Champions Cup, Round four - teams and predictions
DO-OR-DIE: It’s all to play for at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday when the Stormers welcome Clermont Auvergne in Round Four of the Champions Cup.
After last weekend’s bonus-point win over London Irish in Brentford, the Stormers need just one point from their Pool A rematch with Clermont to seal a maiden play-off spot in the competition.
The last time these two sides met Clermont recorded a 24-14 win last month.
However, the hosts have the benefit of a terrific 28-14 win at London Irish in Round Three, while Clermont crashed to a 29-44 defeat at home to Leicester Tigers to slip to eighth, the last qualification place in the pool.
The encounter will be a massive challenge, something Stormers hooker Joseph Dweba knows all too well.
Dweba joined the Stormers from French Top 14 side Bordeaux-Begles last year and his knowledge of the French scrum culture stands the Stormers in good stead for a famous result in Cape Town, and to exact revenge for the first-round defeat in Clermont.
“Discipline cost us a little bit and we ended up losing the game, but we took confidence from that knowing we can compete with overseas teams, especially French teams,” Dweba said.
“Yes, we slipped up but from our own mistakes and hopefully this weekend we can fix up those errors and just keep on improving.
“Before we played against Clermont I told them that the French are quite proud of their scrums, big boys, big ball carriers, just passionate. But if you look at the first half against Clermont, we were actually stopping them; we were in the game up until the 60-something minute.
“But the little bit that I can share, and Deon Fourie was also there, we actually told the guys everything about what to expect.
“We’re happy to be back and in the sun, playing in front of our home crowd again. We missed them a lot being away for two weeks.”
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) January 20, 2023
Meanwhile, the Sharks travel to Twickenham to take on the Harlequins.
Quins have notched only one win so far in the competition and sit seventh in Pool A, the penultimate qualification slot and just two points ahead of ninth-placed Gloucester.
However, they were able to take plenty of positives away from their narrow 29-30 loss at Racing 92 last week – and will hope to put them into practice against a side who have reached the knockout stages.
“We would like to get some good points from this game.” Sharks Director of Rugby Neil Powell said.
“Think it is just to try and get ourselves as high as possible on the table so we can get a home Round of 16 and home quarterfinal match. It will certainly be a massive boost for our campaign
“Even from a Harlequins’ point of view there is a lot to play for and they will certainly be motivated.”
“So we are prepared for a massive battle.”
He added: “Harlequins in an 80-minute team. They love to attack and want the ball in hand, so it’s our responsibility to starve them of ball possession.
“Marcus Smith really contributes a lot to their attack and they are very unpredictable. ”
The Sharks enjoyed a thumping win in Durban in Round Three, taking Union Bordeaux-Bègles apart 32-3.
Northampton Saints, bottom of Champions Cup Pool B, have a hard task on their hands on Saturday, as they welcome defending champions Stade Rochelais.
The second-placed French club have already qualified for the knockout stages as a result of a 100 percent win record in the competition so far this season.
Saints, in contrast, have a solitary point to show for their efforts – from their 23-27 defeat at 14-man Munster last weekend – although they will be heartened by their second-half comeback at Thomond Park, having gone in 0-24 down at half-time.
Gloucester travel to Bordeaux as both sides will be looking to recover from heavy defeats last week.
Gloucester fell 14-49 at home to Leinster, while Bordeaux lost 3-32 at Sharks to leave both sides’ qualification hopes for the knockout stages in the balance.
Exeter Chiefs are already through to the knockout stages – and will look to thrill the home faithful as they welcome Pool A basement side Castres Olympique.
Their only defeat in the competition so far came last week at the hands of the Bulls, 28-39, though Jack Innard’s late try saw them come away with a crucial bonus point.
The Chiefs, who are looking to secure a top seeding for the knockout, will be reassured with the knowledge that they enjoyed a comfortable win in the reverse fixture last month, beating the Top 14 side 27-12.
Pool A leaders Leinster will look to underline their supremacy in this season’s Champions Cup so far when they host Racing 92 on Saturday.
While Ulster welcome Premiership side Sale Sharks.
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) January 20, 2023
On Sunday, there are three fixtures.
London Irish head to France looking for their first win of the season as they face Montpellier on Sunday.
