CHAMPIONS CUP: YOUR TEAM-BY-TEAM WEEKEND GUIDE
Pool 1: Toulouse v Saracens, Stade Ernest Wallon, 1pm, (Sky Sports).
Pool winners and leading qualifiers Saracens have the luxury of making wholesale changes for the trip to the four-time Heineken Cup champions. Wing Chris Ashton is an enforced absentee after receiving a lengthy ban for making contact with Luke Marshall’s eyes in last week’s 33-17 demolition of Ulster at Allianz Park. Only left wing Chris Wyles is retained from last Saturday’s backline while lock George Kruis and blindside flanker Michael Rhodes are the only survivors from the pack.
It’s also all change for down and out Toulouse following their heavy defeat at fellow Top 14 side Oyonnax.
Clement Poitrenaud at full-back and fly-half Luke McAlister are the only backs remaining in situ while Paul Perez shifts from midfield to the left wing. There are five changes in the forwards where Gurthro Steenkamp and Corey Flynn boost the front row while returning lock Patricio Albacete takes over the captaincy from the absent Thierry Dusautoir, who vacates the number seven jersey for Imanol Harinordoquy.
C Poitrenaud; V Clerc, T Flood, F Fritz, P Perez; L McAlister, JM Doussain; G Steenkamp, C Flynn, N Tialata, R Millo-Chluski, P Albacete - captain, Y Camara, I Harinordoquy, G Galan.
C Tolofua, C Baille, G Muller, J Tekori, G Lamboley, D Mele, G Fickou, M Médard.
A Goode; D Taylor, M Bosch, B Barritt - captain, C Wyles; C Hodgson, N de Kock; R Barrington, S Brits, J Figallo, J Hamilton, G Kruis, M Rhodes, J Burger, J Wray.
George, M Vunipola, P du Plessis, H Smith, B Vunipola, B Spencer, O Farrell, B Ransom.
N Owens (Wales).
Pool 5: Bath v Toulon, Recreation Ground, 3.15pm, (BT Sport).
Reigning champions Toulon still need to nail down pool victory and need to outperform Ospreys in Pool 2 to secure a home quarter-final.
They dug deep to beat Wasps at home last week and have made four changes for the trip to England to face already eliminated Bath.
Mike Ford’s side crashed out with a 25-11 loss to an exciting young Leinster side at the RDS last week and the director of rugby has retained just lock Dom Day and No.8 Leroy Houston from the pack which travelled to Dublin. Matt Banahan is the only omission from the backline, his place on the left wing handed to Horacio Agulla.
A Watson; S Rokoduguni, J Joseph, K Eastmond, H Agulla; G Ford - captain, C Cook; N Auterac, R Batty, H Thomas, C Ewels, D Day, D Denton, G Mercer, L Houston.
T Dunn, N Catt, D Wilson, T Ellis, M Garvey, A Fa’osiliva, R Priestland, O Devoto.
J O’Connor; J Tuisova, M Mermoz, M Nonu, B Habana; Q Cooper, S Tillous-Borde; F Fresia, G Guirado, L Chilachava, J Suta - captain, S Manoa, J Smith, S Armitage, D Vermeulen.
JC Orioli, X Chiocci, M Saulo, M Gorgodze, R Taofifenua, M Bastareaud, E Escande, T Lassale.
J Lacey (Ireland).
Pool 3: Scarlets v Northampton Saints, Parc y Scarlets, 5.30pm, (Sky Sports).
Former Munster back JJ Hanrahan drops to the Northampton bench as Stephen Myler is restored at fly-half to lead the Saints’ bid for runner-up spot. The change is one of four changes to the visiting backline following last week’s 19-15 home win over Glasgow with Harry Mallinder, last-gap try-scoring hero at Franklin’s Gardens, one of the incoming quartet at inside centre. Saints also recall Sam Dickinson at No.8 Scarlets will be looking to restore pride following their heavy defeat to Racing 92 in Paris last weekend and hand 21-year-old Will Boyde a European debut at openside flanker as Aaron Shingler switches back to his favoured blindside flank.
