Top 14 - Round 6 Preview
Stade look to turn over a new leaf
September 11, 2009
Racing Metro's Andrew Mehrtens will take aim at Clermont this weekend © Getty Images
Round six of the Top 14 kicks off on Friday night, with reigning champions Perpignan sitting pretty at the top of the table. They take on financially stricken Bourgoin at the Stade des Alpes on Friday in our Game of the Week.
Elsewhere, Stade Francais head in to their first game under the supervision of new coaches Jacque Delmas and Didier Faugeron, who replaced Ewen McKenzie and Christophe Dominci this week after the Parisian giants slipped in to the relegation zone.
They face Castres, whose fine run of form was disrupted by an outbreak of swine flu in recent weeks. They had games against Albi and Montauban postponed, but their 33-18 victory over Montpellier last weekend showed plenty of promise and attacking enterprise.
Toulouse slipped to defeat against Clermont Auvergne at the Stade Marcel Michelin last time out and will be hopeful of rediscovering their try-scoring touch against basement side Albi. Albi are yet to register a victory since their promotion from Pro D2 and will be up against it despite Toulouse's unusual lack of attacking bite in recent losses.
Clermont are hot on the heels of Perpignan after their well-deserved win and they too are up against newly-promoted opposition. Sebatien Chabal, Lionel Nallet and Racing Metro are the visitors and they'll desperately want to arrest a two-game losing run that has seen them drop to ninth. Former All Black fly-half Andrew Mehrtens has been rolling back the years in recent weeks and will go up against Clermont points-machine Brock James.
After a disappointing season last year, Biarritz have found some form early on and after seeing off Stade last week their task gets no easier with free-scoring Bayonne heading to the Estadio Anoeta in San Sébastien, Spain for the first Basque derby of the season.
The visitors ran seven tries past Bourgoin in a 51-6 triumph last Sunday, with Pepito Elhorga, Jean-Baptiste Peyras-Loustalet and Benjamin Fall all bagging braces from the back-three, and a capacity crowd is on the cards.
Toulon's unbeaten run ended with a bump against Montauban at the Stade de Sapiac and they'll likely welcome back Jonny Wilkinson for an away trip to face Montpellier. The England fly-half was rested for the 21-18 defeat but could sure up the backline against a Montpellier side that has failed to kick on from an early win over the champions Perpignan.
Montauban's victories over Toulon and Stade have rescued a dismal start to the season and with a game in hand on their rivals the visit of Brive allows them the chance to make a dent on the top reaches of the table. Brive have served up a mixed bag so far, with two wins, two defeats and a draw with Clermont.