The Irish fell to Montpellier in Round One, losing 27-32 at the Gtech Community Stadium, and have gone on to lose their next two games in Pool B
Both teams are looking to bounce back from defeats in Round Three, with Montpellier losing 29-35 at Ospreys, and Irish falling 14-28 at home to Stormers.
Munster are tasked with a trip to Pool B leaders Stade Toulousain as they look to secure their qualification.
Five-time champions Toulouse have three wins out of three, with a points difference of +53 so far this season. But Munster are coming off the back of a sound win at home, 27-23 over Northampton Saints despite Jack O’Donoghue’s early red card.
Munster have only lost one match so far in the pool stage but that was, of course, against Toulouse on the opening weekend of the competition, 18-13 at Thomond Park.
While Edinburgh host high-flying Saracens in the last match of the weekend.
Saturday, January 21
Harlequins v Sharks
(Twickenham Stoop, London – Kick-off 13.00; 15.00 SA Time; 13.00 GMT)
@rugby365com: Sharks by five points.
Harlequins: 15 Nick David, 14 Cadan Murley, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt (captain), 7 Will Evans, 6 Dino Lamb, 5 Irne Herbst, 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 George Head, 17 Fin Baxter, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Tom Lawday, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Tommy Allan, 23 Oscar Beard
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Marnus Potgieter, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Carlü Sadie, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Lionel Cronje, 23 Francois Vente
Referee: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)
Assistant referees: Craig Evans (Wales), Adam Jones (Wales)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Northampton v Stade Rochelais
(Franklin’s Gardens – Kick-off: 13.00; 14.00 French time, 13.00 GMT)
@rugby365com: Stade Rochelais by five points.
Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Tommy Freeman, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Lewis Ludlam (captain), 7 Aaron Hinkley, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 David Ribbans, 4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 3 Ehren Painter, 2 Robbie Smith, 1 Ethan Waller
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, 18 Alfie Petch, 19 Alex Coles, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Tom James, 22 Ollie Sleightholme, 23 James Ramm
La Rochelle: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 UJ Seuteni, 12 Jules Favre, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Antoine Hastoy, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Grégory Alldritt (captain), 7 Remi Bourdeau, 6 Levani Botia, 5 Rémi Picquette, 4 Romain Sazy, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Samuel Lagrange, 1 Reda Wardi
Replacements: 16 Quentin Lespiaucq Brettes, 17 Joel Sclavi, 18 Georges Henri Colombe, 19 Thomas Lavault, 20 Ultan Dillane, 21 Paul Boudehent, 22 Thomas Berjon, 23 Teddy Thomas
Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Eoghan Cross (Ireland), Dan Carson (Ireland)
TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)
Bordeaux v Gloucester
(Stade Chaban-Delmas – Kick-off: 16.15; 15.35 UK Time, 15.35 GMT)
@rugby365com: Bordeaux by 11 points.
Bordeaux: 15 Nans Ducuing, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Pablo Uberti, 12 Yoram Falatea-Moefana, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Jules Gimbert, 8 Caleb Timu, 7 Mahamadou Diaby (c), 6 Antoine Miquel, 5 Cyril Cazeaux, 4 Thomas Jolmes, 3 Sipili Falatea, 2 Connor Sa, 1 Ugo Boniface
Replacements: 16 Maxime Lamothe, 17 Jefferson Poirot, 18 Christopher Vaotoa, 19 Jandré Marais, 20 Renato Giammarioli, 21 Hugo Zabalza, 22 Matéo Garcia, 23 Jean-Baptiste Dubié
Gloucester: 15 George Barton, 14 Jonny May, 13 Giorgi Kveseladze, 12 Seb Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Billy Twelvetrees, 9 Stephen Varney, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Lewis Ludlow (c), 6 Jack Clement, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Cam Jordan, 3 Kirill Gotovtsev, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Seb Blake, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Freddie Clarke, 20 Freddie Thomas, 21 Charlie Chapman, 22 Jack Reeves, 23 Lloyd Evans
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Cole (Ireland), Paul Haycock (Ireland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)
Leinster v Racing 92
(Aviva Stadium, Leinster – Kick-off: 15.15; 16.15 French time; 15.15 GMT)
@rugby365com: Leinster by 10 points.
