Clermont and Tigers gunning for Euro glory
December 9, 2011
Toby Flood landed 15 points to help Leicester defeat Ulster © Getty Images
Leicester Tigers will enter the intimidating Stade Marcel Michelin on Sunday looking to take a strangle-hold on Pool four with a victory over closest rivals Clermont Auvergne.
In contrast to their struggles in the Aviva Premiership, Leicester lead Pool four by two points from Clermont after consecutive victories over Ulster and Aironi. Though, it has not been straight forward for the Tigers. They failed to gain the try bonus point in defeating Aironi and then required a second-half try from Matt Smith to dispose of Ulster.
However, four victories from four in all competitions, including a tight win over Northampton Saints in the Premiership last weekend, suggest they are finding their form in time.
Clermont, who are currently second in the Top 14, slipped to a 16-11 defeat to Ulster in Belfast but responded with a 54-3 demolition of Aironi at home.
Clermont Auvergne - Player to Watch: Sitiveni Sivivatu lines up for Clermont for the first time in the Heineken Cup and it will be fascinating to see whether the former All Blacks speedster can light up the European stage.
Clermont Auvergne - Team News: Lee Byrne is partnered by Sivivatu and Julien Malzieu in the back three with Aurelien Rougerie and Wesley Fofana in the centres. Brock James and Morgan Parra take the half-back spots. Lionel Faure, Benjamin Kayser, and Davit Zirakashvili form the front-row with Julien Pierre and Nathan Hines in the locks. Gerhard Vosloo, Alexandre Lapandry and Julien Bonnaire start in the back-row.
Leicester Tigers - Player to Watch: Manu Tuilagi is back for the Tigers and starting at inside centre. The England international is one of the most potent attacking weapons in world rugby despite his tender years but he will need to prove he can perform in tough environments like Clermont's home ground.
Leicester Tigers - Team News:Manu Tuilagi and Tom Croft return from injury to take a place in the Leicester Tigers team. Croft joins Julian Salvi and Thomas Waldrom in the back row, while Tuilagi is named alongside Matt Smith at centre. Toby Flood and Ben Youngs form the half-backs. The only other change to the starting line-up line-up sees Martin Castrogiovanni named at tighthead prop, with Dan Cole among the replacements. Steve Mafi and Billy Twelvetrees, who both started the Premiership Rugby win over Northampton, are also among the replacements.
Key Battle: Two of the world's best young scrum-halves come face-to-face on Sunday with Ben Youngs up against Morgan Parra. If either half-back gets the edge over their counterpart then expect that side to prevail.
Trivia: Clermont Auvergne have won their last nine Heineken Cup matches at home
Stats:The two sides have met each other four times before with Leicester winning three
"The Tigers are tough opponents and you have to pay special attention to those parts of their game, and your game, to stand a chance and be competitive against them. They will be looking for a quarter-final place and to progress even further than that but we have ambitions of our own in the Heineken Cup. We are still in the hunt but know how important the next couple of rounds are."
"They have lots of world-class players in the squad. Other sides have 15 of them. They have 35."
Prediction: Clermont will come away with a bonus-point win
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