Heineken Cup 2014: Toulon vs. Leinster Live Stream, Key Battles and Preview

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistApril 6, 2014

With Munster, Clermont and Saracens already booking their spots in this season's Heineken Cup semi-finals, Toulon and Leinster meet on Sunday in an attempt to decide who completes the last four.

Both teams have very respectable credentials in Europe. Toulon stand as the reigning champions of the competition. Meanwhile, it wasn't so long ago that Leinster sealed back-to-back triumphs in Europe's most prestigious tournament.

The visiting outfit make their way to the Stade Felix Mayol with 11 of their starting XV having featured in the Ireland squad that lifted the 2014 Six Nations trophy.

Ahead of another epic crunch between Irish and French representatives, here's a look at some of the key head-to-head battles that are likely to decide the tie, as well as all the essential viewing information.


Date: Sunday, April 6

Time: 4:30 p.m. BST/11:30 a.m. ET

Live Stream: Sky Go app (subscription required)

TV Info: Sky Sports 3 (UK)


Key Battles

Mathieu Bastareaud vs. Brian O'Driscoll

A re-enactment of the same head-to-head that had a great bearing in deciding who won this year's Six Nations championship, Brian O'Driscoll will once again look to limit the physicality of Mathieu Bastareaud in France.

Last weekend, O'Driscoll was vital in helping his province to a morale-boosting win over Munster in the Pro12, with The Score's Murray Kinsella showing just one snapshot of what made the centre's presence so felt:

Even in his older age, the string-pulling habits of Ireland's departing legend are so vivid at the club level, and Bastareaud must do more than simply apply his frame in an offensive sense, where restricting the influence of O'Driscoll will also be key to a home victory.


Jonny Wilkinson vs. Jimmy Gopperth

Jimmy Gopperth has been preferred to Ian Madigan for the trip to France on Sunday, with Leinster opting for experience instead of the latter's flair potential.

And on the other side of the pitch, it's another veteran of the game as Jonny Wilkinson will look to once again lead Toulon with both the boot and through his hands.

Gopperth has started in four of his six Heineken Cup outings this season, but this weekend's examination will be far greater than anything Castres, Northampton or Ospreys will have been able to muster in the pool phase.

Leinster enter a cauldron atmosphere on Sunday, but the nerves will be greatly settled if Gopperth can pin the home outfit back with his territory kicking, preventing Toulon from developing momentum with ball in hand.


Carl Hayman vs. Cian Healy

Making his return to fitness after suffering an ankle injury in recent weeks, Cian Healy is a welcome addition to Matt O'Connor's line-up, which promises to give the visitors a massive boost at the set piece.

The loosehead showed over the course of this year's victorious Six Nations campaign precisely what an impact he can have when scrummaging, but a fierce test of his skills awaits at the Stade Mayol.

New Zealand's Carl Hayman may be the more seasoned of the pair at 34 years of age, but his time in the Top 14 has shown what an impact he can have both in the loose and in those more intimate settings.

Both props have the potential to be marauding, mobile monoliths on their day, and it's likely that both teams will look to utilise their respective wrecking balls as often as possible.