Preview Aurillac – Carcassonne

Bet: Carcassonne +7.5
Odds: 1.87
Stake: 5/10
Bookie: 188bet

Third day of Pro D2.

As I said on the first day, Aurillac is for me the weakest team in this Pro D2. The Cantalians have lost many important players this summer and have recruited very few new players. Aurillac beat Oyonnax (20-19) in the first day before losing heavily in Provence Rugby (48-18). Aurillac has many missing players. Nouhaillaguet, Van der Walt, Amrouni, Fabro, Ostberg, Merab Sharikadze, Tsustskiridze, Pierre Gaveau, Albert Valentin, Yann Lohoré were injured. So Nel and Salles will play for the first time on the wing..

Carcassonne is making a good start to the season. They took a defensive bonus at Montauban and won it in front of Angoulême last week. Carcassonne has a more than solid team, capable of playing the first half of the draw. Compared to last week, Wihongi and Coste are rested. The team is solid with Valentine in scrumhalf who is one of the best 9 of the championship. Mac Mahon is excellent in this early season while Jasmin is a formidable try hunter. Big bench with Fournier, Zito, Meité, Bosch, Marrou, …

It’s hard to say who’s gonna win this game. I see Carcassonne stronger on the paper. So I take them with the handicap.

Preview Cardiff – Leinster

Bet: Cardiff +2.5
Odds: 1.925
Stake: 3/10
Bookie: PINNACLE

First day of Pro 14.

Cardiff won the Challenge Cup last season beating Gloucester in the final. Last season Cardiff finished 4th in his group behind Glasgow, Munster and Cheetahs but ahead of Ospreys and Connacht. This summer, the Blues have strengthened their squad. They lost Cuthbert (Exeter) and Warberton (retired) but they took the Arhip prop, the number 8 Samu Manoa and the 3/4 Jason Harries. Samu Manoa, Gareth Anscombe, Josh Navidi, Matthew Rees and Gethin Jenkins are absent. But, the starting XV remains very competitive.

Leinster won the Pro 14 by beating the Scarlets in the final. This summer they lost Strauss, Nacewa and Heaslip who retired. Joey Carbery signed at Munster while Jordi Murphy joined Ulster. Only Joe Tomane arrived in Leinster this summer. For this game, the Leinster has many absentees. Josh van der Flier, Sean O’Brien, Ciaran Frawley, Will Connors, Garry Ringrose, Dan Leavy are injured. Sexton, Healy, Cronin, Furlong, Toner, Larmour, Lowe, Henshaw, Ryan are out. The start XV is very light, especially in front. At the back, there are players like Kearney or Byrne who can make the difference.

This game is 50/50 but I give a slight advantage to Cardiff.

Preview La Rochelle – Toulon

Bet: La Rochelle 1-12
Stake: 3/10
Book: Bet365
Odd: 2.37

Last game the 18th day of TOP 14.

La Rochelle remains on a setback at Racing 19-12 last week. They made a turnover with many usual starter on the bench. They were led 19-0 at the break, and won the 2nd half 12-0.
This team is not as impressive as at the beginning of the season. they losy to Ulster without convincing, win only 16-7 against the Quins and 33-24 against Brive who took the same try 3 times.
La Rochelle has a lot of absentees: Corbel, Pelo, Tufele, Jolmes, Qovu, Amosa, Alldritt, Retiere, Lacroix are wounded. Doumayrou and Priso are in France team.
The Maritimes are light in 2nd row. On the bench, youngster Aouf makes his first appearance.

Toulon is 6th and directly under the threat of Pau and Lyon. The RCT is in danger. Next week, Toulon is moving to Lyon. They must aim for one of the 2 games to stay in the TOP 6. Toulon is much better for several weeks.
Guilhem Guirado, Mathieu Bastareaud, Hugo Bonneval, Romain Taofifenua and François Trinh-Duc are in the French team. Chilachava is with Georgia, Josua Tuisova is suspended, Charles Ollivon, Mamuka Gorgodze, Samu Manoa, Jonah Placid, Swan Rebbadj and Malakai Fekitoa are wounded.
The starting XV is solid. There are unknowns with Wisniewski and Clerc. In front, they seem to me more powerful with Kruger Lakafia and Verumeulen.

I expect a tight match. La Rochelle should win. I bet La Rochelle by 1-12 (winning margin).

Preview Grenoble – Montauban

Bet: Grenoble -7.5
Stake: 3/10
Book: Bet365
Odd: 1.90

Grenoble recovers many players for this match. Arnaud Héguy and Mickaël Capelli are still out but players like Setephano, Geraci and Gigashvili are back. They will line up their best team for a long time. The pack of forward is very huge and there is a lot of qualities in the backline.
Grenoble is 5th and must absolutely win this game !

Montauban remains on a loss at home against Carcassonne. They are now 2nd with 3 points less than Perpignan. Montauban have quality players. The best player of the team, Engelbrecht will start on the bench. Some usual starters like Darbo, Mathy, Haddon, Ascarat, Sergueev, Tekassala, Facundo, Florent Domenech are not in the group. The pack is not as powerfull as it could be.

