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Sandy Park will witness a European first on Saturday afternoon (15:30 UK and Irish time) as Exeter Chiefs and four-time European champions Toulouse meet in Heineken Champions Cup action for the very first time.
Toulouse have enjoyed a seven-game winning streak in the competition, but Exeter have won five of their last six games against TOP 14 opposition, including their last three in a row.
The tie will be broadcast on BT Sport, FR 2 and beIN SPORTS.
Exeter: 1st, Pool 2, 27 points
Toulouse: 1st, Pool 5, 27 points
Exeter 38 Northampton 15
Toulouse 36 Ulster 8
First meeting in European competition.
Leading 2019-20 points–scorers
Exeter: Joe Simmonds 71, Sam Simmonds 30, Jacques Vermeulen 15
Toulouse: Thomas Ramos 77, Romain Ntamack 28, Pita Ahki 15
- Exeter have made one change to the starting line-up with Sam Skinner coming in for Jacques Vermeulen, while on the bench Dave Dennis and Don Armand are included with Jannes Kirsten the man to make way.
- Toulouse name the same backline that were so impressive against Ulster last week, with Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack maintaining the half-back partnership.
"For this squad, who are still very young, to reach another semi is really satisfying.”
Ugo Mola knows there's plenty more to come from his youthful @StadeToulousain side… 🤩
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) September 23, 2020
- Rob Baxter (Exeter): “It’s important that we get ourselves mentally and physically right. We know it will be tough, but equally we’re at home and we won’t have to worry about things like travel.”
- Ugo Mola (Toulouse): “It’s a second semi-final in a row and to be able to play a leading role in Europe, you have to qualify regularly. That’s the case with this squad, but we have to be more precise.”
- Exeter and Toulouse will go head-to-head for the first time in European competition on Saturday. The Chiefs will be the 12th different Gallagher Premiership club that Toulouse have faced in the Heineken Champions Cup, and no other team has faced more English clubs (Leinster and Cardiff Blues also 12).
- Exeter have qualified for a Heineken Champions Cup semi-final for the first time, while Toulouse have reached this stage for the 12th time – only Munster (14) have reached the last four on more occasions.
- Toulouse have won their last seven games in the Heineken Champions Cup, the fifth time they’ve enjoyed a winning run of that length, however, they have only won more than seven games in a row once before – an 11-game streak that spanned the 2009/10 and 2010/11 campaigns.
- Exeter are unbeaten in their seven games this season, and before this run they had never managed more than two matches without defeat.
- Exeter have won five of their last six games against TOP 14 opposition, including their last three in a row. Toulouse have won their last six on the bounce against Premiership clubs.
- Exeter have conceded 10.6 turnovers per game on average this season, fewer than any other side, while only Connacht and Harlequins (both 15.7) have conceded more than Toulouse (15.6).
- Toulouse have made 481 metres per game on average this season, more than any other side, while they also top the charts for offloads, averaging 12.3 per game.
- Toulouse’s Thomas Ramos has landed 31 successful place kicks this season, more than any other player and one more than Exeter’s Joe Simmonds, who has the best goalkicking success rate of any player to attempt more than five kicks. (94%, 30/32).
- Exeter’s Jonny Gray completed 18/18 tackles in the Chiefs’ victory over Northampton Saints, and no other player made more without missing one in the quarter-finals. Including his appearances this season for Glasgow Warriors, Gray has averaged 19.8 tackles per game, the most of any player to feature more than twice in 2019/20.
- Ramos made 125 metres in Toulouse’s quarter-final victory against Ulster, the most of any player last weekend, while teammate Antoine Dupont recorded the second highest total (106m).
Match Centre - Preview - Lineups
Exeter Chiefs put in a power-packed display to defeat Toulouse 28-18 at Sandy Park on Saturday and reach a first Heineken Champions Cup final in the club’s history.
Two tries in each half – including a brace from Harry Williams – proved crucial for Exeter who were clinical from close range throughout a titanic semi-final tussle.
Toulouse made a bright start and were the only side to trouble the scoresheet for the opening half hour, with Thomas Ramos making the most of Exeter’s misdemeanours at the breakdown and giving the visitors a six point lead.
Exeter would soon respond in typical Chiefs fashion as Tom O’Flaherty picked a gap to take them within two metres of the line.
That allowed a string of powerful forward phases before Harry Williams managed to burrow a way over the line with the ball in hand.
Joe Simmonds! That is special! ⚡️
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) September 26, 2020
Toulouse wing Cheslin Kolbe soon helped them hit back with a breakaway down the right wing, putting Exeter on the back foot. Toulouse took full advantage by spreading play back along to the left wing and into the open space for Alban Placines to sprint down the touchline and dive over in the corner.
Exeter managed a grab a crucial score just before the break to put them back ahead. Although they didn’t strike immediately, Sam Simmonds was soon able to wriggle over the line and dot down in dogged fashion, with the Simmonds conversion putting the English side 14-11 up at the break.
The Chiefs also managed to get the first try of the second period, with Williams grabbing his second and Exeter’s third of the afternoon after a huge amount of powerful phases from the hosts.
Your 2019/20 #HeinekenChampionsCup finalists 🤩
Who are you tipping to lift the trophy? 🏆 pic.twitter.com/zW1nHMczDi
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) September 26, 2020
They then grabbed a fourth try and secured their spot in next month’s Heineken Champions Cup final as O’Flaherty again made a break through the line and as the ball came back into the centre, Joe Simmonds sold a sumptuous dummy before ringing around the Toulouse defenders and sprinting clear at the posts.
Toulouse would record a consolation try with four minutes to play as Pita Ahki headed for the corner before flipping the ball inside to Matthis Lebel who scored close to the posts.
But it was Exeter Chiefs who secured victory and will face Racing 92 in next month’s Heineken Champions Cup final at Ashton Gate in Bristol.