Leinster v Toulouse – The Big Match Preview With Matt Williams
We’ve reached the penultimate weekend of the Heineken Champions Cup, and the heat is on. Granted, it’s not like there hasn’t been fireworks along the way – but this is the point at which things really take off – and Sunday will see all eyes on Dublin for a meeting of the two most successful sides in the competition’s history.
Live on Virgin Media One from 2.30pm, the two sides to have each claimed the continental crown on four occasions will do battle, and Leinster v Toulouse has all the ingredients to be a barnburner. We could tell you who we fancy (Leinster abú, duh!), but we figured we’d be better off picking the brains of an expert – Virgin Media pundit – and former Leinster coach – Matt Williams…
These teams met twice during the pool stages – will that matter?
Yeah – and I think it will be in favour of Toulouse. They came to Dublin and made a lot of errors; they didn’t turn up, really. They had completely the wrong tactics in the RDS; they were mauling the ball, they thought they could out-muscle Leinster – and it didn’t work. Leinster took them apart. I just don’t think Toulouse will make the same mistakes this time.
They didn’t look it then, but their form since seems to suggest that this might be a vintage Toulouse side?
They’ve gone back to their traditional style, and it’s really good rugby, just wonderful to watch. Every weekend they’re trying to play that off-loading game; it’s high-risk, high-reward, but also very difficult to play against. I coached against it for years – you might miss three tackles in 40 minutes and still be three tries down! They’ve gone back to the things that Irish sides do; producing their own guys, and taking French players and making them better. They’ve shied away from buying ten superstars and looking short-term, instead taking the long-term route.
And what of Leinster? They’re not the team they were last year…
Even in that earlier game they were in very good form – but their form since the Six Nations has been different. Last time out against Ulster was a really tough game, but they weren’t nearly at their best. I think what we’ve seen with Leinster, is some of Ireland’s problems from the Six Nations coming back to provincial level.
OK, so how’s it going to go?
If Toulouse come and play like they’re at home, forcing Leinster to make errors – which they made against Ulster – they’ve got a shout. But if Leinster get two or three scores out, they could run away with it. Then again, as they showed in the quarter, Toulouse will hang in there – and travelling away won’t bother them too much either…
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