Bordeaux-Bègles v Clermont preview
Both sides can give themselves a chance of progression with a win
Clermont have recalled David Strettle to their side as they look to move top of Pool 2 in the Champions Cup with victory at Bordeaux-Bègles.
The teams tied 26-26 the last time they faced off
Last season’s beaten finalists Clermont can take control of their own destiny when they travel to Bordeaux-Begles on Friday in a European Champions Cup match rearranged due to November’s Paris terror attacks.
Clermont trail Ospreys by two points after sharing the honours in their back-to-back Pool 2 clashes against Exeter Chiefs.
A victory at fellow Top 14 outfit Bordeaux would see them leap above the Welsh region into top spot, a crucial advantage with a trip to Swansea to come a week later.
Clermont’s back three features Noa Nakaitaci alongside England’s David Strettle and Nick Abendanon, with Jonathan Davies joining Wesley Fofana in the centres.
Camille Lopez links up with scrum-half Morgan Parra, and Damien Chouly captains the side from the base of the scrum.
However, a win for Bordeaux Begles over Clermont on Friday night will move them into second place in the group if they manage a convincing victory over their Top 14 rivals.
Raphael Ibanez’s side have won six of their seven matches in all competitions at Stade Jacques Chaban-Delmas this season, and earned a bonus point in their narrow loss to domestic leaders Racing 92.
The two sides have met once so far this season, in a game that ended in a 26-26 draw at Stade Marcel-Michelin. Since then Bordeaux Begles have beaten Toulouse and the Ospreys, and could cut the gap to two points between all four teams in Pool 2 of the Champions Cup with victory over last season’s losing finalists.
Bordeaux Begles have rediscovered their attacking form after a turbulent start to the season, scoring 20 tries in their last seven outings. Wallaby Adam Ashley-Cooper has added extra edge to their attack, while countryman Sekope Kepu has provided steady feet to their scrum.
Number eight Matthew Clarkin skippers the side, while Louis Madaule and Luke Braid complete the back-row. Heini Adams partners Lionel Beauxis in the half-backs, and Felix le Bourhis pairs up with Romain Lonca in the midfield.
Bordeaux-Bègles: 15 Darly Domvo, 14 Metuisela Talebulamaijaina, 13 Felix Le Bourhis, 12 Romain Lonca, 11 Jean-Baptiste Dubié, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Heini Adams, 8 Matthew Clarkin, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Louis Madaule, 5 Adam Jaulhac, 4 Berend Botha, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Clement Maynadier, 1 Jefferson Poirot.
Replacements: 16 Ronan Chambord, 17 Jean-Baptiste Poux, 18 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 19 Julien Le Devedec, 20 Marco Tauleigne, 21 Yann Lesgourgues, 22 Pierre Bernard, 23 Nans Ducuing.
Clermont: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 David Strettle, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Noa Nakaitaci, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Alexandre Lapandry, 6 Vito Kolelishvili, 5 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 4 Paul Jedrasiak, 3 Daniel Kotze, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: 16 Benjamin Kayser, 17 Raphael Chaume, 18 Vincent Debaty, 19 Loic Jacquet, 20 Fritz Lee, 21 Ludovic Radoslavjevic, 22 Pato Fernandez, 23 Aurélien Rougerie.
Date: Friday, January 8
Venue: Stade Chaban Delmas
Kick-off: 20:45 local (19:45 GMT)
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Leo Colgan (Ireland), Paul Haycock (Ireland)
TMO: Seamus Flannery (Ireland)