Dogfight for Rugby play-offs continues apace

3rd May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 3, 2007 (AFP) - The dogfight to secure a berth in the play-offs of the French rugby championship continues apace this weekend with Biarritz and Perpignan facing tough but crucial games against Stade Francais and Agen.

PARIS, May 3, 2007 (AFP) - The dogfight to secure a berth in the play-offs of the French rugby championship continues apace this weekend with Biarritz and Perpignan facing tough but crucial games against Stade Francais and Agen.

Any results for the top teams, however, are sure to have a telling effect on the relegation battle. The bottom seven teams in the Top 14 are staggeringly separated by only five points.

With four points on offer for a win, and a bonus point there for the taking for either a win by more than four tries or a loss by less than seven points, it could be a decisive weekend for a number of clubs with just three games left until the end of the regular season.

At the top of the table, there are three teams that have virtually assured their spot in the play-offs: Stade Francais (79 points), Clermont (74) and in-form Toulouse (72), on a run of four convincing wins.

All three sides are in good form, and the latter two will play second-bottom Brive and 10th-placed Bayonne confident of coming away with a win.

For the Parisians there is a tougher assignment: an away match against Biarritz, who currently lie in fourth spot on 66 points, one ahead of Perpignan who play Agen on Friday.

Biarritz scored a vital 23-15 win over Perpignan last weekend and will be looking to record another victory to put some space between them and the Catalans in the run-in to the semi-finals.

Perpignan captain Bernard Goutta said the loss to Biarritz had been a wake-up call for his team.

"We cannot lose a match by dominating it: we didn't play while Biarritz were strategically perfect," he said.

Agen, who also have to face Toulouse and Stade Francais, have not been helped by this week's sacking of coaching duo Didier Faugeron and Loic van der Linden, with a quartet of players having been handed control for the remainder of the season.

Agen president Daniel Dubroca was under no illusion of what was at stake, starting with Friday's away match.

"We have three games to save ourselves. We have to get four points to ensure we stay up without being reliant on others. That's the goal we've fixed for ourselves," said the former France hooker.

In other games, Bourgoin host bottom club Narbonne, Castres travel to Albi and Montauban entertain Montpellier, with all outcomes likely to have a nasty shake-out at the bottom of the Top 14 pile.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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