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Dewi Morris: will Exeter's running game be able to match Toulon's power game?

Dewi Morris - Dewi Morris Posted 6th December 2013 view comments

We are heading into an exciting part of the Heineken Cup - these back-to-back games really sort out who is going where and I cannot wait.

My focus this weekend is on Pool 2 which is incredibly tight - you have Exeter and Toulon on six points and Cardiff and Glasgow on five -all are still battling it out to get to the play-off stages. I think two teams will come out of the Pool, but it is still an incredibly unpredictable one.

Ewers: big ball carrier for Exeter

Ewers: big ball carrier for Exeter

If Toulon play like they did against Cardiff in round two or like they did against Stade Francais over the weekend in the Top 14, then Exeter will put 25-30 points on them.

They were absolutely diabolical against Stade, it was a typical away performance from a French side - you expect them to be so much better because of the quality of their personnel. The scrums were a mess and Mathieu Basteraud was the only Toulon player who came off that field with any credit. I really cannot see them being that bad again though - they are a proud side with too many world-class players who will know that performance was just not good enough.

Sometimes they can play into the opposition's hand as they love to play the ball. All the rugby will come from Exeter while Toulon will be the tourniquet and try and squeeze the game out of the Chiefs.

Dewi Morris
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However saying that, I can see Exeter nicking this one. We know what Toulon are going to try and do - be physical and aim to get the penalties from the scrum - and when it is on they will have a go, but predominantly they will look for their points to come from Jonny Wilkinson's boot. Exeter could be the masters of their own downfall though - they do sometimes play a more risky game as Rob Baxter has tried to expand the way they play.

I'm all for it but sometimes I want them to use a bit more brake and a lot less accelerator. Sometimes they can play into the opposition's hand as they love to play the ball. All the rugby will come from Exeter while Toulon will be the tourniquet and try and squeeze the game out of the Chiefs.

Key men

It's a great opportunity for Exeter; they will really be looking forward to this game. Toulon have a star studded side but for me the one to watch on Saturday is Exeter's Jack Nowell - he has been tremendous for England U20's and I would give him a shot in the Six Nations. If he gets some good front foot ball from his forwards then he could have a real chance to shine. Dave Ewers is another Exeter player to watch out for. He is a big ball carrier for them and really needs to take it up for the Chiefs.

Tickets were sold out in half an hour for this game and I cannot wait. I have a lot of respect for Baxter and how he has developed the Chief's team spirit and always looks to bring in the right sort of player who fits into the team's ethos. It is their team spirit that burns bright against the individual power of the Toulon side.

I cannot see Exeter going down to Toulon and getting a win there but I do think they can do some damage to Toulon with a home victory at Sandy Park.

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