Tigers and Toulouse go head to head while Toulon can do Irish sides a favour
It’s a photo finish to determine which is more intimidating – Toulon’s starting team or a bench that includes Gethin Jenkins, Carl Hayman, Mathieu Bastareaud, and Juan-Martin Fernandez Lobbe.
The visitors need a point to guarantee a home quarter-final and have sent out a strong team against Montpellier today. Leinster, Munster and all those chasing one of the two runner-up places that will qualify for the quarter-finals will be keeping fingers crossed for Toulon.
Montpellier know that a couple of points will send them through to the knock-out stage. They are without captain Fulgence Quedraogo and will be motivated to honour forwards’ coach Eric Bechu who died this week. Clermont are the only French team to have won a European game in Montpellier but that might change today.
In Ulster’s pool (four), Northampton will be hoping for a four-try victory at Glasgow Warriors today to put them on 19 points and give them an outside chance of claiming one of the two best runners-up places. They can not overtake Ulster at the top of the pool (19 points) because of an inferior head-to-head record.
The Saints have scored only six tries in the tournament so far and so will be chasing a bagful against a Glasgow side that shows 10 changes from last weekend. If conditions are reasonable then Northampton should manage their five point haul but that may only bring them a place in the Amlin Challenge Cup rather than a Heineken Cup quarter-final.
Tomorrow, Leicester Tigers and Toulouse meet at Welford Road and there are mathematical permutations that could see both teams qualify, but, realistically, the winner of this match will be in the box seat.
The Tigers are two points behind and have scored one try less than their visitors, but will relish the task. Irish man Niall Morris, a try scorer last week, continues on the right wing.
Four-time European champions Toulouse have offered an inkling of how they may play this game in the composition of their team. The big boot of Lionel Beauxis has been brought in at outhalf with Luke McAlister shifting to the centre.
Jean Marc Doussain is preferred to the more physically robust Luke Burgess at scrumhalf. Leicester will relish the challenge and seem well equipped to deal with it.
MONTPELLIER: P Berard; T Nagusa, T Combezou, S Fernandez, Y Audrin; F Trinh-Duc, B Paillaugue; M Nariashvili, A Creevy, M Bustos; M De Marco, M Gorgodze (capt); A Bias, J Beattie, A Tulou. Replacements: E Van Vuuren, Y Watremez, B Fa’amausili, A Fakate, T Privat, K Galletier, E Escande, L Amorosino.
TOULON: D Armitage; R Wulf, M Mermoz, M Giteau, A Palisson; J Wilkinson (capt), F Michalak; A Sheridan, M Ivaldi, D Kubriashvili; S Shaw, J Suta; P Gunther, S Armitage, C Masoe. Replacements: J Orioli, G Jenkins, C Hayman, N Kennedy, M Bastareaud, J Martin Fernandez Lobbe, V Martin, J van Niekerk.
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland).
Verdict: Toulon to win
GLASGOW WARRIORS: S Hogg; T Seymour, B McGuigan, G Morrison, S Maitland; R Jackson, N Matawalu; G Reid, P MacArthur, M Low; T Swinson, A Kellock (capt); J Strauss, J Eddie, R Wilson. Replacements: D Hall, R Grant, T Ryder, A Dunbar, S Kennedy, S Wight, P Horne.
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS: B Foden; J Wilson, G Pisi, D Waldouck, J Elliott; S Myler, L Dickson; S Tonga’uiha, D Hartley (capt), P Doran-Jones; S Manoa, C Lawes; C Clark, T Wood, P Dowson. Replacements: M Haywood, A Waller, T Mercey,
M Sorenson, R Oakley, M Roberts, R Lamb, T May.
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales).
Verdict: Northampton Saints to win.
LEICESTER TIGERS: M Tait; N Morris, M Tuilagi, A Allen, A Thompstone; T Flood, B Youngs; M Ayerza, T Youngs, D Cole; L Deacon (capt), G Parling; S Mafi, J Salvi, T Waldrom. Replacements: R Hawkins, L Mulipola, M Castrogiovanni, E Slater, J Crane, S Harrison, G Ford, M Smith.
TOULOUSE: C Poitrenaud; V Clerc, F Fritz, L McAlister, Y Huget; L Beauxis, JM Doussain; G Steenkamp, C Tolofua, C Johnston; Y Maestri, P Albacete; G Lamboley, T Dusautoir (capt), L Picamoles. Replacements: G Botha, V Kakovin, Y Montes, R Millo-Chluski, Y Nyanga, L Burgess, Y Jauzion, M Medard.
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland).
Verdict: Leicester Tigers to win.