I think that Grenoble will win. They want to take a revenge because they remain on a home victory. They can win by at least 10.

Preview Bordeaux – Castres

Bet: Castres +5.5
Stake: 5/10
Book: Pinnacle
Odd: 1.925

Decisive match for the top 6 between Bordeaux and Castres. Start at 12h30.

Bordeaux is 9th with 10 points behind the sixth LOU who has one more match. At home, the Girondins are still unbeaten this season in TOP 14.

06.01.18 T14 Bordeaux Bègles Lyon OU 19 : 10
23.12.17 T14 Bordeaux Bègles Stade Rochelais 29 : 19
25.11.17 T14 Bordeaux Bègles CA Brive 27 : 27
18.11.17 T14 Bordeaux Bègles SU Agen 33 : 23
07.10.17 T14 Bordeaux Bègles RC Toulon 30 : 27
23.09.17 T14 Bordeaux Bègles Montpellier Herault RC 47 : 17
09.09.17 T14 Bordeaux Bègles Stade Francais 30 : 10
26.08.17 T14 Bordeaux Bègles ASM Clermont 32 : 25

It can be noted that they had been very affected by the duplicates in November with a short win over Agen and a draw against Brive. Once again, Bordeaux will be very weakened for this meeting. Poirot, Pélissié, Tauleigne are in France team. Jalibert, Cros, Braid, Domvo, Lesgourgues, Dubie, Talebula, Maynadier are injured.
The young hooker Dufour will start for the first time in TOP 14. The fourth hooker in the hierarchy Maxime Lamothe (18 years) will take place on the bench.

Castres is 8th with 4 points less than Lyon. The Castrais have already made several shots outside as in Clermont (27-31), Toulouse (31-41) or Oyonnax (31-41). They remain on two cons-performance: a setback at home against Racing (13-18) and Agen (30-3).
The CO has very little absence for this match. Palis is in France team. Kockott is sick. Vaipulu is suspended.
It is with the big team that Castres go to Bordeaux. Captain Capo Ortega is back. The back line is of high quality. On the bench, we find players like Jenneker, Jelonch, Caballero, ….

In front, the two teams are equal but at back, I give a big advantage to Castres. I expect a very tight match. Last year, Castres won in Bordeaux (17-29). Two years ago, Bordeaux had won only 3 points.

Right handicap: Castres +3.5

Preview Agen – Toulouse

Bet: Agen -2
Stake: 5/10
Book: Pinnacle
Odd: 1.99

17th day of TOP 14

Agen is penultimate with one point less than Brive. This match is decisive for the SUA because Brive also has a home game. Just before the truce, Agen lost very surprisingly on the lawn of LOU (71-17). We could explain that heavy loss by the fact that Nakosi and Miquel, two of the best players on the team, were missing.
Agen is efficient at home. The SUA remains on four consecutive successes on its ground.

06.01.18 T14 SU Agen Olympic Castres 30: 3
23.12.17 T14 SU Agen CA Brive 27: 13
25.11.17 T14 SU Agen French Stage 29: 13
04.11.17 T14 SU Agen RC Toulon 26: 24

Agen is solid in front. The back line is fast and plays very well.

Toulouse is very disappointing this season. Stade Toulousain is only 6th in the TOP 14 and plays very bad. On the road, The Stadium remains on two losses with bonuses to Pau (11-10) and Racing 23-19). These two teams don’t play as well as Agen. They have a game that is better suited to Mola’s men.
For this match, Toulouse is weakened. Scrum halves Dupont and Bézy are out. So, Kolbe takes place on the bench. He will cover the position of 9. The left props Baille, Pointud, Castets, Duprat are injured. So, it is the young Rodrigue Neti who will start in this position. Richie Gray is injured while Maestri is suspended.

Agen can’t loose this one. Against a Toulouse team that will start without 2 key players (Kolbe and Dupont) and who struggles in the game, I see the SUA to win.

Right handicap: -3.5.

Preview Toulon – Stade Français

Bet: Toulon -21
Stake: 5/10
Book: Pinnacle
Odd: 1.90

17th day of TOP 14.

Toulon played bad at the beginning of the season before waking up before the truce. They beat Bordeaux 36-12 and Treviso 36-0! Toulon is now in the TOP 6 but only one point ahead of the 7th, the LOU.

Guirado and Levan Chulachava are in selection. Tuisova is suspended. Belleau was sanctioned by its president for his night out with the French Team. Samu Manoa, Charles Ollivon, Juandre Kruger, Swan Rebbad, Jonah Placid and Mamuka Gorgodze are injured. Bastareaud, Bonneval, Trinh-Duc and Taoffifenua were released by the XV of France and will start.

Lock Dave Atwood, medical joker of Ollivon, will start for the first time. The team is very strong in front. Behind also, it’s very heavy.

