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Top 14 Round 26: Preview
Play-off positions set to be decided
The Top 14 regular season comes to a climax this Saturday with the order of the play-off positions still to be confirmed.
Toulouse and Clermont have guaranteed a home semi-final, however Toulon, Montpellier, Castres and Racing Metro are all jockeying for positions in the remaining play-off spots - with Stade Francais only having a mathematical chance of breaking into the top six.
At the bottom, Brive are all but relegated - with only a remarkable result against Clermont and a collapse from Bayonne set to save them.
Toulouse will look to address their recent slump when they face .
Toulouse, who can claim top spot with victory, has lost six of their last nine games - however Montpellier have hit form at just the right time after a sticky start to the campaign.
Toulouse now have four hookers on their injury list after Georgian Jaba Bregvadze's season was ended prematurely be a neck injury, however Romain Millo-Chluski and Gurthro Steenkamp are fit to play though and should start.
Montpellier will be without injured skipper Fulgence Ouedraogo.
Brive face mission impossible at Clermontwhen they go hunting for the bonus point win they need to stand a chance of avoiding the drop.
Clermont haven't lost at the Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin in three years, though, while Brive have averaged just one try per game this season - so it seems unlikely the club will claim the points they are after.
After resting most of the first-choice team for the defeat to Castres, Clermont will recall their star names as they prepare for the semi-finals, with France international prop Thomas Domingo among those set to play.
Bayonne can't put the relegation debate, though, by collecting at least a point from their trip to Castres.
However the hosts have their sights set on a home play-off quarter-final, with Romain Teulet target the prize of the league's top points scorer.
Like Brive, Stade Francais are chasing an unlikely bonus point win - with the Parisians needing to thump Biarritz at the Parc des Sports d'Aguilera and for Agen to topple Racing Metro.
That scenario seems unthinkable considering Stade's away form this year. They have also lost on their last two visits to Biarritz.
French rugby's most-capped prop, Sylvain Marconnet (84 Tests), will play his last Top 14 game this weekend, against his former club.
Biarritz have lost Benoit Baby for the last two fixtures this season including next weekend's Amlin Challenge Cup final.
Racing Metro need to a point to secure their play-off berth when they face Agen.
Pierre Berbizier's team have shaken off their behind-the-scenes troubles to return to their best form at just the right time and will be looking to profit from the fact that Agen have nothing left to play for. The hosts have lost five of their last six games.
Racing centre, Fabrice Estebanez was rested in training this week after picking up a knock in the win over Stade Français last weekend but will travel.
Centre Henry Chavancy and lock Jone Qovu have, however, been left at home.
Toulon will want to send a message to their play-off rivals with a big win over already-relegated Lyon.
Toulon welcome back Joe El Abd and Dean Schofield while Steffon Armitage and Joe Van Niekerk have been rested.
There is a dead rubber when Bordeaux-Begles and Perpignan clash in a game that has no bearing on the key positions.
Perpignan will be without France hooker Guihem Guirado, who has been suspended following his red card for a dangerous tackle against Lyon last week. The visitors have also named a handful of youngsters in their squad.
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|Friday 22nd August|
|18:45||Toulouse vs Castres|
|Saturday 23rd August|
|12:45||Brive vs Clermont Auvergne|
|16:30||Bayonne vs Oyonnax|
|16:30||Bordeaux-Begles vs Racing Metro Paris|
|16:30||Montpellier vs Grenoble|
|16:30||Toulon vs La Rochelle|
|18:45||Stade Francais vs Lyon|
|Friday 29th August|
|18:45||Clermont Auvergne vs Montpellier|
|Saturday 30th August|
|12:45||La Rochelle vs Toulouse|
|16:30||Castres vs Bay Of Plenty|
|16:30||Grenoble vs Bordeaux-Begles|
|16:30||Oyonnax vs Stade Francais|
|16:30||Lyon vs Brive|
|18:45||Racing Metro Paris vs Toulon|
|Friday 5th September|
|18:45||Montpellier vs Castres|
|Saturday 6th September|
|12:45||Brive vs Toulouse|
|15:00||Clermont Auvergne vs Racing Metro Paris|
|16:30||Stade Francais vs Bayonne|
|16:30||Grenoble vs La Rochelle|
|16:30||Lyon vs Oyonnax|
|18:45||Toulon vs Bordeaux-Begles|
|Saturday 13th September|
|16:00||Toulouse vs Clermont Auvergne|
|16:00||Bayonne vs Brive|
|16:00||Bordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier|
|16:00||Oyonnax vs Grenoble|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com