Planet Rugby

Preview: Toulon v Perpignan

21st November 2013 16:54

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Johnny Wilkinson Toulon v Perpignan

Star of the show: Jonny Wilkinson

Top 14 co-leaders Toulon host Perpignan on Friday hoping that a big win will take them clear at the summit of the standings.

Toulon are level with Montpellier at the top of table but with les Héraultais hosting defending champions Castres on Saturday, Jonny Wilkinson and co. will be aware that a bonus-point win should be enough to move ahead again.

Despite having a star-studded squad, Toulon have lost fewer players to the November Tests than Perpignan. RCT are missing 10 internationals duty while USAP are without 13.

Perpignan have lost on their last four visits to the Var, where they have not won since 2009.

Toulon have the best defence in the Top 14 having conceded just eight tries in 11 games. Toulon also have the league's second best attack having scored 24 tries, three less than Clermont but five more that Perpignan.

Friday's visitors are in good form however and lie just four points off the lead.

Toulon are without former Springbok Danie Rossouw, who is facing the possibility of surgery on a hip injury. Virgile Bruni makes his first appearance on the bench after a public spat with coach Bernard Laporte following his signing for Perpignan.

USAP have named former France scrum-half Nicolas Durand at fly-half in the absence of a specialist. James Hook, Tommy Allan and Camille Lopez are all away on international duty while Dewaldt Duvenage, who was set to play at 10, got injury on Thursday.

Bertrand Guiry returns to the back-row for the first time since Round Three.

The teams:

Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Alexis Palisson, 13 Maxime Mermoz, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 David Smith, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Sebastien Tillous Borde, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Juan Smith, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Jocelino Suta, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Jean Charles Orioli, 17 Florian Fresia, 18 Pierrick Gunther, 19 Virgile Bruni, 20 Rudi Wulf, 21 Drew Mitchell, 22 Michael Claassens, 23 Xavier Chiocci.

Perpignan: 15 Joffrey Michel, 14 Watisoni Votu, 13 David Marty, 12 Wandile Mjekevu, 11 Richard Haughton, 10 Nicolas Durand, 9 Tom Ecochard, 8 Luke Narraway, 7 Jean-Pierre Perez, 6 Bertrand Guiry, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Guillaume Vilaceca, 3 Kisi Pulu, 2 Romain Terrain, 1 Sebastien Taofifenua.
Replacements: 16 Maxime Delonca, 17 Jean Baptiste Custoja, 18 Nicolas Rabat, 19 Karl Chateau, 20 Tim Menzel, 21 Jens Torfs, 22 Romain Fernandez, 23 Giorge Jgenti.

Results last season: Toulon 46-13 Perpignan; Perpignan 15-21 ToulonDate: Friday, November 22
Venue: Stade Felix Mayol, Toulon
Kick-off: 20.45 local (19.45 GMT)
Referee: Sébastien Clouté
Assistant referees: Laurent Cardona, Laurent Breil
Television match official: Eric Gauzins

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