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Three-time European champions RC Toulon will be the favourites when they welcome Benetton Rugby in the EPCR Challenge Cup Round of 16 on Saturday.
Although it is the first time the sides have met in the competition, they met twice in the Heineken Champions Cup pool stage in 2017/18, with the French side winning both encounters, including a 36-0 home win.
Toulon topped Pool A to qualify for the knockout stages, while Benetton finished third in Pool B.
The match kicks off at 20:00 (UK & Irish time) at Stade Felix Mayol and is available to watch on FR 4 and beIN SPORTS.
Stepping up when it matters 💪@BenettonRugby claimed some lovely scores to take them through to the knockout stages 🔥
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) April 12, 2022
Other key facts:
- Toulon have won their last 15 home games in the EPCR Challenge Cup, by an average margin of 23 points; they have never lost against a team from Italy in the competition (winning seven and drawing one).
- Benetton have won only four of their last 13 away games in the EPCR Challenge Cup, losing nine – but those four wins all came in France, each by margins of more than ten points.
- Toulon lost their most recent match in the EPCR Challenge Cup, against Biarritz Olympique last weekend, but they have not lost back-to-back games in the competition since 2008/09 (v Bristol Bears and Northampton Saints).
- Benetton have won five of their last seven games against TOP 14 opposition in the EPCR Challenge Cup (losing two), but both defeats in that run came on their last two trips to France (v Montpellier and Lyon).
- Toulon have slotted 93% of their kicks at goal in the EPCR Challenge Cup this season, the best rate of any side in the competition, missing just one of their 14 place kicks.
- Toulon (15) and Benetton (14) are two of just four teams to average 15 missed tackles or fewer per game in the EPCR Challenge Cup this season, alongside Saracens (12) and the Dragons (14).
- Benetton have an average ruck speed of 2.8 seconds, the best rate of any team in the EPCR Challenge Cup this season, with 71% of their rucks being completed in under three seconds.
- Gervais Cordin (Toulon) beat 10 defenders against Biarritz Olympique last weekend, the most of any player during Round 5 and one of only three occasions that a player has beaten more than ten defenders in a match in the competition this season (also Taine Basham and Duhan van der Merwe, both in Round 1).
- Federico Ruzza claimed 12 lineouts (including two steals) against USAP last weekend, the most by any player in an EPCR Challenge Cup game this season; overall, he has made the most lineout takes of any player this season (32), including four steals, also a competition-high.
Benetton’s Edoardo Padovani: “It will be an intense match, our focus will be to concede as little as possible to the opposing team, because Toulon has great individuals and unpredictable and dangerous players. So we have to reduce errors as much as possible, producing a great physical and tactical test.”
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RC Toulon finished strongly to defeat Benetton Rugby 36-17 at Stade Félix Mayol on Saturday and set up a home quarter-final against London Irish in the EPCR Challenge Cup.
Toulon led for all but brief periods of the Round of 16 tie and made the most of their chances as fly-half Louis Carbonel kicked 21 points.
Benetton briefly levelled at 17-17 in the second half, but they were well beaten in the end.
Tries from Gabin Villiere and Charles Ollivon, plus seven points from the boot of Carbonel, were the rewards for Toulon’s first-half efforts.
Gabin Villiere opens the scoring in style for @RCTofficiel 🔥
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) April 16, 2022
Benetton had opened the scoring with a Rhyno Smith penalty and began the second half well, despite having had prop Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro sin-binned.
Tommaso Menoncello and Monty Ioane went over, with Smith converting both, however, Carbonel kicked Toulon 20-17 in front almost immediately.
Four more Carbonel penalties put Toulon in the ascendancy, before their victory was confirmed by Jules Coulon’s late try, which Carbonel converted for good measure.