Tigers to top Toulouse

  • By: Reece Killworth
  • Last Updated: January 20 2013, 15:00 GMT

There can no doubt about the tie of the round as the Heineken Cup pool stages reach their conclusion this weekend.

Richard Cockerill can mastermind a Leicester win
Richard Cockerill can mastermind a Leicester win

Were Leicester Tigers and Toulouse to stage a 'trophy-off' before their match at Welford Road on Sunday, the glint of the silverware would be blinding.

Between them, these two sides have won the Heineken Cup no fewer than six times (Toulouse lead that particular head-to-head 4-2) and between 2001 and 2005 only Wasps disturbed their monopoly on the trophy.

Domestically, nine Premiership titles plays 19 Top 14 crowns, numbers which merely underline the status of these two teams as European heavyweights.

But it's knockout rugby a round earlier than planned as they prepare to lock horns in what promises to be an intriguing battle on Sunday afternoon.

The bare facts are a draw is enough for French giants Toulouse to qualify as they take a two-point advantage over the Tigers into the game.

And they will take heart from a 23-9 victory over Richard Cockerill's men in the reverse fixture, a game played back in the middle of October.

Welford Road is a veritable fortress for the Tigers, though, and they are unbeaten in their last 21 Heineken Cup games there - a run that goes all the way back to a home match with Munster in October 2006.

Toulouse, meanwhile, have lost once on the road already this European campaign - a 17-6 defeat at Ospreys, who Tigers held 15-15, at the Liberty.

And when you factor in their Top 14 form of late, they've actually lost three of their last five matches on the road in all competitions.

That's got to be a concern even when you recall the last time they failed to reach the knockout stages of this competition was back in 2007.

Of course, it's ultimately the players who decide the outcome of a match, but I think home advantage - particularly with the weather in the UK as it currently is - can sway this one in Leicester's favour.

They've won five of their last six home games by a margin of between one and 10 points, while Toulouse are rarely well beaten - that defeat to Ospreys the only one of their last eight HC defeats to be by more than 10 points.

With the French side also having a pretty poor record in Round 6 of the pools (only one win since 2008), Leicester to win by 1-10 points is the call.

  • Preview posted at 1935 GMT on 18/01/2013.