Jan 10, 2014
Toulouse - Match Preview
Saracens travel to the south of France to face four time winners Toulouse this Sunday in Pool 3 of the Heineken Cup, here Henry Fraser previews Saracens opponents.
Toulouse - Form guide, won 8, lost 7.
Toulouse may not have their usual dominance in the domestic league, but the four times European champions always thrive in the Heineken Cup. No matter what their form.
The French giants are really backing French youth at a time when young French players in the Top 14 is very rare. Their young power players, like Tolofua and Galan in the forwards and Fickou in the backs, give exuberance and flare to mix with all the experience in the rest of the team.
They currently sit in sixth place in the league and that's without winning a single away match. It has been their deadly home form that is keeping them in a playoff spot. In fact the only game they have lost at home was to Connacht in the H Cup. If the league just showed home matches Toulouse would be third.
All their home stats this season have given them one of the most fearsome home records in Europe.
In terms of tries scored they are about average with twenty eight tries. However twenty one of these have come at home. They clearly love playing for the home fans. They do tend to start off a bit slow with only four tries coming in the first quarter. A strong start from Sarries is imperative because Toulouse always come back strong with over a third of their tries coming in the final quarter.
Their defence has been outstanding this year. They have only conceded sixteen tries in their fifteen games, which puts them second in fewest tries conceded. What is even more impressive is that in their eight home games they have only conceded three tries. This certainly will be the sternest test of the potent Sarries attack.
The battle up front in the forwards will be vital. Toulouse have a huge pack and normally will have six forwards on the bench too, so they can bring on nearly and entire fresh pack. This means the Sarries forward pack will be pushed right until the end. The set piece will become key, especially at scrum time.
With internationals flooding the pitch on Sunday there is no doubt that this will be a good game. Toulouse will be looking to bounce back from their defeat against Connacht and set the record straight this weekend. It's not often they lose at home.
18/10/13 Saracens 16-17 Toulouse
Players to watch
Gael Fickou - At the ripe old age of nineteen Fickou is fast becoming a global rugby star. After making an eye catching performance against Leicester in his H Cup debut last season he earned his international debut at only eighteen. He has all the attributes to make a great centre, pace, good feet, great game awareness and the ability to distribute very well. He has bulked up since last season giving him the chance to break more tackles. The kid is a class act.