Top 14 Betting Preview, Tips & Free Predictions
Life is often tight at the top of the French table and whilst La Rochelle and Montpellier have the whip hand in terms of table-topping positions, with 39 and 37 points respectively, but the league leaders are on the road this weekend which gives Montpellier a chance to leapfrog them and take top spot. Here’s some of the best action below.
Racing 92 v ToulouseOnly a point separates Racing 92 and Toulouse ahead of their meeting, with both big contenders for the playoffs. Indeed Racing will be frustrated they’re not more in the running for European honours – had Teddy Thomas kept a hold of the ball when he fell over the line at Castres they would have won and have three wins from four. Tries from Leone Nakarawa, Virimi Vakatawa, Dimitri Szarzewski and Louis Dupichot meant that they won 29-7 in the reverse fixture here despite the red card that Juan Imhoff received through the game.
Toulouse are struggling to make it through to the Challenge Cup quarter-finals following their defeat at Lyon last week, but their domestic form this season has been much better than last, and they are in the thick of a close battle to make the playoffs. It will be a source of frustration that they didn’t build on a fine early start last week, going 8-0 up in a short space of time thanks to Sebastien Bezy’s penalty and a try from full-back Sofiane Guitoune. Toulouse may well make some changes, but Racing’s home advantage should prove to be enough here.
Advice: Racing -7.5 (10/11 general)
Lyon face a daunting trip to Montpellier, who are lying second and fresh off back to back wins against Glasgow in the Champions Cup. The one negative for them is the serious looking knee injury that Aaron Cruden suffered towards the end of the game, and it is likely that either Benoit Paillaugue or Thomas Lamont will play at 10 there. Lyon have lost five of their last six, but did arrest the losing streak in the best style, with a hard-fought victory against Toulouse that keeps their European hopes well and truly alive – and it’s worth noting they’re third in the table.
La Rochelle are top of the table but will probably need to win at Bordeaux if they’re to keep their spot at the top of the table, although apart from their defeat at Wasps their recent form has been impressive enough to give them a fighting chance of gaining another road win. Wasps have three wins on the road already in the Top 14 and played better than the scoreline suggested at the Ricoh Arena. Bordeaux’s last home win in the Top 14 came against second bottom side
Speaking of European hopes, Clermont’s are now shining brightly after a bruising encounter against Saracens which saw them complete a fine double against the European Champions, although Damien Penaud is out for three months and Alivereti Raka is out for the season. Pau are on a winning run of form and whilst they didn’t have it all their own way against Agen, they made it four wins from four in the Challenge Cup after they won 26-12 last week.
A fine run of form has seen Castres rise upto the heady heights of fifth now and they meet another in-form team in Stade Francais They had some good fortune when beating Racing 16-13 in the Champions Cup thanks to Benjamin Urdapilleta's late penalty, but before that they had managed to win away at Toulouse and also just edge Toulon to boot. Stade Francais have also beaten Racing at home recently and completed a European double in the Challenge Cup, although against far less exalted company – beating London Irish at the Madjeski Stadium.
Toulon’s epic doubleheader with Bath ended in the most dramatic fashion, with the former European and Top 14 Champions pushing towards the Bath tryline before the home side; They should find their home fixture against Oyonnax an easier affair. The visitors scored three early tries to get the better of Worcester in the Challenge Cup but they might not have the pace and skill of Johnathan Joseph, Antony Watson, Aled Brew and Rhys Priestland.
Brive and Agen face off in a basement battle which will go a long way to deciding who stays up – the two are within four points of Oyonnax but have a chance to pit some distance between them and the bottom given that the basement dwellers must to go to the Stade Mayol.
Advice: Toulon -19 (10/11 general), Montpellier -9 (10/11 general)
Rugby Top14 Statistics:
- Brive have the worst disciplinary record in the Top 14, with 10 yellow cards and one red
- Montpellier have the best home record in the Top 14, having won all 6 of their home games
- Benjamin Urdapilleta's 46 attempted kicks are the most of any player in the Top 14 so far this season
- Two players have a 100% record, and both of them – Maxime Machenaud and Patrick Lambie, play for Racing 92
- Bordeaux Begles have the best success rate when down at half time – 67% of those games have ended in a win for Bordeaux