Toulouse out to feast on Dragons
October 14, 2010
Jean Bouilhou returns for Toulouse © Getty Images
Toulouse trade the wide open spaces of the Stade Municipal for the gritty surroundings of Rodney Parade on Saturday, travelling to face the Dragons in round two of the Heineken Cup.
The visitors scraped home against Wasps last weekend thanks to Dave Walder's late penalty miss and while the weather was prohibitive to their natural exuberance on that occasion, they will want to ratchet up the intensity this time around.
For the champions, the Dragons, while a tough proposition at home, represent the chance for a brace of bonus-point wins and Guy Noves will expect nothing less.
Dragons - Player to Watch: Ashley Smith will skipper the home side while playing out-of-position at fly-half. A big load on the 23-year-old's shoulders, but he's got plenty of potential.
Dragons - Team News: Tom Riley and Tom Cheeseman start outside Smith in midfield, while Wales flanker Gavin Thomas is named alongside Dan Lydiate and Andrew Coombs in the back-row.
Toulouse - Player to Watch: Jean Bouilhou comes into the back-row - a master of the lineout and one of the finest footballing flankers in Europe, he will be key to keeping Toulouse on an even keel.
Toulouse - Team News: It's testament to the strength that Toulouse possess that a much-changed team is not a weakened selection. Maxime Medard comes in for Clement Poitrenaud at fullback, Louis Picamoles replaces Shaun Sowerby at No.8 and Vilimoni Delasau steps in for Vincent Clerc on the wing.
Key Battle: Slow and steady won the race for Toulouse last weekend and it was David Skrela who dragged them over the line. The fly-half needs to dish out a lesson to Smith.
Trivia: Toulouse's biggest win in the Heineken Cup came against Welsh opposition - they put 108 points on Ebbw Vale in 1998. That win also remains the highest score in the tournament.
Stats: Last weekend's loss to Glasgow continued the Dragons' worst streak of away results in Europe - which now stands at eight consecutive losses.
Quote Unquote: "We'll hit them with everything we've got. Every player wants to play rugby at the highest level they can and far from being daunted by this match we are seeing it as a great opportunity for us to prove ourselves as individuals and as a team." - Dragons boss Paul Turner
"I think that we proved that being patient paid off against a Wasps side who deserved to win as much as we did. Our calmness in the last 15 minutes permitted us to get back and score three precious points, whereas Wasps had the same opportunity but were not able to capitalise on it." - Toulouse boss Guy Noves praises his side's clinical streak
Prediction: As much as the Dragons' attitude makes you root for them, Toulouse have too much class, pace and power. A comfortable away win.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"I had a couple of injuries before but this was different." Tom Hamilton talks to Scott Williams about the O'Driscoll tackle, Wales and Scarlets
"To be the best it's not about the flash stuff, it's actually about everything done at a very high level." Tom Hamilton on the England squad
Huw Richards rewinds to 1864 to mark the birth of Welsh rugby's first authentic star - Arthur Gould
Michael Cheika has succeeded in becoming the Wallabies coach under his own terms, writes Greg Growden