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Challenge Cup, Round Four - Teams and Predictions

SATURDAY AND SUNDAY PREVIEW: The Sharks and Cheetahs will be looking to follow in the Lions’ footsteps and secure their place in the Round of 16 of the Challenge Cup.


The Cheetahs will take on Oyonnax in France on Saturday, while the two other SA teams will play on Sunday. The Lions take on Ospreys in Johannesburg before the Sharks and Dragons battle it out in Newport.

The Sharks and Cheetahs are both in Pool One and both have a good chance of qualifying as they sit first and second in the pool at the moment.

For all their troubles, the Sharks need just one point to qualify and grab a home game in the Round of 16.

Despite last week’s emphatic victory over Oyonnax, Sharks Director of Rugby Neil Powell admits that his team can’t rest on their laurels for this final pool game.

“We have to actively go out there against the Dragons this week and go make it happen,” said Powell.

“We know the challenge we’re up against, not just the opposition but the weather conditions we will face in Wales where it’s mostly in the minuses.


“We’re happy to have a win, it was much needed, and while there were a lot of positives out of that game, there are things we still need to work on.

“It was a good foundation to build on for the game against the Dragons.”

On the conditions in Wales, Powell added: “It has been a challenging day or two.

“It is obviously not ideal conditions. It is bitterly cold and the field was still frozen this [Friday] afternoon when we tried to go on it.


“We know it was going to be uncomfortable for us this weekend and we need to create our own comfort in how we approach this game and almost embrace the fact that it is going to be cold, wet and there will probably be a storm as well.

“We have embraced the challenge and we still have one day left where we can fine-tune our plan.

“We expect it to be a physical battle with a lot of kicking as well as it is going to be a wet and windy game.”

The preview continues below…

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The Cheetahs will be desperate to bounce back from their first defeat in the tournament last week when they take on Oyonnax at Stade Charles Mathon.

They will take some comfort from the fact that two of the pool contenders, Section Paloise and Zebre Parma, who are both on eight log points, will face one another this weekend, which should strengthen the Free Staters’ chances of advancing to the play-offs.

However, a victory will be first prize to cement a spot in the Round of 16 and ensure they build winning momentum as the play-offs draw nearer.

Oyonnax, who are bottom of Pool One, suffered a 7-38 defeat to the Sharks in Durban last weekend. However, Cheetahs head coach Hawies Fourie is not reading too much into that game ahead of Saturday’s encounter.

“It is difficult to compare the Sharks game to the game that we will play. The conditions are just totally different,” said Fourie.

“It was quite warm and a nice day in Durban when they played over there and these teams struggle when they go to South Africa. They lose by big margins.

“Pau lost 5-45 to the Sharks if I remember correctly and they were able to beat us last week [in Amsterdam].

“It seems they [French teams] don’t take the away games too seriously, but at home with their supporters and in the conditions that they know, it will be a different ball game.

“So, I focussed more on the games that they played in France than the games that they played overseas.”

The Lions will also have their sights set firmly on a victory against Ospreys at Ellis Park following their defeat against Montpellier last week.

The Gauteng team have the peace of mind that they have already qualified for the Round of 16, but winning momentum will be vital to give them a handy nudge going into the play-off stages.

With both teams tied on nine log points with two victories in their three matches, and with the Ospreys having won only one match more than the Lions in the United Rugby Championship, it could be a spectacle.

The hosts, however, boast a better attacking record in the URC than the Ospreys, which is something they will want to take advantage of on Sunday.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s clash, Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen was wary of the tough weeks ahead for his side in all international competitions but backed his rotation policy, which sees players being rewarded for stellar performances.

“Ospreys have been going really well. Their attack is very good and their defence is probably the most improved in the competition,” he said.

“We really want to put in a big performance, especially at home.

“Looking at our roster in the next few weeks and the number of tough games coming up, it’s important for us to put up a good performance this week heading into a packed schedule of local URC derbies.

“Due to the performances last week in France, there are one or two rewards in the matchday 23 ahead of Sunday’s game and opportunities for those players to have another crack against Ospreys.”

See below for Saturday and Sunday’s predictions!

Saturday, January 20:

Black Lion v Clermont Auvergne
(Mikheil Meskhi Stadium, Tbilisi – Kick-off: 17.00; 14.00 CET; 13.00 GMT)


@rugby365com: Clermont Auvergne by nine points.


Black Lion: 15 Miriani Modebadze, 14 Akaki Tabutsadze, 13 Giorgi Kveseladze, 12 Merab Sharikadze (captain), 11 Sandro Todua, 10 Luka Matkava, 9 Giorgi Margalitadze, 8 Ilia Spanderashvili, 7 Sandro Mamamtavrishvili, 6 Luka Ivanishvili, 5 Mikheil Babunashvili, 4 Demuri Epremidze, 3 Giorgi Chkhartishvili, 2 Tengiz Zamtaradze, 1 Dato Abdushelishvili.
Replacements: 16 Irakli Kvatadze, 17 Nika Khatiashvili, 18 Bachuki Tchumbadze, 19 Nodar Cheishvili, 20 Giorgi Kervalishvili, 21 Alexander Jighauri, 22 Tornike Kakhoidze, 23 Luka Tsirekidze.

