Sunday 20 October 2019

Zebo and Ryan bid to inflict rare defeat on Top 14 table-toppers in Paris showdown

Racing's Simon Zebo. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Racing's Simon Zebo. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Nigel Whittaker

Simon Zebo will be targeting a third successive Champions Cup semi-final appearance, and a first in the blue and white of Racing 92, when the Parisians take on Toulouse in an all-French affair in La Defense Arena tomorrow.

Zebo's fellow Munster man Donnacha Ryan packs down in the engine-room for last year's finalists, who have restored the likes of Teddy Thomas and Finn Russell to their starting line-up after sitting out last weekend's Top 14 win against Bordeaux-Begles.

Travelling to play at the futuristic home of Racing 92 is a daunting challenge for any side but Toulouse will not be short of confidence as they head in to tomorrow's clash on the back of some scintillating Top 14 form.

Anomaly Joint head coaches Ugo Mola and Regis Sonnes oversaw a win at La Defense Arena only last month, a stand-out success in a run that has seen them put together 13 wins from their last 14 Top 14 outings to sit atop the table, the one anomaly being a draw at Clermont just before Christmas.

While Toulouse are the form team in France and are four-time European champions, Racing 92 have the more recent pedigree in the competition, and have a multi-talented squad that can cause problems all over the field.

"They have a massive pack, with players who can carry the ball when it's off the ground and speed up the game when necessary," Toulouse assistant coach Jean Bouilhou said.

"They have players who are constantly looking to get forward, none more so than their number 10 (Finn Russell). If you go through position by position, I think they have top-level players in each of them."

Verdict: Racing 92

International Rugby Newsletter

Rugby insights and commentary from our renowned journalists like Neil Francis, Will Slattery, Alan Quinlan & Cian Tracey.

Racing 92 - S Zebo; T Thomas, V Vakatawa, H Chavancy, J Imhoff; F Russell, M Machenaud; G Gogichashvili, D Szarzewski (capt), B Tameifuna; D Ryan, L Nakarawa; B Chouzenoux, B Le Roux, A Claassen. Reps: C Chat, E Ben Arous, C Gomes Sa, D Bird, B Palu, A Gibert, B Volavola, W Lauret.

Toulouse - C Kolbe; Y Huget, S Guitoune, R Ntamack, M Médard; Z Holmes, A Dupont; C Baille, P Mauvaka, C Faumuina; R Arnold, R Gray; R Elstadt, F Cros, J Kaino (capt). Reps: G Marchand, C Castets, M Van Dyk, S Tolofua, P Faasalele, S Bézy, T Ramos, P Ahki.

  • Racing 92 v Toulouse, Live, BT Sport, 3.15 tomorrow

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