Leinster: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Garry Ringrose (captain), 12 Jamie Osborne, 11 Jimmy O’Brien, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Caelan Doris, 5 James Ryan, 4 Joe McCarthy, 3 Michael Ala’alatoa, 2 Rónan Kelleher, 1 Andrew Porter
Replacements: 16 Dan Sheehan, 17 Michael Milne, 18 Cian Healy, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Ryan Baird, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Harry Byrne, 23 Scott Penny
Racing 92: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Olivier Klemenczak, 12 Gael Fickou (captain), 11 Louis Dupichot, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Nolann Le Garrec, 8 Kitione Kamikamica, 7 Mahamadou Coulibaly, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Boris Palu, 4 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Janick Tarrit, 1 Eddy Ben Arous
Replacements: 16 Péniami Narisia, 17 Guram Gogichashvili, 18 Gia Kharaishvili, 19 Anthime Hemery, 20 Maxime Baudonne, 21 Antoine Gibert, 22 Francis Saili, 23 Max Spring
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant Referees: Craig Maxwell-Keys (England), Gareth Holsgrove (England)
TMO: Ian Tempest (England)
Stormers v Clermont
(Cape Town Stadium – Kick-off: 19.30; 18.30 French time, 17.30 GMT)
@rugby365com: Stormers by five points.
Stormers: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Angelo Davids, 10 Kade Wolhuter, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Connor Evans, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain)
Replacements: 16 JJ Kotze, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Ben-Jason Dixon, 20 Evan Roos, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 23 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu
Clermont: 15 Alex Newsome, 14 Marvin O’Connor, 13 Cheik Tiberghien, 12 George Moala, 11 Bautista Delguy, 10 Anthony Belleau, 9 Baptiste Jauneau, 8 Judicaël Cancoriet (c), 7 Killian Tixeront, 6 Alexandre Fischer, 5 Thibaud Lanen, 4 Paul Jedrasiak, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Etienne Fourcade, 1 Giorgi Beria
Replacements: 16 Benjamin Boudou, 17 Daniel Bibi Biziwu, 18 Davit Kubriashvili, 19 Miles Amatosero, 20 Lucas Dessaigne, 21 Sébastien Bézy, 22 Gabin Michet, 23 Francois Mey
Referee: Christophe Ridley (England)
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce (England), Jamie Leahy (England)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)
Exeter Chiefs v Castres
(Sandy Park – Kick-off: 17.30; 18.30 French time; 17.30 GMT)
@rugby365com: Exeter by seven points.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Josh Hodge, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade (captain), 12 Rory O’Loughlin, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Sam Maunder, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Christ Tshiunza, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Dafydd Jenkins, 4 Jannes Kirsten, 3 Josh Iosefa-Scott, 2 Jack Innard, 1 James Kenny
Replacements: 16 Dan Frost, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Jack Dunne, 20 Greg Fisilau, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Harvey Skinner, 23 Solomone Kata
Castres: 15 Julien Dumora, 14 Antoine Bouzerand, 13 Adrien Seguret, 12 Adrea Cocagi, 11 Thomas Larregain, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Feibyan-Cornell Tukino, 7 Baptiste Delaporte, 6 Mathieu Babillot (captain), 5 Florent Vanverberghe, 4 Gauthier Maravat, 3 Levan Chilachava, 2 Gaetan Barlot, 1 Antoine Tichit
Replacements: 16 Brice Humbert, 17 Matthew Tierney, 18 Aurélien Azar, 19 Kevin Kornath, 20 Ryno Pieterse, 21 Teariki Ben-Nicholas, 22 Julien Blanc, 23 Théo Chabouni
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Peter Martin (Ireland), Oisin Quinn (Ireland)
TMO: Leo Colgan (Ireland)
Ulster v Sale Sharks
(Kingspan Stadium – Kick-off: 20.00; 20.00 GMT)
@rugby365com: Ulster by 11 points.