Clermont: 15 Alex Newsome, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Léon Darricarrere, 12 George Moala, 11 Joris Jurand, 10 Anthony Belleau, 9 Baptiste Jauneau, 8 Pita-Gus Sowakula, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Lucas Dessaigne, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Thibault Lanen, 3 Cristian Ojovan, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Etienne Falgoux (captain).
Replacements: 16 Robin Couly, 17 Giorgi Beria, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Killian Tixeront, 21 Sebastien Bezy, 22 Theo Giral, 23 Pierre Fouyssac.

Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Andrei Gheorghe (Romania), Franco Rosella (Italy)
TMO: Stefano Roscini (Italy)

Section Paloise v Zebre Parma
(Stade du Hameau, Pau – Kick-off: 14.00; 13.00 GMT)


@rugby365com: Section Paloise by seven points.


Section Paloise: 15 Theo Attissogbe, 14 Thomas Carol, 13 Samuel Ezeala, 12 Nathan Decron, 11 Aminiasi Tuimaba, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Thibault Daubagna, 8 Paulo Pelesasa, 7 Martin Puech (captain), 6 Lekima Tagitagivalu, 5 Fabrice Metz, 4 Guillaume Ducat, 3 Nicolas Corato, 2 Romain Ruffenach, 1 Facundo Gigena.
Replacements: 16 Lucas Rey, 17 Guram Papidze, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Sam Whitelock, 20 Thibaut Hamonou, 21 Reece Hewat, 22 Thomas Souverbie, 23 Axel Desperes.

Zebre: 15 Lorenzo Pani, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Luca Morisi (captain), 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Simone Gesi, 10 Giovanni Montemauri, 9 Gonzalo Garcia, 8 Davide Ruggeri, 7 Jacopo Bianchi, 6 Guido Volpi, 5 Andrea Zambonin, 4 Leonardo Krumov, 3 Matteo Nocera, 2 Marco Manfredi, 1 Luca Rizzoli.
Replacements: 16 Giampietro Ribaldi, 17 Danilo Fischetti, 18 Juan-Manuel Pitinari, 19 Matteo Canali, 20 Bautista Stavile Bravin, 21 Thomas Dominguez, 22 Geronimo Prisciantelli, 23 Scott Gregory.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Mike English (Wales), Ben Connor (Wales)
TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)

Oyonnax v Cheetahs
(Stade Charles Mathon, Oyonnax – Kick-off: 16.15; 17.15 SAST; 15.15 GMT)


@rugby365com: Cheetahs by three points.


Oyonnax: 15 Maxime Salles, 14 Daniel Ikpefan, 13 Leo Treilles, 12 Lucas Mensa, 11 Joe Ravouvou, 10 Domingo Miotti, 9 Charlie Cassang (captain), 8 Loic Godener, 7 Hugo Hermet, 6 Filimo Taofifenua, 5 Hugo Fabregue, 4 Ewan Johnson, 3 Irakli Mirtskhulava, 2 Manu Leiataua, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 Julien Ratajczak, 17 Adrien Bordenave, 18 Thibault Berthaud, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Ilan El Khattabi, 21 Jules Soulan, 22 Souleymane Coulibaly, 23 David Odiase.

Cheetahs: 15 Tapiwa Mafura, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 Evardi Boshoff, 12 Reinhardt Fortuin, 11 Munier Hartzenberg, 10 George Lourens, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Jeandré Rudolph, 7 Friedle Olivier, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Victor Sekekete (captain), 4 Rynier Bernardo, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Alulutho Tshakweni, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Carl Wegner, 20 Daniel Maartens, 21 Oupa Mohoje, 22 Rewan Kruger, 23 Abner van Reenen.

Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe (England)
Assistant Referees: George Selwood (England), Ethan Glass (Switzerland)
TMO: David Rose (England)

Benetton v Montpellier
(Stadio Monigo, Treviso – Kick-off: 16.15; 15.15 GMT)


@rugby365com: Benetton by six points.


Benetton: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Ignacio Mendy, 13 Tommaso Menoncello, 12 Malakai Fekitoa, 11 Onisi Ratave, 10 Tomas Albornoz, 9 Alessandro Garbisi, 8 Lorenzo Cannone, 7 Manuel Zuliani, 6 Alessandro Izekor, 5 Eli Snyman (captain), 4 Edoardo Iachizzi, 3 Giosue Zilocchi, 2 Bautista Bernasconi, 1 Thomas Gallo.
Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Mirco Spagnolo, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Federico Ruzza, 20 Sebastian Negri da Ollegio, 21 Michele Lamaro, 22 Andy Uren, 23 Jacob Umaga.

