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Top 14 round 6: preview and predictions

This week the duel between Jonny Wilkinson and Frederic Michalak won’t happen as both will start for Toulon and form the half-back pairing for the reception of Castres.

Wilkinson has been in form since the start of the season but Michalak has picked up where he left off following a superb season with the Sharks in the SuperRugby to put on a man-of-the-match display against Montpellier last week from No.10.

They will be joined in the starting XV by Englishmen Delon and Steffon Armitage at full-back and openside as well as Andrew Sheridan at loose-head while Gethin Jenkins and Nick Kennedy are on the bench.

Following their much-needed win over Toulouse in Barcelona, James Hook will once again lead Perpignan from fly-half for their trip to struggling Stade Francais who have Paul Sackey on the wing.

Richard Haughton joins Hook in the back line for the Catalans while Luke Charteris, Luke Narraway and Alasdair Strokosch front up at lock, No.8 and blindside.

Aled Brew comes back into the starting team for Biarritz’s trip to Racing Metro while Ben Broster and Magnus Lund also start at tight-head and openside.

England World Cup winner Iain Balshaw will sit on the bench which boast French internationals Fabien Barcella, Wenceslas Lauret and Damien Traille as well as American flyer Takudzwa N’Gwenya.

Clermont full-back Lee Byrne is rested as the French giants host newcomers Grenoble in their Marcel Michelin fortress with Scot Nathan Hines is on the bench.

Shontayne Hape carries on at inside centre for Montpellier as they travel to Bordeaux-Begles who are slowly but surely becoming a potent force at home.

Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips starts again for Bayonne as they face the double reigning champions Toulouse at home.

PREDICTIONS:

Bayonne v Toulouse – The home side just avoided relegation last season and it will be another long one for the Basques. Toulouse will set the record straight after their unusual sloppy start of the season which saw them concede two defeats in five games already.

Bordeaux-Begles v Montpellier – Montpellier are not living up to the expectations and it will be a tough trip to Borbeaux who will get another win at home.

Clermont v Grenoble – Another try fest from the home side with a 50+ points win.

Mont-de-Marsan v Agen – This is going to be a long season for the home side and it won’t come easier to get a win at home than against Agen. I think they’ll get their first win after running Clermont close last week.

Racing Metro v Biarritz – Just like last week, it hurts me but I think Biarritz winning start will stall especially as they have rested some key players and Racing are a good team at home.

Stade Francais v Perpignan – Perpignan will be confident but they don’t travel well and the long trip to Paris will have its toll on the players. Also Stade Francais have to win to avoid a crisis that is looming since last season.

Toulon v Castres – Another week another win for Jonny’s boys before a tasty clash against Toulouse next week.

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