Thursday 12 December 2019

French duel with no Euro edge as relegation rivals clash

European Watch

Jack Nowell got two tries for Exeter as they brushed Wasps aside last weekend at Sandy Park. Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Jack Nowell got two tries for Exeter as they brushed Wasps aside last weekend at Sandy Park. Dan Mullan/Getty Images

John Fallon

Connacht's two French opponents will have relegation rather than Europe on their minds when they clash tomorrow evening at Stade Deflandre in the Top 14.

Both La Rochelle and Bayonne are caught up in serious relegation trouble with La Rochelle in 12th spot on 19 points, just above the drop zone from Castres on points difference, with Lyon bottom just a point further back.

Bayonne are just two points clear of La Rochelle and could drop into the relegation zone if they lose tomorrow.

Hard to imagine then that either side will have paid much heed at this stage to the back-to-back December games in the Challenge Cup where Bayonne will go into battle with Connacht and La Rochelle will meet Exeter.

Exeter continue to improve with every week and last weekend brushed Wasps aside 31-15 at Sandy Park and are second to champions Northampton Saints with just two points between them.

Jack Nowell got two of their tries but they were unable to secure a bonus point with Thomas Waldrom getting their only other try, his seventh of the season, against a Wasps side who put 71 points on London Welsh last time out.

Surprisingly, Exeter were one of only two home sides - Newcastle over Gloucester was the other - to win at the weekend in the Premiership. The Chiefs will meet Saracens at Sandy Park tomorrow when they will bid to continue their winning run.

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