Bet: Clermont -23.5
First day of TOP 14.
Clermont had a catastrophic 2017/2018 season. The ASM finished 9th and was never able to fight for the TOP 6, so they started training early in order to be ready for the new season. The ASM’s roster has changed marginally. Some turnover players have left (Rougerie, Gérondeau, Chaume, Jarvis, Strettle, Nakaitaci, Speeding). Clermont made a targeted recruitment with very few arrivals. Only Apisai Naqalevu, George Moala and Tim Nanai-Williams signed.
Like all the other clubs in the Top 14, ASM is without its internationals Kolelishvili, Slimani, Cancoriet, Lapandry, Parra, Penaud, Lamerat and Grosso. Fofana, Jedrasiak, Moala and Abendanon are injured. Despite this, the team looks very good. In front it is solid with a third row Yato – Lee – Chouly. At the back, it’s also very heavy with Raka, Toeava, Naqalevu, … On the bench, there are some youngsters like Fischer and Sipili Falatea but that remains correct.
Agen will, again, fight to avoid coming down. This summer, the SUA lost several key players like Arthur Joly (La Rochelle), Antoine Erbani (Pau), Pierre Fouyssac (Toulouse), Filipo Nakosi (Toulon), George Tisley (Bordeaux). Recruitment has not been up to the task. They took many Pro D2 players like Xerom Civil, Romain Briatte, Rimilai Rokoduru. Several youngsters were loaned and experienced Yohan Montès and winger Benito Masilevu joined the club. The goal is not this match but next week’s against Perpignan. Facundo Bosch is in the national team with Argentina, Massilevu, Rokoduru, Fonua, Verdu and Sadie and Phelipponneau are left to rest.
Sam Vaka who arrived last summer will play his first game for a year. The front 8 is correct but at the back, it is very weak. The bench is also very light.
I see Clermont start very strong the season. Clermont can win by 30 or more.