Ulster: 15 Michael Lowry, 14 Rob Lyttle, 13 James Hume, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Nathan Doak, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Nick Timoney, 6 Harry Sheridan, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Alan O’Connor (captain), 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Tom Stewart, 1 Andy Warwick
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Eric O’Sullivan, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 John Cooney, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Ben Moxham
Sale Sharks: 15 Joe Carpenter, 14 Tom O’Flaherty, 13 Sam James, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Arron Reed, 10 Rob du Preez, 9 Gus Warr, 8 Jean-Luc du Preez, 7 Ben Curry (captain), 6 Jono Ross, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Josh Beaumont, 3 James Harper, 2 Ewan Ashman, 1 Bevan Rodd
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Joe Jones, 19 Rouban Birch, 20 Sam Dugdale, 21 Raffi Quirke, 22 Tom Curtis, 23 Tom Roebuck
Referee: Pierre Brousset (France)
Assistant Referees: Vincent Blasco-Baqué (France), Flavien Hourquet (France)
TMO: Eric Briquet-Campin (France)
Sunday, January 22:
Montpellier v London Irish
(GGL Stadium, Montpellier – Kick-off: 14.00; 13.00 UK time; 13.00 GMT)
@rugby365com: Montpellier by five points.
Montpellier: 15 Anthony Bouthier, 14 Gabriel N’gandebe, 13 Thomas Darmon, 12 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 11 Vincent Rattez, 10 Louis Carbonel, 9 Leo Coly, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Yacouba Camara, 6 Nico Janse van Rensburg, 5 Paul Willemse (captain), 4 Bastien Chalureau, 3 Mohamed Haouas, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Simon-Pierre Chauvac
Replacements: 16 Vincent Giudicelli, 17 Enzo Forletta, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 Clement Doumenc, 20 Cobus Reinach, 21 Pierre Lucas, 22 Julien Tisseron, 23 Elliott Stooke
London Irish: 15 Lucio Cinti Luna, 14 Michael Dykes, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Rory Jennings, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Chandler Cunningham-South, 7 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 6 Josh Basham, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rob Simmons (captain), 3 Lovejoy Chawatama, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Danilo Fischetti
Replacements: 16 Mike Willemse, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Chunya Munga, 20 Ben Donnell, 21 Caolan Englefield, 22 Eddie Poolman, 23 James Stokes
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Sam Grove-White (Scotland), Ian Kenny (Scotland)
TMO: Ben Blain (Scotland)
Toulouse v Munster
(Stade Ernest Wallon – Kick-of: 16.15; 15.15 UK time; 15.15 GMT)
@rugby365com: Toulouse by seven points.
Toulouse: 15 Melvyn Jaminet, 14 Juan Cruz Mallía, 13 Pierre-Louis Barassi, 12 Pita Ahki, 11 Dimitri Delibes, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont (captain), 8 Alexandre Roumat, 7 Jack Willis, 6 Anthony Jelonch, 5 Emmanuel Meafou, 4 Richie Arnold, 3 Dorian Aldegheri, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille
Replacements: 16 Guillaume Cramont, 17 Rodrigue Neti, 18 David Ainu’u, 19 Thibaud Flament, 20 Joshua Brennan, 21 Francois Cros, 22 Ange Capuozzo, 23 Arthur Retiere
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Antoine Frisch, 12 Jack Crowley, 11 Shane Daly, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 John Hodnett, 6 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 Josh Wycherley, 18 Roman Salanoa, 19 Jack O’Sullivan, 20 Alex Kendellen, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Ben Healy, 23 Malakai Fekitoa
Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant Referees: Dan Jones (England), Phil Watters (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)
Edinburgh v Saracens
(DAM Health Stadium, Edinburgh – Kick-off: 17.30; 17.30 GMT)
@rugby365com: Saracens by eight points.
Edinburgh: 15 Henry Immelman, 14 Jack Blain, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 James Lang, 11 Blair Kinghorn, 10 Charlie Savala, 9 Ben Vellacott, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Luke Crosbie, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Grant Gilchrist (captain), 4 Sam Skinner, 3 WP Nel, 2 David Cherry, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Adam McBurney, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Lee-Roy Atalifo, 19 Jamie Hodgson, 20 Nick Haining, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Cameron Hutchison, 23 Wes Goosen
Saracens: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Max Malins, 13 Alex Lozowski, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Alex Goode, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Ben Earl, 6 Andrew Christie, 5 Hugh Tizard, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Marco Riccioni, 2 Jamie George (captain), 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Kapeli Pifeleti, 17 Robin Hislop, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Nick Isiekwe, 20 Theo Dan, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Manu Vunipola, 23 Alex Lewington
Referee: Ludovic Cayre (France)
Assistant Referees: Jonathan Gasnier (France), David Beun (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)