Pollard versus Beale duel steals Top14 headlines
TOP14, ROUND TWO: The Top14 season continues with yet another enticing match-up as Wallabies playmaker Kurtley Beale makes his home Racing 92 debut against Handre Pollard’s Montpellier.
The Wallabies star, who joined the French giants in June, made his Racing 92 debut with a 27-23 win over Lyon last weekend.
The prominent Australian Rugby figure made a noteworthy contribution and he will look to continue the trend when he faces Montpellier on Friday.
In terms of Montpellier, Pollard’s valiant effort – kicking 13 points – was not enough to secure a win for the Springbok’s side and they had to settle for 23-26 defeat to Pau.
The last time these two clubs met was in December 2019, where Racing 92 secured a win over Montpellier.
Elsewhere La Rochelle’s France No. 8 Gregory Alldritt said he is glad to have a busy early-season schedule which includes travelling to French Top 14 champions Toulouse on Saturday.
Alldritt’s side beat four-time championship winners Toulon in the opening round of the campaign last week and will face three of the last four league champions before mid-October.
“We have a really intense start to the season but it’s not that bad as we get right into the deep end straight away,” the 23-year-old said on Monday.
La Rochelle have signed Australia lock Will Skelton for the new term and Alldritt said the two-time European Cup and English Premiership winner will only be beneficial to the outfit who have never reached a Top 14 final.
“He’s an international quality player. That top-level experience, which he had with Saracens, you can see it,” Alldritt said.
“He tries to pass it on to us. I think he’ll become a very important player in the squad and will do us a lot of good.”
On Sunday, Toulouse were edged 33-30 at Clermont despite receiving two red cards and leading with less than 10 minutes to play.
“They haven’t lost anything in the way they play, they play a lot, they never give up,” Alldritt said.
“Even with 13 against 15, they never tightened up, they played like they know how to, and were very dangerous. We know what’s coming.”
Alldritt is expected to be called up to les Bleus’s squad for a busy calendar, which included ending the Six Nations and a newly-created Eight Nations competition, this autumn.
Fabien Galthie’s side can clinch the title for the first time in a decade if they beat Ireland on October 31 and other results go their way.
“There’s the tournament to go and take. If I’m selected, we’ll focus on the end of the Six Nations which is very important for us, then we’ll see for the matches which follow,” he said.
On Sunday, Stade Francais travel to Castres in their first game of the term after their season-opener was postponed due to a lack of healthy front-rowers who had contracted coronavirus.
Lyon will be without one-cap All Black centre Charlie Ngatai who is suffering from concussion as they head to Eben Etzebeth’s Toulon.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Pau v Agen (18.45)
Racing 92 v Montpellier (18.45)
Toulouse v La Rochelle (13.15)
Bordeaux-Begles v Brive (16.15)
Bayonne v Clermont (16.15)
Castres v Stade Francais (17.00)
Toulon v Lyon (19.00)