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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Toulon primed for early strike against reshuffled Munster

Irish giants narrow favourites at Limerick fortress

Ma'a Nonu of Toulon
1 of 1

European Champions Cup
Sky Sports Action, 3.15pm Saturday

Having been crowned European champions for three consecutive years from 2013 to 2015 Toulon have struggled to hit those heights again and are four-point underdogs for this tough quarter-final at Munster's Thomond Park fortress.

Les Toulonnais have fallen at the last-eight stage in the last two years, edged out by Racing in 2016 and comfortably defeated at Clermont 12 months ago.

Their away form in the pool stage might suggest they should be more than four-point underdogs as they needed a last-minute score to beat group makeweights Benetton and lost at Bath and Scarlets.

But they arrive in Limerick full of confidence after a 49-0 dismantling of Clermont in the Top 14 last weekend, and although their opponents are struggling this season, Toulon looked in imperious attacking form.

They take on a Munster side who have not been together since the end of the pool stage as their sizeable Six Nations contingent were rested for last week's Pro14 success over Scarlets.

The power of their pack earned Munster a 19-7 win in that clash but not before they had fallen behind to an Aled Davies try after six minutes, and their reshuffled side may again be vulnerable to an early strike.

Munster coach Johann van Graan has made six changes to his starting line-up including the return of Grand Slam winners Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray and CJ Stander.

Toulon bagged the opening try against Clermont last week after just six minutes, and crossed within the opening ten minutes in four of their six pool matches. It wasn't always the opening try of the match but if Munster should be slow out of their blocks Toulon have looked slick enough in attack to land the first blow.

Munster have won eight of nine home quarter-finals in this tournament but are missing key backs Chris Farrell and Keith Earls. Toulon bring in France internationals Francois Trinh-Duc and Guilhem Guirado as well as All Blacks legend Ma'a Nonu to their starting line-up.

Recommendation
Toulon to score the first try
1pt 6-5 Hills


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Toulon bagged the opening try against Clermont last week after six minutes, and crossed in the opening ten minutes in four of their six pool matches
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