Leinster v Toulouse
Heineken Champions Cup, Round 5
Aviva Stadium, Dublin @5:30pm, Saturday 12th January 2019
TV: Virgin One, Channel 4 & BT Sports
Positions: Leinster (2nd in Pool 1 – 15pts) Toulouse (1st in Pool 1 – 17pts)
A mouthwatering clash at the R.D.S. awaits at lunchtime on Saturday. The French aristocrats of Toulouse have their swagger back, they have been in scintillating form this season and after a couple of years in the wilderness after the departure of Guy Noves, they have returned to their swashbuckling style of mixing a teak tough pack with quick elusive back play.
Since the sides met in cracking encounter Stade Ernest Wallon, that the home side edged by 28 v 27 back in round 2, Toulouse have won seven out of the eight games they played. The game they failed to win was a very creditable 23 v 23 draw away to Clermont just before Christmas.
Leinster will be well aware of the threat carried by the French side, however, Leo Cullen’s men are more than capable of matching Toulouse over the course of 80 minutes.
Johnny Sexton injury is a blow to Cullen’s side, but Ross Byrne has risen to the big occasion before and at 23 years of age can no longer be seen as a young pretender. Indeed his opposite number for Toulouse is another 23 year old, Thomas Ramos. Sean Cronin and Adam Byrne are the only two players retained by Leo Cullen from the side that hammered Ulster 40-7 last weekend.