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Heineken Cup
Guy Noves expects close Heineken Cup final
ESPN Staff
April 30, 2013
Toulouse head coach Guy Noves, Harlequins v Toulouse, Heineken Cup, Twickenham Stoop, October 17, 2009
Guy Noves expects Clermont Auvergne and Toulon to push each other hard in the Heineken Cup final © Getty Images
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Guy Noves, the most successful coach in Heineken Cup history, has said that this year's final between Clermont Auvergne and Toulon is too close to call.

Clermont and Toulon will meet at Dublin's Aviva Stadium on May 18, the first time that either side has reached the final. In the semi-finals Clermont beat Munster 16-6, while Jonny Wilkinson kicked all Toulon's points as they defeated Saracens 24-12.

"I think it's 50-50," Noves told Midi-Olympique. "A few weeks ago I would have said Clermont for sure, but now I'd say it's 50-50 because Toulon showed some real determination, power and consistency.

"Both teams have excellent players. Clermont with [Napolioni] Nalaga, [Sitiveni] Sivivatu and [Wesley] Fofana have players who can produce a moment of magic. Toulon are less spectacular, but Wilkinson is very important for them and there are other players such as (Matt) Giteau who can take control of a match."

Noves has led Toulouse to a record four Heineken Cup wins, most recently in 2010, but this year he has had to look on as Clermont and Toulon have dominated the competition in Europe and at home in the Top 14.

Toulouse failed to progress beyond the Heineken Cup pool rounds and were then immediately knocked out of the Amlin Challenge Cup by Perpignan. Even so he feels no rancour towards two sides with two of the biggest budgets in France.

"Neither team is there by chance, they deserve their place in the final," he said. "They are two teams who are close to their peak. They are two ambitious teams and are set-up to be successful in Europe and they are reaping the fruits of their labours."

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