Leinster v RC Toulon Preview

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

Leinster v RC Toulon | Saturday 19 December | Aviva Stadium | 19:10

Leinster's hopes of qualifying for the next round of the Champions Cup are fading faster than David Van Rooyen's  tenure as Finace Minster. The Irish giants currently occupy last spot on the Pool 5 log and while a win here would move them ahead of Toulon on the log, it may not be enough to keep them alive in the competition. While Toulon's sitaution is not as dire as that of their opponents, the French club will still be desperate to win this one.

With both teams searching for log points, this is certainly going to be a titanic clash.

To Win (80 Mins)
Leinster 18/10
Draw 21/1
Toulon 9/20
*To be added upon release

They may have gone down by 15 points last weekend, but it was still a much improved showing from a side that has really struggled this term. Having opened the scoring through Johhny Sexton, Leinster then doubled their lead when Sexton slotted his second penalty on the eight minute mark. Things started to unravel for Leo Cullen's charges from this point onwards though.

Minutes after Sextons penalty Toulon opted to negate a kickable penalty, of their own, and instead put the ball into touch. From the lineout, Samu Manoa rose to claim the ball and a well set maul was formed. The ball was shifted to the back where Steffon Armitage controlled. The England international would eventually crash over the line for the first try of the game. Sexton and Eric Escande traded penalties and the sides went into the halftime break with only a point between them. The second stanza saw Armitage cross the whitewash for his double and Escande kick another three penalties while Leinster only managed to score three points in the entire second half.

Leinster now find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. They have to attack in order to get a bonus point victory this weekend, but that falls right into Toulon attacking game plan. The French club will relish an open game and if it does shape up to be helter skelter affair, I seriously doubt Leinster will win it.

So how do Leinster approach this one? They have to target the Toulon scrum - especially if Matt Stevens starts. The former England international performance went according to the script I wrote last week; he gave away penalties and really had little effect on the game. Leinster will also need to maintain their discipline. When three of your forwards get sin binned, you have little chance of winning a game.

It may not have been a vintage performance from Toulon but they will still be happy to have claimed a vital four points. Having seen his side go into the shed only a point to the good, Bernard Laporte, would have probably cut a nervy figure. His worries would be washed away however, as his side put in a mature display in the second stanza.

The way his players controlled the final forty minutes would have probably pleased Laporte more than their recent domestic victory over Clermont. Matt Giteau played a key role in last week's victory. The veteran utility back must be in the running for Laureus comeback of the year. Not only did have a stellar 2015 for the Wallabies but he's pretty much been the key figure in getting Toulon's season back on track. Regardless of the quality that Toulon have in the flyhalf department, Giteau simply has to start as many games as possible in the number 10 jumper if Toulon are to reach the next round.

With Giteau at ten, Nonu at 12 and Basteraud - the big man has been better in recent weeks -at 13, Toulon have a midfield to cause any side in Europe massive strife.

Verdict: Toulon 9/20
I sense this Toulon side is about to click. If they do this weekend, then they may well be able to inflict a much larger defeat upon Leinster this time around. 

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