Friday 19 January 2018

Noves ramps up pressure on Stade

Toulouse v Stade Francais, 4.30 (Irish time), Stade Municipal, Toulouse


The clash of the French heavyweights with Toulouse well ahead in the betting market thanks largely to their 29-0 win away to Stade in the Top 14 in recent weeks.

The home side are in a strong position as they can concentrate completely on the Heineken Cup after securing their Top 14 play-off position earlier this month with a 28-23 victory over Racing Metro.

Stade's preparation has not been ideal as they have had a poor domestic season, only easing their relegation worries last weekend with a 19-10 victory over Clermont at the Stade de France.

They have had off-field problems too with the banning of Julien Dupuy and David Attoub for gouging Ulster's Stephen Ferris, while the club were recently ordered to appear before the sport's financial authorities to provide guarantees over its financing.

Toulouse have a trump card in Guy Noves, who has been head coach at the club since 1993 and has guided them to seven domestic titles and three Heineken Cups in that time, and he has ramped up the pressure on the Parisians in the build-up to tomorrow's encounter.

"What is certain, is that we will be ready for Stade on Sunday," he commented. "We will not be caught unawares by the intensity and aggression of the Stade Francais players."

Their back line is laced with international class too with Maxime Medard, Cédric Heymans, Byron Kelleher and bustling centre Yannick Jauzion also likely to be included meaning the home side should continue their great record in this competition.

Odds (best available): Toulouse 2/5 Stade Francais 3/1

Verdict: Toulouse

Irish Independent

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