Top 14 Round Four: Preview
Last Updated: September 7, 2012 12:35pm
Biarritz have won all three of their games this season
Biarritz and Toulon look to maintain unbeaten records
Biarritz will look to maintain their unbeaten start to the Top 14 season when they tackle Montpellier on Saturday.
Biarritz could not have asked for a better start to their campaign with three straight wins - including last week's success over the defending champions.
The league leaders will now face, though, a Montpellier side that beat them twice last season.
And despite their missing Argentina contingent, Montpellier beat Clermont and thumped Agen in the last fortnight, suggesting they are a decent bet to make the play-offs again.
There will be a battle of the new-boys when Genoble take on Mont-de-Marsan in a gma eboth will have circled as must-win.
Fabrice Landreau's team will be looking to build on last week's win over Stade Français, which has left them lying in mid-table.
Mont-de-Marsan, though, are still without points after three games and are the outstanding favourites for the drop.
There hopes will not have been helped by news scrum-half Benat Arrayet is out for action for two weeks.
Stade Francais will look for a return to home comforts on Saturday against Castres after their loss on the road to Grenoble.
Stade Français manager Richard Pool-Jones slammed his side's performance in Grenoble and has made it clear he expects more, whether at home or away.
Loose forward Antoine Burban makes his return from injury for the hosts but Stanley Wright (calf), Gérhard Mostert (shoulder) and Pierre Rabadan (calf) are still absent.
Castres, who have won just once in 13 trips to Paris, welcome back prop Yannick Forestier.
Winless Perpignan will face a well-drilled Bayonne - with the Basques conceding less than 10 points a game.
The Catalans have been hit by news Sofiane Guitoune and Jean-Pierre Perez have both ruptured knee ligaments, while Kisi Pulu has suffered a broken arm and skipper Nicolas Mas has torn his groin.
Bayonne have been bolstered by the return of Guillaume Bernad, Dewald Senekal, Manu Ahotaeiloa and Sam Gerber.
Toulouse will look to bounce back from their loss to Biarritz when they entertain Agen.
Toulouse have had a shaky start to the season and they need to step up a gear - however they will fancy their chances against an Agen side who have not won at Stade Ernest Wallon since 1997.
For Toulouse, playmaker Luke McAlister and Georgian prop Valil Kakovin have recovered from injury and trained normally with the team on Wednesday. Both could start.
Toulon, who like Biarritz are unbeaten this season, should make it four wins from four against Bordeaux.
The visitors have opted to send a weakened line-up to Stade Felix Mayol, while Toulon have a wealth of talent to choose from.
The match of the weekend could be on Sunday when Clermont take on Racing Metro.
The Parisians have never won in Clermont, but they have genuine title ambitions this season - so will be out to keep the early pressure on.
Clermont, who have not lost at home in 44 games, will be without Sitiveni Sivivatu and Alexandre Lapandry, while Aurelien Rougerie, David Skrela, Julien Malzieu and Benjamin Kayser are doubtful.
Racing welcome back Italy prop Andrea Lo Cicero but will be without South African lock Fracois van der Merwe.Rugby Club Toulonnais v Union Bordeaux-Bègles
Stade Felix Mayol, Toulon
Co-leaders Toulon play their first game at home with Fred Michalak set to get his first taste of the atmosphere at Stade Felix Mayol (his only game against Toulon during his days with Toulouse was in Marsaille).
The odds are that Toulon will make it four wins from four and even bag a bonus point to take the outright lead because Bordeaux-Bègles are sending a weakened team.
While UBB look to be choosing their battles, Toulon have the squad depth to keep the pedal to the metal all season.
Chris Masoe is back with patched-up ear. David Smith and Sébastien Tillous-Bordes are also back in the mix.
Results last season: Toulon won 44-7 at home and 27-16 in Bordeaux
Prediction: It's a mismatch. Toulon to win with a bonus point
Kick-off: 20.35 (18.35 GMT)
Referee: Christophe Berdos
ASM Clermont Auvergne v Racing-Métro 92
Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin, Clermont Ferrand
Racing-Métro have never won in Clermont. In fact, since their return to the top division, Racing have won just two games out of sevens against .
But les Franciliens have genuine title ambitions this season so will want to take something back to the capital.
Clermont have not last at home in 44 games and after running seven tries past Perpignan last week, it would be unwise to bet against the hosts.
Racing welcome back Italian prop Andrea Lo Cicero but will be without South African lock Fracois van der Merwe.
Clermont wing Sitiveni Sivivatu has a torn thigh muscle while Alexandre Lapandry is out with shoulder injury. Aurélien Rougerie, David Skrela , Julien Malzieu and Benjamin Kayser are doubful starters. However, Julien Bardy and Jean-Marcellin Buttin, are fit again.
Results last season: Clermont won 31-13 at home and 22-11 in Paris
Prediction: Clermont at home? Clermont to win by ten points
Kick-off: 21.00 (19.00 GMT)
Referee: Jean-Luc Rebollal