Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

King Calls upon Exiles to Defend for Their Lives; Prize Guy: Alex King Lifted the Heineken Cup with Wasps Last Year, and Says London Irish Can Shock Toulouse to Reach This Season's Final

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

King Calls upon Exiles to Defend for Their Lives; Prize Guy: Alex King Lifted the Heineken Cup with Wasps Last Year, and Says London Irish Can Shock Toulouse to Reach This Season's Final

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Jones

LONDON IRISH have been told they need to produce "the defensiveperformance of their lives" to have any hope of defeating threetimes championsToulouse in Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final at Twickenham.

Alex King, who collected his second winners medal in the competition withLondon Wasps last year, is now part of the Clermont Auvergne squad that shockedFrench rugby last weekend by emerging 23-11 winners in Toulouse.

And now King has mapped out the successful Clermont game plan which could seethe Irish produce an upset and reach their first Cup final.

King, who moved to Clermont last summer, said: "To beat Toulouse you need tohave the defensive game of your lives because they have such impressive strikepower and physicality.

If you allow them to dictate play, then you are left chasing shadows.

"We set the tone for our victory from the first minute and anyone who watchedthat opening quarter will have been amazed at the ferocity of the battle forpossession. We won every collision and dominated the contact area.

"The breakdown was just one of the key areas we pinpointed where we feltToulouse could be vulnerable." According to King, Clermont also picked out theToulouse half-back pairing of Jean-Baptiste Elissalde and All Blacks scrum-halfByron Kelleher.

"Elissalde is an outstanding scrumhalf but they are using him at No10 toaccommodate Kelleher," he said. "When a player like Elissalde, no matter howtalented, is operating out of position then he can be targeted.

"We put so much pressure on him that things behind the scrum started to unraveland he missed three drop goal attempts. He didn't get their back line going atall, which was a blessing given the massive pool of talent they possess."

Clermont's success last weekend also involved matching Toulouse in the lineout,which was the trigger for so many of their attacks. …

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