5 reasons to believe Leinster will beat Toulon this weekend

THE BOOKIES GIVE Toulon a comfortable 11-point cushion for this weekend’s Champions Cup semi-final meeting with their predecessors as champions.

However, because sport is so often much more complicated than that and we don’t want to see you losing a heap of money spread betting, here’s why you should think twice about betting against Leinster.

1. The Notorious SOB

WHEN LEINSTER WENT to Stade Mayol for last season’s quarter-final, they were choked out of the game at source as Steffon Armitage dominated the tackle area.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Leinster had little response at the time, but now they have their own breakdown power merchant back and Sean O’Brien is itching for a big day out in blue after delivering his best performance for Ireland on the day the Championship was won.

2. Toulon taking their foot off the pedal

While Leinster are working hard this week to fix their own defensive issues, so too will Toulon. Conceding six tries in two games is nobody’s idea of a tight defence and the manner in which Wasps were able to fight back in to their quarter-final loss should give Leinster real reason for optimism.

As formidable as Toulon’s pack is, they can be got at when they are moved around – easier said than done, admittedly – and Leinster certainly have attackers capable of posing a threat in wide channels.

3. Marseille

For the first time in three years, Matt O’Connor does not have to take a team to Stade Mayol in Toulon. The Australian suffered quarter-final defeats there with Leicester before coming back with Leinster, but this time he will take Toulon slightly away from their home patch.

James Coughlan blocks a Wilkinson drop-goal before Toulon win out 24 – 16. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Munster’s resolute display in the same ground in last year’s semi-final showed that Toulon are not quite as formidable in unfamiliar surroundings.

4. Too much pride

It’s been a bad season by all accounts from Leinster, but with three-time champions still around the squad this will be no time to accept their lot and hope everything is better when Johnny Sexton comes back.

Leinster will hare out of the traps and they will hit Toulon with everything in their armoury. The Rouge et Noir may well be back-to-back champs, but they have a notable absentee from their two coronations to date — the calming influence of Jonny Wilkinson. Putting every step right on the road to a final is nigh on impossible, but with JW, Toulon did just that before the Top14 side broke in to a 26 – 9 lead after the sides were level at the break.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

5. Accuracy off the tee

With Wilkinson gone, Ian Madigan can rightly take his place among the world’s most  accurate goal-kickers. The Blackrock boy may not have yet shown an ability to work at number 10, but his consistency off the kicking tee has made him impossible to drop.

Chances will be at a premium for Leinster on the Cote D’Azur, but another high percentage return from the 26-year-old could make all the difference.

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