Top 14 - Round 4 Preview
Toulouse look to bounce back
September 1, 2009

This season's Top 14 reaches round three on Wednesday night with Toulouse under pressure to get back to winning ways after tasting defeat at the hands of Perpignan on Saturday.

The defending champions will also looking to kick on to keep pace with early leaders Clermont Auvergne who along with Toulon and Castres are the only sides that remain unbeaten.

Toulouse host Bayonne with their recent fly-half injury concerns having spread through the backline to fullback. Maxime Medard's dislocated shoulder continues to keep him out of action and Clement Poitrenaud has joined him on the treatment table after fracturing his hand during the loss to Perpignan.

Bayonne failed to follow up their impressive victory over Stade at the weekend, losing out to Racing Metro, and will be up against it in Toulouse.

Clermont will be eyeing away success against Jonny Wilkinson and Toulon, although both sides have enjoyed strong starts to the season and are separated only by a Clermont try-bonus point in the table.

Toulon relied heavily on the boot of Wilkinson for a ponderous 15-9 win over newly-promoted Albi last time out and the England pivot will face stern competition in Brock James, one of the most reliable No.10s in French rugby.

Stade Francais notched their first win of the season against Montpellier on Saturday and will want to follow that up with victory over Montauban. Mark Gasnier was the hero at the weekend with a brace of tries, while Montauban will be well rested after their game with Castres was postponed due to an outbreak of swine flu in their opponents' camp.

That outbreak has also seen Castres' game with Albi called off this week, with both matches set to be rescheduled.

Bourgoin will hope for another positive result on field against Racing Metro as financial problems continue to dominate their season. A 22-16 win over Biarritz on Saturday was the first of the season for the strugglers, who still have 14 players on the sidelines after their licences were suspended as part of the financial crisis. Racing secured their second win of the season against Bayonne on Saturday thanks to the boot of veteran All Black fly-half Andrew Mehrtens.

Montpellier want to bounce back after losing to Stade when they face Biarritz, who themselves will be smarting after their surprise loss to Bourgoin.


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