Head coach Wayne Pivac makes three changes to the backline, introducing Aled Thomas at fly-half, from where Steve Shingler moves along to No.12 with Tom Williams returning from injury to the right wing.
M Collins; T Williams, R King, S Shingler, DTH van der Merwe; A Thomas, G Davies; P John, K Owens - captain, S Lee, T Price, M Paulino, A Shingler, W Boyde, M Allen.
K Myhill, D Evans, R Jones, L Rawlins, T Phillips, A Davies, J Lewis, S Hughes.
B Foden; J Elliott, G Pisi, H Mallinder, G North; S Myler, T Kessell; A Waller, D Hartley - captain, P Hill, C Lawes, C Day, J Gibson, T Wood, S Dickinson.
M Haywood, E Waller, G Denman, M Paterson, J Fisher, L Dickson, JJ Hanrahan, L Burrell.
P Gauzere (France).
Pool 3: Glasgow Warriors v Racing 92, Rugby Park, 5.30pm, (Sky Sports).
No Dan Carter this week for Pool 3 winners Racing. The All Black legend started at inside centre last week for the Parisians as they ran riot at home to Scarlets in an eight-try, 64-14 mauling. Both he and former Munster centre Casey Laulala, a hat-trick scorer against the Welsh region, are rested as two of 10 changes.
Third-placed Glasgow, still with a slim chance of a best runner-up spot, have been forced away from their Scotstoun Stadium home due to a waterlogged surface and must play this tie on the 4G pitch at Kilmarnock’s Rugby Park. Scotland winger Tommy Seymour returns following a hamstring injury, replacing Sean Lamont while the right wing birth sees Taqele Naiyaravoro comes in for Lee Jones following last week’s narrow loss at Northampton and Leone Nakarawa moves from the second-row to No.8.
S Hogg; T Naiyaravoro, A Dunbar, S Johnson, T Seymour; F Russell, A Price; A Allan, S Mamukashvili, S Puafisi, G Peterson, J Gray - captain, J Eddie, S Favaro, L Nakarawa.
J Malcolm, J Yanuyanutawa, Z Fagerson, S Cummings, C Fusaro, G Hart, D Weir, L Jones.
B Dulin; L Dupichot, H Chavancy, A Dumoulin, M Andreu; R Tales, M Machenaud - captain; J Brugnaut, C Chat, L Ducalcon, L Charteris, F van der Merwe, W Lauret, B Le Roux, C Masoe.
V Lacombe, D Khinchagishvili, C Gomes Sa, T Dubarry, J Kruger, X Chauveau, E Dussartre, B Dambielle.
W Barnes (England).
Pool 4: Stade Francais v Leicester Tigers, Stade Jean Bouin, 1pm, (BT Sport).
Leicester have recalled Telusa Veainu, Matt Smith and Lachlan McCaffrey for the Paris clash. Tigers are already assured of top spot in Pool 4 after five wins in five games and will be among the top three seeds in the quarter-final. French champions Stade are chasing a quarter-final place as one of the best three pool runners-up. Veainu comes in on the wing for Tigers after sitting out the win over Benetton Treviso last Saturday, while Smith lines up alongside Manu Tuilagi at centre, and McCaffrey returns in the back row.
Marcos Ayerza, who started among the replacements against Treviso, returns to the front row for his 60th appearance for the club in Europe.
For Stade, Jérémy Sinzelle returns on the wing as Waisea and Jonathan Danty move inisde a position to 13 and 12 respectively. Jules Plisson takes over from Morné Steyn at fly-half. Raphael Lakafia returns to the loose trio while Hugh Pyle is added to the second row and Laurent Sempéré starts at hooker.
