Preview: Toulouse v Bath

Date published: January 16 2015

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Victory over Bath in Sunday’s clash at Stade Ernest Wallon will guarantee Toulouse a place in the European Champions Cup quarter-finals.

The four-time champions are the only team in the competition who can boast a 100 percent record this season and are a win away from qualifying for the quarter-finals or the 15th time in their history.

By contrast, Bath need to end their pool campaign with two big wins after losing their opening two games, including the 21-19 loss to Toulouse at the Rec.

Bath are six points behind Toulouse in Pool Four, meaning defeat on Sunday will knock them out of the competition.

But these side have had contrasting domestic fortunes as Toulouse’s patchy Top 14 form has left them struggling to break into the top half of the standings while Bath are flying high in the Premiership, just one points behind pacesetters Northampton.

Bath will be without new England wing Semesa Rokoduguni. Springbok back row star Francois Louw missed the first-leg, but his back row battle with Thierry Dusautoir could be vital to the outcome.

Bath went to Toulouse in their final Pool game in 2000 and overturned their home defeat in a famous 19-14 victory.

Anthony Watson has beaten 15 defenders in this season’s competition, at least two more than anybody else.

Toulouse have produced 70 offloads in the Champions Cup this season – a competition high.

In team news, Paul James will captain Bath from the front row alongside fellow internationals Rob Webber and David Wilson.

Dominic Day and Dave Attwood combine in the engine room and the unchanged back row of Matt Garvey, Francois Louw and Leroy Houston complete the pack.

Chris Cook and George Ford continue pulling the strings in the half-backs as Anthony Watson starts at ful-lback. Kyle Eastmond returns to partner Jonathan Joseph in the midfield and Horacio Agulla lines up on the right wing opposite Matt Banahan on the left.

Toulouse have named Toby Flood at fly-half with Luke McAlister starting in midfielf alongside Yann David.

In the second row, Yoann Maestri and Joe Tekori start, meaning Patricio Albacete must settle for a place on the bench.

Form: Toulouse are unbeaten at the top of Pool 4 after four successive victories. Toulouse have won seven of their last eight games in the competition, their best run since winning 11 in a row in a run which saw the French side lift the trophy for the fourth time. Bath have lost four of their last five away games in France, though their last visit across the Channel produced their largest ever away win in the country (30-5 vs Montpellier). Toulouse won 12-9 in Glasgow in their last European game while Bath beat Montpellier 32-12 on home soil. These teams have played each other five times before, with Toulouse winning three times and one draw. Toulouse won 21-19 in Bath in Round 2. Bath moved to second in the Premiership standings last week with a 39-26 victory over Wasps at home. Toulouse have won eight out of their 10 home games this season. They are currently seventh in the Top 14 after hanging on to edge La Rochelle 29-26 at home last Saturday.

The teams:

Toulouse: 15 Maxime M

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