Heineken Cup final match preview: Clermont Auvergne v Toulon
Last Updated: 18/05/13 4:38pm
There will be new name engraved on the Heineken Cup trophy on Saturday when Toulon take on Clermont in an all-French affair at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Live on Sky Sports 1HD from 4pm, both sides are appearing in their first Heineken Cup final for the chance to become just the third French club to claim European club rugby's top prize, following Brive and Toulouse on the honours roll.
And few would deny that the two best teams in the competition have made the final.
Clermont, who defeated Munster 16-10 in their semi-final, are aiming to become the first team to secure the silverware by winning every game along the way.
They have averaged over 33 points in their eight matches, while Toulon are around the 29 point mark.
But there is little to choose between the sides - Clermont won 24-21 in the first Top 14 meeting this season, while the pair shared the spoils in a 26-26 stalemate in Marseille last month.
With soggy conditions expected, the battle of the all-international front-rows could prove pivotal, while among Clermont's backline, Napolioni Nalaga is the tournament's top try-scorer with seven touchdowns.
Former England international Jonny Wilkinson will be the key man for Toulon, who are aiming to lift their first major trophy since winning the French championship back in 1992.
Wilkinson, 33, kicked all 24 points in Toulon's semi-final success against Saracens.
Toulon have named the same matchday 22 that beat Sarries with Danie Rossouw passed fit to start in the back-row and Frederic Michalak on the bench.
Clermont give Gerhard Vosloo a start ahead of Julien Bardy at openside flanker, whilst Aurélien Rougerie will start at outside centre despite doubts over his fitness earlier in the week.
Clermont: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 Aurélien Rougerie (c), 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Naipolioni Nalaga, 10 Brock James, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Gerhard Vosloo, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Thomas Domingo.
Replacements:16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Clement Ric, 19 Julien Pierre, 20 Julien Bardy, 21 Ludovic Radosavljevic, 22 David Skrela, 23 Regan King.
Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Rudi Wulf, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Alexis Palisson, 10 Jonny Wilkinson (c), 9 Sébastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Juan Fernandez Lobbe, 6 Danie Rossouw, 5 Nick Kennedy, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Sebastien Bruno, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Jean-Charles Orioli, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Davit Kubriashvili, 19 Joe van Niekerk, 20 Steffon Armitage, 21 Maxime Mermoz, 22 Frederic Michalak, 23 Jocelino Suta.
What they said...
Clermont's Nathan Hines:
"Playing against Toulon, it's all about pressure. They have strong forwards and power-runners, so there's danger pretty much everywhere. If we can cope with the pressure, stay out of our own half and keep them in theirs, then like in any rugby game, you're on your way to making it easier for yourself."
Toulon's Juan Martin Fernandez-Lobbe:
"We must remain calm and believe in ourselves because Clermont are an extremely strong team. In such matches, every single detail counts - starting with mental strength."
Heineken Cup Final
Jonny Wilkinson has capped a triumphant Heineken Cup campaign with Toulon by being named European player of the year.
Donncha O'Callaghan remained unapologetic as Munster put efficiency before entertainment to beat Toulouse.
Two giants of European rugby go head-to-head in the Heineken Cup final at a sold-out Millennium Stadium on Saturday.