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Kingsholm Stadium is the location for the opening Heineken Champions Cup clash of the season as Gloucester Rugby take on four-time winners Toulouse on Friday night, live on BT Sport and beIN SPORTS from 19:45 GMT.
The Pool 5 encounter sees 2019 semi-finalists Toulouse return to Gloucester for the first time since 2012, when they were beaten 34-24 in a European Cup classic.
Johan Ackermann (Gloucester): “They are an in-form team, they just produced a number of French players for the World Cup and then, obviously, Cheslin Kolbe will be excellent. So it’s a great privilege for us, as Gloucester [Rugby], and especially on a Friday night – it will be a packed stadium and it will be a great atmosphere.“
Ugo Mola (Toulouse): “We’ve got a major history in this competition. Alongside Leinster [Rugby] we’re the competition’s most decorated club, although Saracens are rapidly making up ground on us. It’s in our interests to put our all into this competition, so that there are no regrets. At Stade Toulousain we’re keen to perform well or, indeed, very well in this competition.”
1️⃣ DAY TO GO ☝️
The road to #Marseille2020 begins tomorrow 🙌@TitiDusautoir knows a thing or two about playing in the #HeinekenChampionsCup 🏆
We caught up with the French legend as the competition prepares for lift-off ➡️ https://t.co/GZ9KVslKlL pic.twitter.com/qduryxsKIT
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) November 14, 2019
- Gloucester have won their opening game in five of their last six Heineken Champions Cup campaigns (L1), however, the one defeat in that run came at the hands of Toulouse in 2011/12.
- Toulouse have lost just two of their last 11 pool stage games in the Heineken Champions Cup (W8, D1), although both defeats in that run came away from home, against Wasps in 2016/17 and at Leinster last season.
- Gloucester have won each of their last six home games against TOP 14 opposition in the Heineken Champions Cup, their last such defeat coming in 2006/07 against Agen.
- Toulouse have won each of their last two away games against Premiership opposition, but they’ve never managed to win three consecutive away games against English clubs in the Heineken Champions Cup.
- Only Saracens (95%) recorded a better line out success rate in the Heineken Champions Cup last season than Toulouse (92%), while Gloucester recorded the lowest rate (75%).
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The Heineken Champions Cup returned with a bang on Friday night as Toulouse turned around a 20-9 half-time deficit to eventually defeat Gloucester Rugby 25-20 at Kingsholm Stadium.
Gloucester raced into the lead after a brace of tries from scrum-half Joe Simpson but Toulouse were able to hit back in emphatic fashion with a string of successful kicks from full-back Thomas Ramos and centre Romain Ntamack as well as a try from scrum-half Sebastien Bezy.
The French side took the lead in the Pool 5 match after just two minutes through a drop goal from fly-half Zack Holmes, who was replaced at the interval.
However, Toulouse would be caught out twice in quick succession conceding turnover ball, reaching Simpson on both occasions and he made no mistake, darting clear and evading tackles to put Gloucester 14-3 ahead after 20 minutes, with fly-half Danny Cipriani converting both.
The sides exchanged two penalty kicks before the interval to leave Gloucester 20-9 up at the break, but that was as good as it got for the English side.
Joe Simpson has lightning in his boots 🔥
Tonight wasn't their night but he will be a big player for @gloucesterrugby this season… pic.twitter.com/J4gogMRae1
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) November 15, 2019
Toulouse responded terrifically in the second period, chipping away at the lead with further penalty kicks from Ntamack and Ramos before scrum-half Bezy dealt the decisive blow.
The French side’s forwards did most of the damage, driving close to the try line before Bezy burrowed his way over at the posts, giving Ramos the easiest of conversions and pushing Toulouse ahead for just the second time.
It would stay that way as Ramos nudged Toulouse five ahead from the kicking tee with 12 minutes to play and despite a late Gloucester onslaught, the French side clung on for a crucial away success.
Gloucester travel to Montpellier for their Round 2 clash next week in Pool 5, while Toulouse will host Connacht Rugby.
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