Stade Français is only 11th with 4 points ahead of Agen. Parisians will receive Agen next week! The coaches have decided to rest several usual starters like like Ensor, O’Connor and Waisea. Djibril Camara, Rémy Bonfils, Sakaria Taulafo, Antoine Burban and Sylvain Nicolas are injured. Sergio Parisse, Zurab Zhvania, Arthur Coville, Paul Gabrillagues and Giorgi Melikidze are on international duties.
It is a lot of players out for this team which has not a big bench.. The prop Elies El Ansari (20 years old) will start for the first tim. The pack of forward is not bad with a nice back rows but behind it is weak. McLeod is way too slow. Yobo and Martial do not have the level .. Millet it not a top layer .. On the bench, there is nobody to cover the positions of 11 to 15 .. Away, Stade Français has already lost heaviy like in Clermont (33-20), Castres (28-6) or Toulouse (53-17). Parisians remain on a loss 40-5 at home against Pau.

Toulon must win and take a maximum of points against Parisians certainly more focused on the meeting next weekend. The only risk is the rain but it should be light.

Preview Oyonnax – Montpellier

Bet: Montpellier -6.5
Stake: 5/10
Book: Pinnacle
Odd: 1.862

Montpellier moves to Oyonnax on behalf of the 17th day of TOP 14.

Oyonnax is last with 14 points, 9 less than Agen. The Oyomen are clearly below the other teams in this championship. If the USO plays well with the ball, in front, it lacks power and defensively, they are bad.
At home, Oyonnax is not used to loose. They beat Agen’s B team by only 2 points. In front of La Rochelle, they were led by 10 points just few minutes from the end but managed to take the draw because La Rochelle relaxed.

06.01.18 T14 US Oyonnax Stade Rochelais 38: 38
30.12.17 T14 US Oyonnax Racing 92 12: 16
25.11.17 T14 US Oyonnax ASM Clermont 32: 32
04.11.17 T14 US Oyonnax Olympic Castres 19: 32
07.10.17 T14 US Oyonnax Section Paloise 16: 19
30.09.17 T14 US Oyonnax Bordeaux Begles 9: 39
09.09.17 T14 US Oyonnax SU Agen 12:10
26.08.17 T14 US Oyonnax Stade Toulousain 23: 23

Oyonnax has few players with Top 14 standart: hooker MacDonald, back rows Taieb, Ursache and Grice, opener Botica and fullback Basson. For this match, the fullback Basson is injured as Sykes, Sobela, Ma’afu, Tauleigne, Audy and Hopper. Captain Ursache is in on international duty with Romania while the number 8 Grice is suspended following his red card against Toulouse. The back row is so weakened that the coaches decided to line up the usual hooker Hikawera Elliot in number 6.

Just before the truce, Montpellier had created the surprise by winning at Clermont thanks to a try of Nadolo in the last minutes of the meeting. This was the third success of the MHR on the road this season in the TOP 14. Previously, the men of Vern Cotter had won in Pau (16-22) and Castres (17-22).

Montpellier also has a lot of absentees. Nariashvili and Camara are in selection. Mikautadze, Paillaugue, Bardy, Watremez, Liebenberg, Jacques Du Plessis, Cruden are wounded. Fortunately, Fall, Gallterier and Picamoles were released by Jacques Brunel.

The starting XV is very solid. In front, they are very heavy. I have a little doubt however about the level of the lock Jarrad Hoeata. Former All Blacks, medical joker J. Du Plessis will debut for the first time tonight. Behind, it’s very heavy! The only thing that bothers me is that Steyn will start as 10. Every time he played this job, he was catastrophic.

If Montpellier takes this game seriously, they can win by more than 10.

Preview Nevers – Mont-de-Marsan

Bet: Nevers -4
Stake: 3/10
Book: Bet365
Odd: 1.90

Nevers receives Mont de Marsan tonight at 8pm.

Nevers is only 12th of Pro D2 with 42 points, 7 more than the Carcassonne. The Nivernois, however, plays a good rugby. As in Massy during the previous day where they largely dominated but lost by 10. The problem is that they have trouble converting their opportunities, due to the absence of a reliable striker. However, tonight, Vuillemin replaces Belie and it is him who will take the kicks. The starting XV is of high quality. In front, it’s solid, behind it goes fast but it lacks collective spirit. Finally, on the bench we find players like Quercy, Genevois or Toleafoa!
At home, they have lost only 3 times this season. 2 times, Fabrègues was absent and against Béziers, they took a try at the last minute.

Mont-de-Marsan is 3rd. Just before the truce, they were very scared at home against Dax where they almost lost.
This team is to my taste a little overrating. Especially when we take a look at his infirmary. Julien Tastet, the Cabannes brothers, Astle, Malafosse, Garrault, Desmaison, Wakaya …
Young sevens specialist Nisié Huyard will start for the first time, as will the medical joker Vasiteri Narumasa.

I see Nevers dominate in front. They will convert their opportunities because they have a reliable scorer. This handicap may seem a bit low.