Winner takes all against Toulouse

Tigers warm up against Toulouse in the first round match

It goes without saying that there will be a real buzz around a sold out Welford Road on Sunday.

To end our Pool Two Heineken Cup campaign with a winner-takes-all game against a side like Toulouse should create a cracking atmosphere.

If we win, we will go through the quarter-finals. If we lose, we are out. It’s as simple as that.

I genuinely believe Welford Road is a huge factor for us. We don’t lose there very often as our record shows in the last 18 months.

It’s a great ground to play rugby at the best of times but the big days in the Heineken Cup always create a special atmosphere with 24,000 people going mad.

With that support behind us, we feel that we can beat anyone on our home turf – even a side that has been as successful in the competition as Toulouse.

It’s already knock-out rugby for us and Toulouse now.

Everyone gets a bit more jittery when everything is on the line and that adds to the belief that anything can happen.

They beat us 23-9 at their place at the start of the competition and we were all disappointed with the result because we stuck to our game plan in the opening 35 minutes. We were ahead and had made them look very ordinary.

But they got a try to change the game and then, in the second half, we gave fly-half Luke McAllister several chances to kick from 40 metres out and he took the game away from us.

Because of his big boot, discipline will be massive this weekend and we have to make sure that we play in the right areas.

If we can get the job done and win our pool, we are likely to be away in the last eight.

And while we would obviously like to be at home for the reasons I have already mentioned, we are not shy of going away in big games and getting a result.

We beat Gloucester at Kingsholm in the Premiership semi-final a few years ago when nobody gave us a chance.

And we also beat Cardiff at the Millennium Stadium in the semi-final of the Heineken Cup back in 2009.

We are confident wherever we go that, if we can play our game, we are in with a chance.

Let’s beat Toulouse first though. That’s a big enough hurdle in itself.

I heard a quote this week that seems to sum up perfectly the nature of Sunday's game.

"There is no next time, no time-outs and no second chances. Sometimes, it's now or never."

Bring it on.


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