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Preview: Exeter Chiefs v Toulon

06th December 2013 08:03

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jonny wilkinson toulon

Leading Toulon: Jonny Wilkinson

Toulon we look to get their Heineken Cup title defence back on track as they face tricky journey to Exeter Chiefs on Saturday.

Bernard Laporte's star-studded side have won just once on the road all season and are under pressure as they visit the pool leaders.

Toulon were hammered 23-0 by Stade Franšais in the Top 14 last weekend and were beaten by Cardiff Blues in the shock result of Round 2 last month and now find themselves sitting second in Pool 2.

Exeter started their second Heineken Cup campaign in similar fashion to Toulon as they put six tries past the Blues in Devon, but they then lost out to Glasgow Warriors.

Chiefs have also lost in their last three domestic outings.r the past fortnight, having also suffered a heavy reverse to Bath in the LV= Cup.

Toulon are without injured full-back Delon Armitage as well as wing David Smith. Drew Mitchell starts in the 15 jersey while Mathieu Bastareaud gets the nod ahead of Maxime Mermoz.

There are three South African in the pack in the form of Juan Smith, Bakkies Botha and Craig Burden.

Team news for the Chiefs sees head coach Rob Baxter stick with the same starting line-up that was narrowly defeated in last weekend's Premiership derby at Bath. The sole change to personnel comes on the bench where long-serving lock James Hanks comes in for Don Armand.

"With every competition we play in, we look tokeep everything alive for as long as we can," said Baxter.

"From the first whistle, we look to get after it all. I often say we tend to look at all competition as 200m sprints where we try and fly out of the blocks, hold on in the middle and then try to finish strong.

"I'll be honest, we very much look at the Premiership as our bread and butter," added Baxter. "In some ways, they are almost the pressure games and the games that get the pulse racing. However, this one is different, the Heineken Cup is just about pure excitement and really testing yourselves, so I really look forward to them.

"Over the last couple of seasons we have tended to show our best qualities in the Heineken and that is why I like it so much. It's very important to the players to play at the highest level possible and it's a great chance for them to perform against the best players in Europe. It's also very important to our supporters that because we have worked very hard to get into this competition, now we have show ourselves as the best we can be.

The teams:

Exeter Chiefs:15 Luke Arscott, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Phil Dollman, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Dave Ewers, 7 Ben White, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (capt), 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Chris Whitehead, 17 Brett Sturgess, 18 Alex Brown, 19 James Hanks, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Ian Whitten,

Toulon: 15 Drew Mitchell, 14 Alexis Palisson, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Jonny Wilkinson (capt), 9 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Juan Smith, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Florian Fresia.
Replacements: 16 Jean-Charles Orioli, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Carl Hayman, 19 Virgile Bruni, 20 Rudi Wulf, 21 Maxime Mermoz, 22 Michael Claassens, 23 Jocelino Suta,

Date: Saturday 7th December
Venue: Sandy Park
Kick-off: 1335 (local and GMT)
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Eddie Hogan-O'Connell, Nigel Correll (both Ireland)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)

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1Northampton726
2Exeter724
3Bath724
4Saracens724
5Wasps720