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First Challenge Cup clash for European giants

Thursday 24th September 2020

11:49 am (GMT)

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First Challenge Cup clash for European giants

RC Toulon's Anthony Belleau in European action

RC Toulon and Leicester Tigers will meet for the first time in the Challenge Cup when they clash in the semi-finals at Stade Félix Mayol on Saturday (20:00 UK and Irish time). 

Toulon are the only side with a 100% winning record in this season’s competition after topping Pool 2, while Leicester have tasted defeated just once after their loss to Pau back in January. The tie is on FR4, BT Sport and beIN SPORTS. 

Pool positions 

Toulon: 1st, Pool 2, 28 points. 

Leicester: 1st, Pool 5, 23 points. 

QF results 

Toulon 11 Scarlets 6 

Leicester v Castres Olympique – cancelled 

Head-to-head record 

Toulon wins: 2 

Draws: 0 

Leicester wins:  

First meeting in Challenge Cup 

Leading 2019/20 points-scorers 

Toulon: Anthony Belleau 40, Louis Carbonel 18, Baptiste Serin & Masivesi Dakuwaqa 15 

Leicester: George Ford 40, Tom Hardwick 27, Jonah Holmes 20 

Team news

  • Leicester Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick has made two changes, with Kini Murimurivalu shifting from the wing to full-back and Harry Potter included on one wing with Nemani Nadolo. On the bench, Thom Smith replaces Jordan Taufua.
  • RC Toulon have again named a strong XV with the likes of Sergio Parisse, Charles Ollivon and Louis Carbonel all in the side on Saturday evening.

Key quotes

Patrice Collazo (Toulon): “I expect full commitment from my players, as we saw last week against the Scarlets, when we relied on each other. I think the Tigers have staked everything on this competition. We know Leicester. They have a big pack, big individuals in the backs and a lot of internationals. There will be no surprises this weekend. There will be no surprises in the intensity nor in the fight they will put up. We have to battle to the end.”

Tom Youngs: (Leicester) “When you get a chance in a quarter-final or a semi-final, the opportunity – one shot – is fantastic, so knockout rugby is always important. This is a great opportunity and there’s an excitement around this competition. Europe is very important to us players and the club, but ultimately it’s just nice to have that opportunity to chase a bit of silverware and see where we could end up.”

Match facts

  • RC Toulon and Leicester Tigers have never met in the Challenge Cup, although they’ve faced one another three times in European competition with the TOP 14 club winning twice (L1), including a victory in in the 2013 Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final at Mayol.
  • Toulon have reached the semi-finals for the third time and have progressed to the final on each occasion, defeating Connacht in 2010 and Stade Français Paris in 2012.
  • Toulon are the only side with a 100% winning record this season, and their current seven-game streak is their best in the competition.
  • Toulon have won their last four Challenge Cup games against Gallagher Premiership opposition, more than they had won in their previous 13 such fixtures (W3, L10).
  • Leicester have won one of their last six games against TOP 14 opposition in European competition, however, the solitary victory in that run came in Round 1 this season when they defeated Pau 41-20 at Welford Road.
  • Tigers have scored nine tries in the opening quarter of their games this season, more than any other side, and they have also conceded the fewest number of second half tries (2).
  • Toulon have the best tackle success rate this season, completing 88% of their attempted tackles, with only Cardiff Blues (14.8) averaging fewer missed tackles per game (16.3).
  • Baptiste Serin has made seven try assists to date, more than any other player in the competition.
  • Gabin Villiere has made 206 metres from his 13 carries this season, and his average gain of 15.8 metres is the best rate of any player to carry on more than 10 occasions.
  • Villiere won five turnovers against Scarlets last weekend, the most by any player in the quarter-finals, while his teammate Beka Gigashvili won the joint second most (3). 

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RC Toulon cruise past Leicester to set up Bristol final

Saturday 26th September 2020

10:07 pm (GMT)

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RC Toulon cruise past Leicester to set up Bristol final

Bryce Heem of Toulon celebrates after scoring Toulon's first try

RC Toulon will face Bristol Bears in the 2020 European Rugby Challenge Cup final after a 34-19 win over Leicester Tigers at Stade Felix Mayol on Saturday evening.

The visitors made a quick start and took a 3-0 lead through a George Ford penalty but the hosts soon took over and established a lead they would not relinquish.

Sergio Parisse provided the assist for the opening try, stripping Leicester of possession before finding Bryce Heem – playing in the centres  – who powered clear of two men and fended off another before dotting down in the left corner.

Louis Carbonel soon stretched the lead out to seven and that became 14 when Toulon grabbed a second try on 20 minutes.

Toulon stretched and pulled the Leicester defence all over the park as they gave up a turnover, allowing Raphael Lakafia to find Gabin Villiere who stepped inside past a pair of Leicester defenders and scored in the corner.

Ford and Carbonel then exchanged penalties before the former found Nemani Nadolo out wide just before the break and he powered past the slender frame of Carbonel before doing well to hold off another Toulon defender and scoring in the corner.

That gave Leicester a nine-point deficit to make up in the second period and they cut the gap to six from the kicking tee soon after, but that was as good as it got for the East Midlands club.

It was Charles Ollivon who initially worked round the outside of the stubborn Leicester line before Parisse finds Facundo Isa in plenty of space and he crossed the try line and cut back inside to make the conversion a little easier for Carbonel who made no mistake.

Toulon’s spot in next month’s final was secured on 67 minutes when a series of lovely offloads helped Toulon create some holes in the Leicester line and Paia’aua finds Villière who went over for his second score of the evening.

Leicester did manage a late consolation try through Harry Potter but despite some further late pressure, the French side saw out the final minutes and secured a date with Bristol at Stade Maurice-David next month.

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