Preview: Toulon v Leicester

Date published: December 13 2014

Leigh Halfpenny returns to the Toulon starting XV for Sunday’s European Champions Cup clash with Leicester at Stade Felix Mayol.

Halfpenny slots back in at full-back, meaning Delon Armitage shifts to the wing at the expense of Drew Mitchell.

In the pack, former Springbok flank Juan Smith starts ahead of Mamuka Gorgodze, who is on the bench.

Outspoken prop Martin Castrogiovanni has been dropped for the clash against his former club with Levan Chilachava promoted to the starting XV. The front row shows one other change as Alexandre Menini comes in for Xavier Chiocci.

Meanwhile, the Leicester starting XV shows three changes to the side that won at Welford Road last weekend.

Italian internationals Robert Barbieri and Leonardo Ghiraldini start at number eight and hooker respectively, taking over from Jordan Crane and Tom Youngs.

England lock Geoff Parling returns to the starting side ahead of Graham Kitchener.

Tigers have won just once in their last nine visits to France while Toulon have won all 12 of their previous home games in the competition.

“We need to back [last week’s] result up again this weekend,” said scrum half Ben Youngs.

“We have had a big confidence boost to beat the defending champions. Toulon are such a powerful side in terms of their pack, they are obviously going for a third- straight title so we have to keep our focus.

“We are one step closer in terms of trying to make our way out of this pool but we have got the ultimate challenge in going to their place and it is going to be a very, very tough ask. But it is one we are looking forward to.”

More to follow…

Form: Leicester became the first English side to beat Toulon in Europe’s top competition with their 25-21 success at Welford Road last weekend. The only previous meeting between the sides had seen Toulon emerge victorious in a quarter-final clash in Marseille in 2013. Toulon will be looking to continue their great run at home, where they have never lost in Europe’s elite tournament. Vereniki Goneva’s last-gasp converted try in Montpellier helped Leicester to a rare win in France last season.

The teams:

Toulon: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Delon Armitage, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Chris Masoe (c) 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Juan Smith, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Levan Chilachava, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Alexandre Menini.
Replacements:16 Jean-Charles Orioli, 17 Florian Fresia, 18 Carl Hayman, 19 Mamuka Gorgodze, 20 James O’Connor, 21 Jocelino Suta, 22 Michael Claassens, 23 Romain Taofifenua

Leicester Tigers: 15 Matthew Tait, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Ben Youngs (c), 8 Robert Barbieri 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements:16 Tom Youngs, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Sebastian De Chaves, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 Tom Croft, 22 Sam Harrison, 23 Freddie Burns

Date: Saturday, 13 December
Venue: Stade F