STADE FRANÇAIS PARIS:
H Bonneval; J Sinzelle, W Vuidarvuwalu, J Danty, D Camara; J Plisson, J Dupuy; Z Taulafo, L Sempéré, R Slimani, H Pyle, P Gabrillagues, J Ross, R Lakafia, S Parisse (c).
L Panis, E Felsina, P Alo Emile, P Papé, A Burban, J Tomas, M Steyn, G Doumayrou.
M Tait; A Thompstone, M Tuilagi, M Smith, T Veainu; F Burns, B Youngs; M Ayerza, T Youngs (c), D Cole, D Barrow, G Kitchener, M Fitzgerald, T Croft, L McCaffrey.
H Thacker, L Mulipola, F Balmain, S De Chaves, L Pearce, S Harrison, ThoTmas Bell, P Betham.
C Clancy (Ireland).
Pool 2: Exeter Chiefs v Ospreys, Sandy Park Stadium, 3.15pm, (BT Sport).
Wales flanker Dan Lydiate has failed to overcome a neck injury for Ospreys’ crucial European Champions Cup clash at Exeter. But Moldovan prop Dmitri Arhip is back after a hamstring injury and takes over from Wales tight-head Aaron Jarvis. Wales tight-head Tom Francis is omitted from an Exeter team showing 13 changes from their defeat in Bordeaux. Ospreys top Pool 2, but a big win in the final round could mean Exeter reaching the quarter-finals. Apart from Arhip’s inclusion, Ospreys have stuck with the starting line-up team that beat Clermont Auvergne 21-13 last weekend. Jarvis’ demotion means Ma’afu Fia dropping off the bench in the only other match day squad change by Ospreys boss Steve Tandy.
“We’ve worked extremely hard to put ourselves into the position we are in going into the final round of fixtures knowing that we have our fate in our own hands. Win and we go through to the quarter-finals,” said Tandy.
P Dollman; O Woodburn, M Campagnaro, I Whitten, J Short; G Steenson, D Lewis; A Hepburn, J Yeandle (c), A Brown, J Hill, G Parling, K Horstmann, D Armand, T Waldrom.
D Evans; H Dirksen, J Spratt, J Matavesi, E Walker; D Biggar, B Leonard; P James, S Baldwin, D Arhip, L Ashley, A-Wyn Jones (c), S Underhill, J Tipuric, J King.
J Garces (France).
Pool 2: ASM Clermont Auvergne v Bordeaux-Bègles, Stade Marcel-Michelin, 3.15pm, (Sky Sports).
Clermont have made five changes. Hosea Gear takes over from David Strettle in the only change to the Clermont back-line, while Alexandre Lapandry wears the number seven shirt as he replaces the suspended Vito Kolelishvili. There are three changes in the tight five. Paul Jedrasiak is the new lock alongside Sébastian Vahaamahina, while Thomas Domingo and John Ulugia come in at loosehead prop and hooker respectively. Bordeaux-Bègles on the other hand make a massive 13 changes to their team from the win over Exeter last weekend. Fiji wing Metuisela Talebula is the only survivor in the back-line as Adam Ashley-Cooper is rested.
In come France winger Sofiane Guitoune and France fly-half Lionel Beauxis. Luke Braid remains in the forward pack at blindside flanker with Peter Saili and Matthew Clarkin joining him in the back row. Australia international Sekope Kepu also returns at tighthead prop.
ASM CLERMONT AUVERGNE:
S Spedding; H Gear, J Davies, W Fofana, N Nakaitaci; C Lopez, M Parra; T Domingo, J Ulugia, D Kotze, P Jedrasiak, S Vahaamahina, D Chouly (c), A Lapandry, F Lee.
D Domvo; M Talebulamaijaina, JB Dubié, R Lonca, S Guitoune; L Beauxis, B Serin; S Taofifenua, C Maynadier, S Kepu, B Botha, A Jaulhac, L Braid, P Saili, M Clarkin (c).
JP Doyle (England)
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