Toulouse rest Dupont, Ntamack for Top 14 clash against Toulon

Toulouse rest Dupont, Ntamack for Top 14 clash against Toulon

Toulouse rest Dupont, Ntamack for Top 14 clash against Toulon

Toulouse rest Dupont, Ntamack for Top 14 clash against Toulon

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Defending champions Toulouse head into this weekend’s Top 14 clash at Toulon without their French half-again stars Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack while the house side is shorn of World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe.

If that shows a slackening of depth on Saturday, nothing could be in addition to the fact as this game has been moved from Toulon’s Stade Mayol to a 60,000 promote-out Stade Velodrome in Marseille.

With simply 4 rounds left to play in the normal Top 14 season, at least 9 clubs, such as Toulouse and Toulon, nevertheless have realistic hopes of finishing inside the pinnacle six and going into the play-offs.

Others, such as Stade Francais and Pau who also meet on Saturday, are still eyeing a place in the top eight and a ticket to next season’s European Champions Cup.

“Nobody wants to give up in the Top 14,” said Stade Francais forwards coach Laurent Sempere.

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Toulouse head to Marseille in the relative comfort of the fifth spot but their opponents are just six points behind them in the ninth.

Toulouse coach Ugo Mola, however, has resisted the temptation to play his strongest team, insisting that Grand Slam heroes Dupont and Ntamack deserve and need a break.

“Honestly, I have no choice, it can’t be relentlessness,” he said before Toulouse’s European Cup last-16 win over Ulster in which both players played.

“I don’t want to take risks with their health.”

Baptiste Germain and Thomas Ramos will fill in.

Two other Grand Slam stars, prop Cyril Baille flanker Francois Cros, are out injured.

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Toulouse will also be without Argentine full-back Juan Cruz Mallia who was slapped with a four-week ban for a dangerous challenge on Ben Moxham in the first leg of the Ulster fixture.

Toulon are on a run of three straight wins in the Top 14 but will have to do without Kolbe in this ‘must-win’ game because of a broken thumb he sustained during the European Challenge Cup match against Treviso last weekend.

It would have been the South African winger’s first match against his old club following his acrimonious departure last summer.

– Top of table clash –

Montpellier coach Phillipe Saint-Andre turned 55 during the week and the former France boss will be hoping for a late birthday present on Sunday when his table-topping side host Bordeaux-Begles who are five points behind in second.

The leaders will have to do without France lock Paul Willemse who has been suspended after collecting three yellow cards.

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Fourth-placed Castres, unbeaten at home in the Top 14 this season, host Clermont who are just five points behind them in eighth but have won just once on the road, oddly at Montpellier.

Third-placed La Rochelle and Racing 92, in 6th, can improve their probabilities as they host struggling Perpignan and relegation-sure Biarritz respectively but seventh-located Lyon faces a hard journey to Brive.

Stade Francais, who are down in 11th, are unlikely to discern within the pinnacle six shake-ups however they still have targets of qualifying for the Champions Cup, making their ride to Pau, who’re just 4 factors beforehand of them in tenth, another ‘ought to win for each group.

 

 

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