The second half of France's Top 14 starts this weekend when Bayonne visit redoubtable Toulouse. The Basques won at home in Round 1 but one cannot see them repeating the feat as they have collapsed somewhat and internal problems.
Possibly the most interesting team news is the return of Bakkies Botha to the field of play. There were some who believed he would not play again but he is in the squad to play Biarritz.
Agen, who are having a good season, will want to get back on track against a Brive side which is already looking desperate as the relegation spook walks again.
The last match of the weekend could, in theory, be closest and yet Biarritz have made such a habit of losing of late that one cannot see them succeeding against the ambitious men from the Mediterranean even without scrumhalf Toulon, Sébastien Tillous-Borde and hooker Jean-Philippe Genevois.
Friday, 30 December
21.00: Toulouse vs Bayonne at Stade Ernest Wallon
Saturday, 31 December
14.05: Montpellier vs Racing-Métro at Stade Yves du Manoir (Montpellier)
14.15: Castres vs Perpignan at Stade Pierre Antoine
14.15: Bordeaux vs Stade Français at Jacques Chaban-Delmas (Bordeaux)
14.15: Agen vs Brive at Stade Armandie
14.15: Lyon vs Clermont at Matmut Stadium
16.15: Biarritz vs Toulon at Parc Des Sports D'Aguilera
Log after Round 13
1 Toulouse 47
2 Clermont 44
3 Toulon 39
4 Castres 35
5 Stade Français 34
6 Racing Métro 34
7 Agen 32
8 Montpellier 27
9 Perpignan 25
10 Brive 23
11 Bayonne 22
12 Bordeaux 21
13 Lyon 18
14 Biarritz 15
Prediction: Not that they are necessarily significant but the results between these two teams in Round 1 were, winner at home unless otherwise stated:
Agen vs Brive, 20-19 in Brive
Bayonne vs Toulouse, 18-13
Clermont vs Lyon, 22-13 in Lyon
Perpignan vs Castres, 25-6
Racing-Métro vs Montpellier, 30-22
Stade Français vs Bordeaux, 41-20
Toulon vs Biarritz, 30-5
We forecast victories for Agen, Toulouse, Clermont, Castres, Montpellier, Stade Français and Toulon.
Toulouse lost Gary Botha last weekend to a broken leg and Stade have been compelled to employ a 'medical joker', in this case the Georgian veteran Akvsenti Giorgadze. Toulouse have also lost three props - Jean-Baptiste Poux and Springboks Daan Human and Gurthrö Steenkamp. 21-year-old prop Yassin Boutemane will come into the side.
Bayonne have Neemia Tialata back for the Toulouse match. The All Black was a late withdrawal last weekend because of a troublesome back. He replaces Renaud Boyoud.
For Biarritz Imanol Harinordoquy is again missing but Clément Poitrenaud is happy to be back.
Clermont have several top players back, which must make struggling Lyon nervous. Jamie Cudmore's damaged ribs may be keeping him out, but back march Wesley Fofana, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Gonzalo Canale, Benjamin Kayser and Jason White. Lyon, on the other hand, are without their flyhalf and principal goal-kicker, Romain Loursac.
Jean Monribot and Marc Giraud are back for Agen but hooker Julien Janaudy is out with a neck injury.
Biarritz are without scrumhalf Luix Roussarie who has been playing in the stead of Dimitri Yachvili.
Bayonne squad: David Roumieu, Denis Avril, François Da Ros, Aretz Iguiniz, Vitolio Manukula, Neemia Tialata, Abdellatif Boutaty, Troy Flavell, Rob Linde, Jean-Joseph Marmouyet, Sione Lauaki, Julien Puricelli, Marc Baget, Céderic Garcia, Mike Phillips, Clément Otazo, Benjamin Boyet, Thibault Lacroix, Sam Gerber, Lionel Mazars, Thibault Lacroix, Marvin O'Connor, Joe Rokocoko, Cédric Heymans.
Toulon squad: Steffon Armitage, Bakkies Botha, Sébastien Bruno, Kristian Chesney, Laurent Emmanuelli, Pierrick Gunther, Carl Hayman, Davit Kubriashvili, Eifion Lewis-Roberts, Christophe Samson, Dean Schofield, Leonardo Senatore, Simon Shaw, Jone Tawake, Joe van Niekerk, Mathieu Bastareaud, Fabien Cibray, Matt Giteau, Matt Henjak, Benjamin Lapeyre, Christian Loamanu, Gabriele Lovobalavu, Geoffroy Messina, David Smith, Jonny Wilkinson.
Toulouse vs Bayonne at Stade Ernest Wallon
Referee: Laurent Cardona
Assistant referees: Sébastien Minery, Sébastien Hebert
Television match official: Bruno Bessot
Montpellier vs Racing-Métro at Stade Yves du Manoir (Montpellier)
Referee: Pascal Gauzere
Assistant referees: Akim Hadj Bachir, Didier Dussaut
Television match official: Laurent Valin
Castres vs Perpignan at Stade Pierre Antoine
Referee: Frank Maciello
Assistant referees: Christophe Berdos, Régis Gabard
Television match official: Gérard Borreani
Bordeaux vs Stade Français at Jacques Chaban-Delmas (Bordeaux)
Referee: Cyril Lafon
Assistant referees: Stéphane Boyer, Jean-Michel Schutz
Television match official: Daniel Gillet
Agen vs Brive at Stade Armandie
Referee: Cédric Marchat
Assistant referees: Nicolas Datas, Benoît Escoubet
Television match official: Jean-Pierre Pellaprat
Lyon vs Clermont at Matmut Stadium
Referee: Salem Attalah
Assistant referees: Christophe Labaune, Bruno Fiche
Television match official: Philippe Bonhoure
Biarritz vs Toulon at Parc Des Sports D'Aguilera
Referee: Jérôme Garces
Assistant referees: Jérôme Lamirand, Patrick Beuriot
Television match official: Jean-Marie Piraveau
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