Toulon v Leinster

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

RC Toulonnais v Leinster Rugby | Sunday 13 December | Stade Mayol | 17:15


Having lost their European Rugby Champions Cup opener to Wasps, Toulon will be desperate to claim a bonus point victory here. The "Galaticos's" of world rugby currently occupy last spot on the Pool 5 log but know a win could see them jump up to second position on the table. Standing in their way of accomplishing this is a Leinster side that has struggled to live up to their billing. The Irish giants situation is even more dire than that of their opponents - they have played two matches and only have a solitary point to their names.


With both sides in desperate need of a win expect to see a hard-fought affair at the Stade Mayol this Sunday.

To win Match (80 Mins)
Toulon 1/8
Draw 35/1
Leinster 47/10
Handicaps
Toulon (-18.5) 9/10
Leinster (+18.5) 9/10
*Please note these are the expected handicaps. 

Toulon
I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Toulon's changing room looks more like a mad scientist's laboratory than an actual rugby facility. The French side have personified 'The Curious tale of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' so far this season - when they're good they're really good and when they're bad they're horrid. Unlike Doctor Jekyll though, it looks like Toulon may have found a long-term antidote for their affliction.

One of the most consistent performers in world rugby, Ma'a Nonu, is set to make his run-on debut for the club this weekend. The big man's calming presence in the midfield is exactly what this Toulon side has been crying out for. He will join Mathieu Basteraud in a midfield pairing that weighs in at a staggering 226 Kilograms.

Elsewhere in the backline, Bernard Laporte has opted to field Matt Giteau at 10. The veteran Aussie slotted into the role seamlessly against Clermont a few weeks ago. He may not be as flash as Quade Cooper, but he does offer the consistency that Toulon crave.

With a backline that contains some of the most skilled players in world rugby, Toulon are likely to attack from all quarters. If things click, then Leinster are going to be in for an afternoon of tackling.



Leinster
Is Irish rugby suffering from a bit of a hungover? After a great start to 2015, the national team bowed out of the World Cup with a whimper and now the two biggest club sides in the Emerald Isle are at risk exiting the European Champions Cup at the group stage.

Leinster have looked a nothing like the all-conquering side many were touting them to be. The two games they've played in the tournament thus far have ended in defeat. While you can excuse the loss to Wasps; who were in splendid form during the early weeks of the tournament. The loss to Bath would have been harder to swallow than a glass full of nails.

The two defeats have left the 'Boys in Blue' in a perilous position. The Irish side are only a solitary point above Toulon - who currently sit at the foot of the table - and have played an extra game. A defeat here could spell the end of their European hopes for 2015.

So how do Leinster turn their season around? They've got to win this game. There are no ifs or buts about it. A loss here would see them drop to last place in the pool with only three games remaining.

If they are to get a much-needed victory their centre pairing of Ben Te'o and Luke Fitzgerald are going to have to defend like Trojans. The duo are both physical players who relish a tackle but with a 226 Kg midfield running at their channels for 80 minutes, they may end up rueing the day they decided to become centres.

With Duane Vermeulen, Steffon Armitage and Mamuka Gorgodze turning out for Toulon, Leinster's loose trio are also going to have their work cut out for them. Jamie Heaslip will be the man tasked with trying to keep the opposition trio quite at ruck time. While the Irish flanker is a fantastic player, I don't think he'll be able to contain one of the fiercest looking back rows in world rugby.

The only facet of the game in where I could see Leinster getting any ascendancy is the scrum. With all the money Toulon have, you would expect them to have a better prop than Matt Stevens. The former England International scrummaging frailties were found out a Currie Cup level this year. And with Cian Healy packing down against him, he may well wish he had stayed in South Africa.

Verdict: Toulon (-18.5) 9/10 *Please note this is the expected handicap 
Leinster have really struggled this season and I think they may well be in for a hiding this weekend. Back Toulon to clear any margin that's thrown in front of them.
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