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Sunday, 21 October, 2018

Bottle-jobs Clermont are not certain to beat finals hoodoo

Toulon could run them close

Clermont fans cheer on their team
1 of 1

Clermont v Toulon
Sky Sports 2, 7.45pm Sunday

Clermont, the perennial bridesmaids of the Top 14, are seven-point favourites for the grand final against Toulon at the Stade de France.

Reaching five finals in the last ten years is a decent return, but Clermont have won just one of those and that sole victory in 2010 was the first time they had lifted the Bouclier de Brennus after ten consecutive final defeats, a run stretching back to the 1930s.

Les Jaunards have been branded as a team who can't rise to the big occasion, and they have suffered three European Champions Cup final defeats, two of them at the hands of Toulon.

And Toulon have again shown greater composure in the run to the final. They edged table-toppers La Rochelle 18-15 in the semis, inflicting a first home defeat on Les Corsaires, and while Clermont beat Racing 92 easily enough in their last-four clash, they made it hard for themselves as Flip van der Merwe was sent off in the second half.

Clermont were easy 30-6 winners over Toulon on home soil but it's often a different story away from their Stade Marcel Michelin base and they were edged 23-21 in the reverse fixture.

The last six Top 14 finals have been won by a single-figure margin and it could be worth backing Toulon to at least stay within a score.

Recommendation
Toulon +7
1pt 10-11 general

Reaching five finals in the last ten years is a decent return, but Clermont have won just one of those
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