Will Stade Toulousain continue its journey towards the European Cup-Top 14 double?
To succeed RC Toulon, the last author of this feat in 2014, Ugo Mola's players will first have to overcome Union Bordeaux-Bègles… once again.
In addition to Toulouse's two victories in the regular phase of the Top 14, the last two weeks ago for the last day, Bordeaux and Toulouse faced each other in the European Cup on May 1.
It was already in the semifinals, and Toulouse won again (21-9).
In this new duel between the clubs of the Garonne on Saturday evening at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Lille, in the semi-final of the Top 14, Toulouse therefore logically leaves the favorite. Even handicapped in the second row by the absences of Richie Arnold and Joe Tekori, the European champion will be hard to beat. With his late Dupont-Ntamack hinge, the rise to the second row of the All Black Jérôme Kaino, or the return of suspension to the tailgating of the excellent Julien Marchand, the Toulouse ogre impresses.
"We have a flamboyant generation which has managed to win everywhere and against almost everyone," recognizes Ugo Mola.
But if we predict too much of a bright future, we can have a backlash.
Premier of the championship and European champion, it could be a successful season.
But our appetite is not satisfied.
I didn't need to insist on it to keep the players engaged.
“The prospect of achieving the double and making history is in no way a burden, believes Romain Ntamack.
Not a player has mentioned it in the last month.
It's a motivation but we must first beat Bordeaux in the semi, before moving on to the rest.
We remain focused on Saturday's game.
New duel Ntamack- Jalibert
Bordeaux side, manager Christophe Urios has promised to change a few things in the way of approaching the match.
“The three games lost against them inspire us.
We know why we lost.
If we approach the game the same way, we have no reason to win.
We are going to approach it a little differently.
The team will be ready for a great game.
Without revealing his strategy, the Girondin coach spoke of moving the ball less.
"This is one of the lessons of the last match against Toulouse".
And evoked the fundamentals dear to his philosophy of play: "a big conquest, a good occupation of the ground, the defense.
If you don't have that, you don't win, it's that simple ”.
To read also "They can become the best in the world": Jalibert-Ntamack, story of a duel well on its way to captivate French rugby
To meet this challenge, UBB will once again count on Matthieu Jalibert, the opening half who will face his competitor in blue Romain Ntamack.
Efficient at the foot (7 of 8 in play-offs against Clermont), Jalibert will carry the hopes of his team, inexperienced in the final phase, but supervised by a few experienced players like Rémi Lamerat or Louis Picamoles (on the bench).
"We will play our card to the bottom," promises Captain Jefferson Poirot.
THE MATCH SHEET
Toulouse - Bordeaux-Bègles, this Saturday (8:45 p.m.) at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq.
Referee: Tual Trainini.
Ramos - Lebel, Ahki, Chocobares, Kolbe - Ntamack (o), Dupont (m) - Elstadt, S. Tolofua, Cros - Ro.
Arnold, Kaino - Baille, J. Marchand (cap.), Faumuina.
Alternates: Mauvaka, Neti, Youyoutte, Flament, Miquel, Bales, Mallia, Ainu'u.
Buros - Lam, Lamerat, Seuteni, Cordero - Jalibert (o), Lucu (m) - Woki, Higginbotham, Petti - Douglas, Cazeaux - Poirot (cap.), Maynadier, Cobilas. Replacements: Lamothe, Kaulashvili, Jolmes, Picamoles, Lesgourgues, Uberti, Dubié, Tameifuna.