Montpellier: 15 Julien Tisseron, 14 Pierre Lucas, 13 Thomas Darmon, 12 Auguste Cadot, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Leo Coly, 8 Marco Tauleigne, 7 Clement Doumenc, 6 Florian Verhaeghe, 5 Paul Willemse (captain), 4 Bastien Chalureau, 3 Titi Lamositele, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Baptiste Erdocio.
Replacements: 16 Vano Karkadze, 17 Enzo Forletta, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Tyler DuGuid, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Louis Foursans-Bourdette, 22 Masi Dakuwaqa, 23 Anthony Bouthier.

Referee: Morne Ferreira (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Aimee Barrett-Theron (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

Sunday, January 21:

Lions v Ospreys
(Ellis Park, Johannesburg – Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00 UK & Ireland time; 13.00 GMT)


@rugby365com: Lions by 17 points.


Lions: 15 Quan Horn, 14 Richard Kriel, 13 Henco van Wyk, 12 Marius Louw (captain, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Gianni Lombard, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Emmanuel Tshituka, 6 JC Pretorius, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2 PJ Botha, 1 JP Smith.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Morgan Naudé, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Darrien Landsberg, 20 Hanru Sirgel, 21 Morne van den Berg, 22 Kade Wolhuter, 23 Erich Cronje.

Ospreys: 15 Iestyn Hopkins, 14 Mat Protheroe, 13 George North, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Keelan Giles, 10 Dan Edwards, 9 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 8 Morgan Morse, 7 Harri Deaves, 6 Will Hickey, 5 Adam Beard (captain), 4 James Ratti, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Rhys Henry.
Replacements: 16 Ethan Lewis, 17 Cam Jones, 18 Ben Warren, 19 Lewis Jones, 20 Tristan Davies, 21 Cameron Jones, 22 Jack Walsh, 23 Keiran Williams.

Referee: Jeremy Rozier (France)
Assistant referees: Evan Urruzmendi (France), Luc Ramos (France)
TMO: Patrick Dellac (France)

Perpignan v Newcastle Falcons
(Stade Aime Giral, Perpignan – Kick-off: 14.00; 13.00 UK & Ireland time; 13.00 GMT)


@rugby365com: Perpignan by nine points.


Perpignan: 15 Louis Dupichot, 14 Maxim Granell, 13 Job Poulet, 12 Apisai Naqalevu, 11 Lucas Dubois, 10 Matteo Rodor, 9 Sadek Deghmache, 8 Valentin Moro, 7 Kelian Galletier (captain), 6 Samuel M’Foudi, 5 Posolo Tuilagi, 4 Bastien Chinarro, 3 Nemo Roelofse, 2 Victor Montgaillard, 1 Akato Fakatika.
Replacements: 16 Vakhtang Jincharadze, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Tristan Labouteley, 20 Marvin Orie, 21 Mathieu Ugena, 22 Alexandre Perez, 23 Freddy Duguivalu.

Newcastle: 15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Ben Redshaw, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Cammy Hutchison, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Louie Johnson, 9 Josh Barton, 8 Freddie Lockwood, 7 Sam Cross, 6 Pedro Rubiolo, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 4 John Hawkins, 3 Murray McCallum, 2 Bryan Byrne (captain), 1 Adam Brocklebank.
Replacements: 16 Michael van Vuuren, 17 Mark Dormer, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 John Kelly, 20 Josh Bainbridge, 21 Hugh O’Sullivan, 22 Rory Jennings, 23 Ollie Spencer.

Referee: Federico Vedovelli (Italy)
Assistant referees: Alberto Favero (Italy), Riccardo Angelucci (Italy)
TMO: Stefano Penne (Italy)

Dragons v Sharks
(Rodney Parade, Newport – Kick-off: 17.30; 19.30 SAST; 17.30 GMT)


@rugby365com: Sharks by five points.


Dragons: 15 Cai Evans, 14 Rio Dyer, 13 Steff Hughes (captain), 12 Harri Ackerman, 11 Jared Rosser, 10 Will Reed, 9 Dane Blacker, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Ryan Woodman, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Leon Brown, 2 Bradley Roberts, 1 Rhodri Jones.
Replacements: 16 James Benjamin, 17 Rodrigo Martinez, 18 Luke Yendle, 19 George Young, 20 Taine Basham, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Joe Westwood, 23 Ewan Rosser.

Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Francois Venter, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 James Venter, 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Corne Rahl, 3 Hanro Jacobs, 2 Fez Mbatha, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 Tinotenda Mavesere, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Lionel Cronje, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg.

Referee: Adrien Marbot (France)
Assistant referees: Benoit Rousselet (France), Thomas Chereque (France)
TMO: Julien Castaignede (France)

Additional reporting: @ChallengeCup_, SA Rugby & URCSA

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