Top 14 2012/2013 Predictions: Round 8

An injury time penalty from Benjamin Boyet secured Bayonne a 15-16 Basque derby win over Biarritz last Friday night as Bayonne edged out of the relegation zone.

It had been a difficult week for Bayonne leading into what was essentially a cup final for both teams in terms of the table, and purely for local bragging rights. Mike Phillips was charged for taking the moral high ground by protesting his side’s poor form with blind drunkenness. Thankfully there were no dwarfs or golf buggies in sight but Cedric Heymans took things too far by openly criticising his side’s poor performances in public.

For a fixture that can sometimes boil over there was remarkably only one yellow card to Joe Rokocoko for a dangerous tackle. The lead changed  hands several times in the closing stages of the match, but the final page of part 1 to the Basque story was written by the 30-metre injury time penalty from Benjamin Boyet after Biarritz pulled down a maul. There was, fortunately, no fists of fury cameo role for Imanol Harinordoquy’s Dad, but rest assured, plenty of baguettes will be broken and wine glasses smashed in anger in the red and white side of the Basque country.

Elsewhere, Toulon suffered their first defeat of the season away to Toulouse. It was a fairly comprehensive victory for Toulouse, but Toulon will hardly cavil over the result. Bernard Laporte selected a pick n mix side, clearly picking this one as a fight not worth fighting. This attitude could not be better illustrated than by Luke McAlister’s first half try that meet less resistance than Europe meet on the final day of the Ryder cup from America. Although, credit must go to Bernard Laporte for revealing, after all these years, that Nick Kennedy’s strongest position is as a scavenging openside.

If last weekend’s other results proved anything, it is that this Top 14 season could be the tightest one yet. Outside of Mont-de-Marsan, the make-up of the final standings is far from a given.  Clermont snuck passed Stade at home, Grenoble beat Racing, Montpellier beat Castres and Agen beat Bordeaux. Such inconsistency across the league has already ruined my chances of a Superbru league predictions win.

The two fixtures this week to warm up any unlikely South Western French Autumn nip take place at the Stade Pierre Antoine, where Castres host the far from convincing table toppers Clermont and the Stade Aguilera where Biarritz welcome Toulon.

My Superbru picks round 8

Castres v Clermont. Clermont by 2
Biarritz v Toulon. Toulon by 5
Bayonne v Agen. Bayonne by 4
Grenoble v Perpignan. Grenoble by 6
Racing v Montpellier. Racing by 5
Mont-de-Marsan v Stade. Stade by 7
Bordeaux Begles v Toulouse. Toulouse by 15

by Mike Dolan @michaeldolan18