Heineken Cup Pool 2: Toulon v Exeter match preview

Last Updated: 14/12/13 9:31am

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Exeter face a must-win return fixture against defending European champions Toulon at Stade Felix Mayol on Saturday.

After last weekend's narrow 14-9 loss at home, the Chiefs slipped to third place in Pool 2.

They are now tasked with having to cause a major upset in France in order to keep their hopes of progression alive.

Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has made six changes to his starting XV from that of a week ago.

James Hanks and Don Armand come in for Damian Welch and Ben White whilst behind Haydn Thomas and Henry Slade are the new half-back duo, Tom James starts at wing ahead of Matt Jess and Ian Whitten is preferred to Jason Shoemark in the centre.

Baxter is aware that a win is vital for his side's prospects in the competition and hopes the travelling Chiefs fans will play their part.

No mistakes

"What you have to do is try and keep everything in your hands for as long as possible," he explained.

"The reality for us is that if we lose again qualification slips out of our hands, so I think we have to keep things exciting and in our hands for as long as possible. We maybe let an opportunity slip here last week, but if we get an opportunity this week we can't afford to let it slip this time.

"Having the backing of our fans over there will be fantastic. It's brilliant when your hear the Tomahawk Chop in the stands because sometime you wonder just how they make so much noise.

"At the same time, though, this is kind of what the whole journey has been about for us. It's gradually moving forward and achieving new things for not only our players, but also our supporters to experience.

"This is what it is all about and I'm delighted we have so many fans going over. We have worked hard for this to happen and when opportunities like this come along, you kind of have to make the most of them."

Meanwhile, Toulon have made several changes to their line-up for this reverse fixture.

Bryan Habana and Bakkies Botha are not involved in the matchday 23, while Jonny Wilkinson is on the replacements bench as Matt Giteau moves into the number 10 jersey.

Carl Hayman comes in at tighthead prop instead of Martin Castrogiovanni while Jean-Charles Orioli replaces the injured Craig Burden, who suffered a torn bicep last weekend.

Toulon: 15 Mitchell, 14 Palisson, 13 Bastareaud, 12 Mermoz, 11 Smith, 10 Giteau, 9 Tillous-Borde; 1 Fresia, 2 Orioli, 3 Hayman, 4 Suta, 5 Williams, 6 Smith, 7 Armitage, 8 Masoe (c).

Replacements: 16 Noirot, 17 Chiocci, 18 Castrogiovanni, 19 Bruni, 20 Armitage, 21 Wilkinson, 22 Michalak, 23 Mikautadze.

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Arscott, 14 Nowell, 13 Whitten, 12 Dollman, 11 James, 10 Slade, 9 Thomas; 1 Moon, 2 Yeandle, 3 Tui, 4 Mumm (c), 5 Hanks, 6 Johnson, 7 Armand, 8 Ewers.

Replacements: 16 Whitehead, 17 Sturgess, 18 Brown, 19 Welch, 20 White, 21 Chudley, 22 Sweeney, 23 Hill.

Watch Toulon v Exeter Chiefs live on Sky Sports 2 from 1.35pm on Saturday

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