Ahead of Friday’s two Heineken Champions Cup Round 2 fixtures, which include a clash between unbeaten pair Scarlets and Toulon, we take a look at how each club got on last week, their key men and all the latest team news…
Scarlets vs Toulon, 5.30pm
Last week: Scarlets had a superb start to their 2020/21 Champions Cup campaign last week, as they edged a nail-biter to beat Bath at the Rec 23-19.
It was the second time in three seasons the West Walians had travelled to Bath and won, and much of this victory rested on an incredible defensive display. Full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked three penalties and two conversions to keep his side within touching distance, and then denied Bath fly-half Josh Matavesi a try at the death by holding the ball up.
Scarlets scrum-half Gareth Davies scored the first try, as they worked the ball to the left and Steff Evans easily evaded opposite number Joe Cokanasiga, while replacement scrum-half Kieran Hardy made it 20-19 with 15 minutes left.
Bath could still have won the game deep into stoppage time but another last-ditch tackle on the goal-line, this time by No 8 Sione Kalamafoni, prevented Ben Spencer from snatching victory for the English club.
Toulon began with a win too, beating Sale 26-14 at home, as a fabulous Louis Carbonel performance at out-half, saw the 21-year-old contribute 16 points and play a part in tries for wings Gabin Villiere and Ramiro Moyano.
Despite stretching into a 26-0 lead, however, Toulon did not go on to claim the bonus-point, as the Sharks added to late tries to leave the scoreboard more respectable.
Key men: For Scarlets, Leigh Halfpenny was hugely important last week, and he will be their key man if they are to beat Toulon in Llanelli on Friday.
Scrum-half Gareth Davies has been in superb form, but he starts from the bench. As such, Halfpenny’s leadership, defensive abilities, high ball skills and place-kicking mean he will be crucial.
For Toulon, this one is simple. As mentioned above, the quality of virtually their entire performance in victory over Sale rested on the shoulders of 21-year-old out-half Carbonel.
He may be behind Romain Ntamack and Matthieu Jalibert in the France reckoning, but Carbonel showed his silky skills, kicking prowess and playmaking abilities and then some.
Stop him playing, and you should go someway to topping Toulon it seems.
Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Steff Hughes (c), 11 Tom Rogers, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Kieran Hardy, 1 Wyn Jones, 2 Ryan Elias, 3 Javan Sebastian, 4 Tevita Ratuva, 5 Morgan Jones, 6 Ed Kennedy, 7 Joshua Macleod, 8 Uzair Cassiem.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Kemsley Mathias, 18 Pieter Scholtz, 19 Iestyn Rees, 20 Dan Davis, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Tyler Morgan.
RC Toulon: 15 Duncan Paia’aua, 14 Ramiro Moyano Joya, 13 Isaiah Toeava, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Gabin Villière, 10 Louis Carbonel, 9 Baptiste Serin, 1 Jean Baptiste Gros, 2 Christopher Tolofua, 3 Emerick Setiano, 4 Brian Alainu’uese, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 6 Swan Rebbadj, 7 Charles Ollivon (c), 8 Facundo Isa.
Replacements: 16 Bastien Soury, 17 Luka Tchelidze, 18 Jérémy Boyadjis, 19 Thomas Jolmes, 20 Julien Ory, 21 Theo Dachary, 22 Anthony Meric, 23 Masivesi Dakuwaqa.
Wasps vs Montpellier, 8pm
Last week: It was a case of job done – eventually – last week for Wasps, as two late tries saw them secure a bonus-point 24-8 victory over the Dragons at Rodney Parade.
Tries from hooker Tom Cruse, scrum-half Dan Robson and flankers Jack Willis and Thomas Young – the latter two within the last 10 minutes – along with two conversions from centre Jimmy Gopperth saw Wasps home.
Montpellier, despite claiming in the build-up to this week that they would take Europe seriously this year, conceded early at home to Leinster and then seemed to throw in the towel, ultimately losing 35-14.
Indeed, they conceded five tries in the home defeat, allowing Leinster away with a bonus-point win in the end, and that might herald a change in focus going forward for the Top 14 outfit.
Key men: For Wasps, Dan Robson continues to be important at scrum-half, while their most impressive and most talented performer has been back-row Jack Willis. Neither are playing on Friday, however with Wasps choosing to rest their international contingent.
As such, their key man for the Montpellier clash will be centre and place-kicker Jimmy Gopperth. The Kiwi may now be 37, but his kicking game, power in the tackle and carry and, most crucially, his accuracy of the tee mark him out as vital. He’s also a key leader for this Wasps squad, and will need to be so with the figures absent on Friday.
Montpellier showed up extremely poorly last week, but did so without some key men, including No 8 Louis Picamoles.
The imposing forward is one of the best carriers in the sport, and should add a whole new dimension to the Montpellier attack. The likes of hooker Bismark du Plessis and former Saracens tighthead Titi Lamositele also return, while superb scrum-half Cobus Reinach is on the bench.
Wasps: 15 Lima Sopoaga, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Paulo Odogwu, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Charlie Atkinson, 9 Will Porter, 1 Ben Harris, 2 Tom Cruse, 3 Kieran Brookes, 4 Tim Cardall, 5 James Gaskell, 6 Ben Morris, 7 Thomas Young (c), 8 Alfie Barbeary.
Replacements: 16 Gabriel Oghre, 17 Tom West, 18 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 19 Levi Douglas, 20 Tom Willis, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Michael Le Bourgeois, 23 Matteo Minozzi.
Montpellier: 15 Henry Immelman, 14 Vincent Martin, 13 Alex Lozowski, 12 Arthur Vincent (c), 11 Paul Vallée, 10 Louis Foursans, 9 Benoit Paillaugue; 1 Enzo Forletta, 2 Bismarck Du Plessis, 3 Titi Lamositele, 4 Nico Janse van Rensburg, 5 Bastien Chalureau, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 7 Alexandre Becognee, 8 Louis Picamoles.
Replacements: 16 Youri Delhommel, 17 Mikheil Nariashvili, 18 Levan Chilachava, 19 Yacouba Camara, 20 Caleb Timu, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Yvan Reilhac, 23 Gabriel N’gandebe.
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