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Challenge Cup, Round four - teams and predictions

FRIDAY PREVIEW: South African coach Sean Everitt has given his team a mandate when Edinburgh take on Scarlets in the Challenge Cup Round Four match on Friday.

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Rather than concerning themselves with what might happen in other matches in Pool Three, the Edinburgh boss said his charges need to focus on a win against Scarlets in Wales.

If the Scottish club secure a win over bottom of the pool Scarlets, it won’t matter what happens in the game between Black Lion and Clermont Auvergne on Saturday.

Black Lion, the Georgian club, are one point behind Edinburgh in fifth place.

“It’s a big competition for us,” said Everitt. “We all want to be part of a winning group and winning every game is our goal.

“This team needs to win on Friday. We know that we’re good enough and it’s about us concentrating on our performance and not worrying about the outcome.”

Everitt will be seeking an improvement on last weekend’s 20-21 home loss to pool leaders Gloucester but will be without prop Robin Hislop, back Wes Goosen and centre Mark Bennett due to injury.

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“Saturday brought back memories of the Benetton game when we did everything to win it except on the scoreboard,” he said.

“I think it’s those soft moments that are hurting us. For me, it’s just a little bit frustrating. When we attacked, we attacked well. This team has got so much more to offer.”

*In Friday’s other match, Gloucester have to put on a brave performance as they deal with the loss of star wing Louis Rees-Zammit to the NFL in the week before the important home game against Castres Olympique.

Although the Premiership club have already qualified for the Round of 16, having won all three of their Pool Three games to move two points clear of their rivals, they still have to fight for a home draw.

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The sides are just two points clear Castres Olympique and ASM Clermont Auvergne.

“Ultimately, you are in three competitions and to be in the knockout stages of any of them is great,” Gloucester Director of Rugby George Skivington said after last weekend’s 21-20 win at Edinburgh.

“To get a trophy would be outstanding. If we can get a home draw in the knockout rounds, that would be massive for us.”

Since then, however, has come the stunning news that his Welsh international flyer has accepted an invitation to compete for a place on the NFL International Player Pathway.

“It caught us a little off-guard,” Skivington told BBC Radio Gloucestershire.

“Zam is a world-class player, so it’s not something I’ve planned for, not something I’ve got an instant answer as to where we go with it.

“From that point of view, I’ll assess where we are now, but we are blessed with a very talented back three and some good numbers in there, so it doesn’t drastically change anything.”

All of Friday’s teams and predictions follow below 

Scarlets v Edinburgh
(Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli – Kick-off: 20.00; 20.00 GMT)

Prediction
@rugby365com: Edinburgh by five points

Teams:

Scarlets: 15 Ioan Nicholas, 14 Steff Evans, 13 Joe Roberts, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 Ryan Conbeer, 10 Ioan Lloyd, 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Vaea Fifita, 7 Dan Davis, 6 Ben Williams, 5 Jac Price, 4 Alex Craig, 3 Harri O’Connor, 2 Ryan Elias (captain), 1 Steff Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Eddie Swart, 17 Kemsley Mathias, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Shaun Evans, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Charlie Titcombe, 23 Tomi Lewis

Edinburgh: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Chris Dean, 13 Matt Currie, 12. James Lang, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Ben Healy, 9 Ben Vellacott, 8 Bill Mata, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Luke Crosbie, 5 Grant Gilchrist (captain), 4 Sam Skinner, 3 WP Nel, 2 Dave Cherry, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Angus Williams, 19 Glen Young, 20 Jamie Ritchie, 21 Tom Dodd, 22 Ali Price, 23. Cameron Scott

Referee: Sara Cox (England)
Assistant referees: Harry Walbaum (England) & Paul Dix (England)
TMO: Dean Richards (England)

Glouceseter v Castres Olympique
(Kingsholm Stadium, England – Kick-off: 20.00; 21.00 French time, 20.00 GMT)

Prediction
@rugby365com: Gloucester by three points

Teams:

Gloucester: 15 Santiago Carreras, 14 Jonny May, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Seb Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Caolan Englefield, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Ruan Ackermann (captain), 6 Jack Clement, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Freddie Clarke, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 George McGuigan, , 1 Jamal Ford-Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Seb Blake, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Ciaran Knight, 19 Albert Tuisue, 20 Lewis Ludlow, 21 Steve Varney, 22 Max Llewellyn, 23 Josh Hathaway.

Castres Olympique: 15 Geoffrey Palis, 14 Martin Laveau, 13 Adrien Seguret, 12 Andrea Cocagi, 11 Nathanael Hulleu, 10 Pierre Popelin, 9 Santiago Arata, 8 Abraham Papalii, 7 Nick Champion de Crespigny, 6. Mathieu Babillot (Captain), 5 Tom Staniforth, 4 Gauthier Maravat, 3 Aurelien Azar, 2 Gaetan Barlot, 1 Wayan de Benedittis.
Replacements: 16 Pierre Colonna, 17 Antoine Tichit, 18 Esteban Talalua, 19 Florent Vanverberghe, 20 Yann Peysson, 21 Jeremy Fernandez, 22 Vilimoni Botitu, 23 Josaia Raisuqe

Referee: Eoghan Cross (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Robbie Jenkinson (Ireland) & Tomas O’Sullivan (Ireland)
TMO: Leo Colgan (Ireland)

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