermont, who meet his European champions next weekend in the last-eight of the Heineken Cup.
Toulon are sitting pretty in fourth and face lowly Bayonneat the Stade Mayol on Saturday. France wing Benjamin Fall is again unavailable for the visitors due to persistent ankle problems.
Toulouse and Racing-Metro occupy the remaining play-off places and face off at the Stade Ernest Wallon. Toulouse remain six points clear of Racing despite last weekend's loss to Biarritz while the visitors themselves have a handy seven-point cushion over chasing Biarritz. Racing again travel without injured fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski but are able to call on former All Black Andrew Mehrtens and their French international forward duo of Lionel Nallet and Sebastien Chabal. Toulouse are likely to call on French skipper Thierry Dusautoir as well as prop Jean-Baptiste Poux and centre Yannick Jauzion.
After a bad week at the office, Montauban face Biarritz at the Parc des Sports Aguilera and the home side will want a bonus-point win and for Racing to lose out as they chase a play-off spot. Brive are able to call on England centre Riki Flutey for only the fourth time in the league this season against Bourgoin while the weekend's final game sees Albi host Montpellier at the Stade Yves du Manoir.
"I had a perfect record against England as did a few other Welshmen. England always seemed to bring the best out of us." John Taylor on the age-old rivalry
Are the margins between the teams in the Six Nations getting smaller year-on-year? Huw Richards gives some answers
Martin Gillingham looks at the state of play in the Top 14 and gives his take on the club versus country battle harming the prospects of the French side
Manu Tuilagi, Cockerill's psychological warfare and Saracens' brute strength - it is the Monday Maul