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Top 14 round 5: preview and predictions

Frederic  Michalak makes his first start at fly-half  tonight when Toulon travel to Montpellier as Jonny Wilkinson is handed a rest after injuring his neck in the 42-12 victory over Bordeaux-Begles last week.

Englishmen, Andrew Sheridan and Steffon Armitage start at loose head and openside flanker while Simon Shaw, Gething Jenkicns and Nick Kennedy amongst the replacements.

Facing the French giants is England centre Shontaye Hape who starts at inside centre for the home side.

James Hook carries on in the No.10 jersey when Perpignan host Toulouse at Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium this weekend.

He will be helped by countryman Luke Charteris who comes back in the second row while Luke Narraway and Alasdair Strokosch will form a Anglo-Scot alliance in the back row.

Iain Balshaw will be hoping Biarritz can carry on their unbeaten start of the season when they travel to Castres.

Magnus Lund will start at blindside while  winger Aled Brew, who had a great start of the season, will sit on the bench.

Scotland international Max Evans will start at inside centre with former Worcester Warriors Marcel Garvey will start on the right wing for Castres.

Bayonne’s Mike Phillips retains his No.9 jersey for the reception of Racing Metro in a vital clash for the Basques club.

Lee Byrne remains at full-back for Clermont in what promises to be another try fest for the men in yellow when they travel to newcomers Mont-de-Marsan.

PREDICTIONS:

Agen v Grenoble – I hope my home town will avoid a fifth consecutive defeat and finally get going but newcomers Grenoble are tough. I’ll go with my heart and say Agen to win just.

Bayonne v Racing-Métro 92 – Bayonne has to win but Racing are on good form. Racing to clinch it late.

Bordeaux v Stade Francais – Stade Francais seem to forget how to play rugby outside the Paris ring-road and Bordeaux are very solid at home. Bordeaux win.

Castres v Biarritz – Castres has become one of toughest place to go to and it will be a big test for Biarritz despite their form. Castres by a whisker.

Mont-De-Marsan v Clermont Auvergne – Devotion won’t b enough against one of the best team in Europe. Big Clermont win.

Montpellier v Toulon – Toulon are something else this year and the young Montpellier side will experience what it takes to be a top European side.

Perpignan v Toulouse – Perpignan need all the support they can and travelling to Barcelona will only reduce their chance of winning. Toulouse win.

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