Wasps fight for euro lifeline
January 21, 2011
Captain Thierry Dusautoir led Toulouse past the Dragons last weekend and will have his eye on a clean sweep in the pool stages © Getty Images
London Wasps will be fighting for their Heineken Cup lives when they play host to Toulouse at Adams Park on Sunday.
Toulouse are already quarter-final bound thanks to five successive victories but Pool 6 rivals Wasps remain in the hunt for one of the two best runners-up berths and need a big win to boost their chances of progressing to the last eight.
The home side's quest for the knock out stages took a blow when they were well-beaten by Glasgow last weekend while defending champions Toulouse continued their impressive campaign with a hard-fought win against the win-less Dragons.
Toulouse are riding an 11-game winning streak in Europe dating back to a pool defeat against Cardiff Blues in 2009 and will be keen to cement their top seeding with another strong showing.
Wasps - Player to Watch: Scrum-half Joe Simpson looked electric at times last weekend and could yet force himself into the England equation having been called up to the EPS squad earlier this month.
Wasps - Team News: Dom Waldouck is drafted in at inside centre with Riki Flutey dropping to the bench while Richard Birkett comes into the second row to partner veteran Simon Shaw with James Cannon starting the game on the bench.
Toulouse - Player to Watch: Winger Vincent Clerc was amongst the tries last weekend and has since returned to the France squad. Full of confidence, he is likely to feature strongly.
Toulouse - Team News: In a re-jigged line-up, Clement Poitrenaud is back in the No.15 shirt, Yannick Jauzion lines up at inside centre alongside Florian Fritz with Maxime Medard named on the left wing. Jean Marc Doussain gets the nod at scrum-half and will partner David Skrela. Louis Picamoles and Yannick Nyanga are drafted in at No.8 and blindside respectively and Yoann Maestri comes into the second row. And a new-look front row features Wylie Human at loose-head and Williams Servat at hooker.
Key Battle: The boot dominated their clash in Toulouse in October where a crucial late miss from Wasps' Dave Walder saw the David Skrela-led hosts escape with a win. With so much on the line expect the kicking tee to play a central role once again.
Trivia: Toulouse are chasing a clean sweep of six victories in the pool stages but no side achieving that feat has gone on to win the trophy or even qualify for the final.
Stats: Toulouse squeezed home 18-16 when the two sides met for the first time earlier in the season.
"Obviously we can't catch Toulouse but then all the Amlin permutations and everything else will come into play. But forget all that - this is about fronting up and playing well at home against Toulouse." - Wasps boss Tony Hanks talks up the Adams Park clash.
"We have qualified [for the quarter-finals] but the manner in which we did was not good. We expected much better." - Toulouse coach Guy Noves demands improvement on last weekend's performance.
Prediction: Toulouse's ability to ring the changes and still field an exceptionally strong side continues to astound but a settled Wasps side and the desperate nature of their plight could propel the hosts to a narrow win.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Kiwi coaches can be found far and wide across the globe, and Murray Mexted believes the All Blacks benefit every bit as much as their rivals
Clermont, Toulon, player burnout, Sam Burgess and a farewell to Adams Park - Monday Maul looks back at the weekend's action
The latest Week in Pictures takes in some original ways of welcoming teams to the field and plenty of tries from the European Champions Cup
Abacus, mittens, shock buzzer, back pats ... Greg Growden delivers his 2014 Christmas presents for Australian rugby; who gets the bomb?