Leicester to make it difficult for Toulon
Kicking duel between Wilkinson and Flood on the cards
Leicester's Tom Croft showing a return to the form of 2009
Date: 7 April, 2013
Time: 4:30 PM
Venue: Stade Felix Mayol
The rampaging form of Leicester makes the millions of euro poured into creating a culture of galacticos at Toulon largely irrelevant tomorrow. The Tigers’ relentless carrying game, humming around Ben Youngs, humiliated their ancient rivals Northampton last week. At Franklin’s Garden no less.
Yes, Toulon are an amazing collection of world class players, but many are ageing, so it is hard to know how long Andrew Sheridan, Carl Hayman and Bakkies Botha can remain the destructive forces of yesteryear.
Leicester are more a sum of the parts team nowadays but in Tom Croft they have a lightning quick loose forward returning to his 2009 Lions form while Geoff Parling and Dan Cole have also been in superb form of late. The scrums will provide shuddering collisions, testing Irish referee George Clancy’s knowledge to the limit, but hopefully confusion doesn’t reign. You can be sure Lions coach Warren Gatland will be watching Sheridan against Cole.
And don’t dare miss the gripping subplot that will be Mathieu Bastareaud versus Manu Tuilagi (Part II) in midfield. There’s a little Irish cameo here too, in Leicester’s in form right wing Niall Morris, but this game looks set to descend into a kicking duel between Jonny Wilkinson and his former understudy at Newcastle, Toby Flood.
In a game of inches, Wilkinson and the Toulon bench, which includes Gethin Jenkins and Joe van Niekerk, can shade it.