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Preview – Top14 Round 2

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This weekend’s Top 14 action will see a rematch of last season’s final as Clermont face Toulon at Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin on Sunday.

Six games are also played on Saturday with Stade Français taking on La Rochelle being the standout contest.

Saturday

Agen vs Racing 92
Stade Français vs La Rochelle
Castres vs Bordeaux-Bègles
Lyon vs Brive
Montpellier vs Oyonnax
Toulouse vs Pau

Sunday

Clermont Auvergne vs Toulon

Agen vs Racing 92
Stade Armandie, Agen

Following Agen’s opening day reality check, which ended in Montpellier strolling to a 48-19 triumph, last season’s Pro D2 play-off winners face another tough task in round two.

Fresh from a 25-21 come-from-behind success over a strong Castres outfit, Racing will be looking to lay down an early marker and secure a third regular season victory in a row.

Having won the title in 2016, the Parisians’ away form was a concern the following campaign and it is an area they will be looking to address.

Last year’s result: Did not play
Kick-off: 14:45 local (12:45 GMT)
Referee: Pierre Brousset
Assistant referees: Regis Guatelli, Eric Soulan
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure

Stade Français vs La Rochelle
Stade Jean-Bouin, Paris

La Rochelle hinted that last season’s campaign was not a fluke by defeating Brive 19-10 at the Stade Amedee-Domenech in round one.

With an encounter against a side possibly reeling from the events of the previous campaign, two away victories in a row would set them up perfectly for the year ahead.

Greg Cooper’s men still appear to be finding their feet following Hans-Peter Wild’s takeover and were ultimately out-fought by Lyon last weekend.

Stade will be looking to avenge that opening day home defeat and reward their loyal supporters but, for a squad which has not seen significant investment, it may well prove to be a step too far.

Last year’s result: Stade Français won 31-26
Kick-off: 16:45 local (14:45 GMT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal
Assistant referees: Vincent Blasco-Baque, Thierry Guilloton
TMO: Laurent Sclafer

Castres vs Bordeaux-Bègles
Stade Pierre-Antoine, Castres

Bordeaux will go to the Stade Pierre-Antoine full of confidence after putting a summer of upheaval behind them by shocking defending champions Clermont 32-25.

They will face a side who themselves almost got the perfect start but, despite being 18-3 up against Racing at one stage, Christophe Urios’ men ultimately succumbed to the 2016 Top 14 winners.

UBB have disappointingly missed out on the play-offs over the last two years following significant investment, but a victory here over a team that finished in the top-six in 2016-17 would be a large step forward.

Last year’s result: Castres won 33-27
Kick-off: 18:45 local (16:45 GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite
Assistant referees: Hervé Lasausa Lespy Labaylette, Akim Hadj-Bachir
TMO: Mourad Zitouni

Lyon vs Brive
Matmut Stadium de Gerland, Lyon

If Lyon are to be realistic play-off challengers, you would think that an improvement on last season’s 15-all draw with Brive would be absolutely vital. And on the basis of last weekend’s results, you wouldn’t back against it.

Pierre Mignoni’s side were impressive in overcoming Stade Français in Paris while Saturday’s opponents went down to La Rochelle at their usually impenetrable fortress.

Brive have produced the odd shock away result and their triumph over Clermont towards the latter end of the previous campaign was particularly noteworthy, but Les Loups appear too strong this time around.

Last year’s result: Lyon and Brive drew 15-15
Kick-off: 18:45 local (16:45 GMT)
Referee: Jonathan Dufort
Assistant referees: Laurent Millotte, Bruno Gabaldon
TMO: Eric Gonthier

Montpellier vs Oyonnax
Altrad Stadium, Montpellier

Firstly Agen and now Oyonnax, both at home, the fixtures could not have fallen any kinder for Vern Cotter in his first season in charge.

Montpellier comfortably dispatched one of the promoted sides last weekend and it is hard to imagine them not repeating the feat against the other Top 14 newcomers.

Last season’s Pro D2 winners gained, on the face of it, a creditable draw with Toulouse in round one, but they would have been disappointed not to have gone away with an even better result.

For one, they led 23-16 with just six minutes to go, while it also remains to be seen how good Les Rouge et Noir will prove to be in 2017/18. A tough evening awaits for Oyonnax.

Last year’s result: Did not play
Kick-off: 18:45 local (16:45 GMT)
Referee: Ludovic Cayre
Assistant referees: Laurent Cardona, Arnaud Blondel
TMO: Patrick Dellac

Toulouse vs Pau
Stade Ernest-Wallon, Toulouse

This is an important game for both teams, even this early into the season. Although Toulouse did not lose in the opening round, a draw against promoted Oyonnax represented a frustrating start for Ugo Mola’s men.

With the pressure on the head coach to improve on their shoddy 12th place from the previous campaign, Les Rouge et Noir need a positive start to the year.

A victory over Pau would ease the strain but it is no guarantee with them up against a talented side who are aiming for the play-offs in 2017/18.

Simon Mannix’s charges were completely outclassed by an impressive Toulon in the opening round and another away game is not ideal after such a defeat, but a repeat of last season’s result is not out of the question.

Last year’s result: Pau won 20-10
Kick-off: 20:45 local (18:45 GMT)
Referee: Cyril Lafon
Assistant referees: Sebastien Minery, Laurent Perrin
TMO: Eric Briquet-Campin

Clermont Auvergne vs Toulon
Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin, Clermont-Ferrand

One of the games of the season and it’s only the start of September. It should be an absolute humdinger and not a repeat of what happened last year when Clermont thrashed a disorganised and forlorn Toulon.

Under new head coach Fabien Galthié, the three-time European champions seem to be revitalised and that was in evidence in their opening encounter.

Having comfortably defeated Pau 41-14, Galthié’s men will now look for revenge on the side that beat them in the 2017 final.

However, Clermont are a club that pride themselves on their record at the Marcel Michelin and Franck Azema will demand a response from their round one loss to Bordeaux.

Last year’s result: Clermont won 30-6
Kick-off: 16:50 local (14:50 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gauzere
Assistant referees: Maxime Chalon, Laurent Breil
TMO: Eric Gauzins

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