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Challenge Cup, Round Four - Teams and Predictions

SATURDAY AND SUNDAY PREVIEW: The Lions and the Cheetahs will be targeting strong finishes to their Challenge pool fixtures as they aim to finish in the top six in Pool B of the competition when they face the Dragons and Section Paloise respectively on Sunday.


The Lions are currently third in Pool B following a win, a defeat and a draw in their three matches, but they are tied on eight points with Stade Francais and the Dragons.

Section Paloise and the Cheetahs, however, trail by only two points, which will add to the pressure on the Lions going into this encounter.

The visitors have been more effective on defence in the competition, and they will look to capitalise on that when they face the Dragons, but the Lions will have their 31-31 draw in their last meeting in the back of their minds when they take the field, which will set the scene for a gripping clash.

“We played them twice [URC and Challenge Cup], we won the first one and drew the second one, so we haven’t lost to them yet,” said Lions forward coach Albert van den Berg.

“I think we can take confidence from that.

“What we need to change, if you look at our games in the past, is just the unforced errors.


“We need to get everyone on the same page. We have got a young team.

“They are getting a lot of experience now by playing, but we have to take the next step up.

“We need to limit our unforced errors and make sure we put the teams under pressure when we are actually into that strike zone.

“We tend to do a lot of playing, but we don’t get the points. If we can change that then we can win.”


Van den Berg said the Dragons are a different beast from what they faced last season.

“They are a lot better than last year. We must not fool ourselves and think it is going to be an easy game,” Van den Berg explained.

“It is going to be a tough game.

“We tend to play a lot but we can’t convert it into points.

“For this Sunday, we have to make sure of that when we get into their 22.

“Let’s get the points up and get the innings.

“We don’t want to hit a six with every ball but we want to build on that innings and make sure that we put pressure on them and then the result will look after itself.”

Flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse has recovered from the ankle niggle he suffered two weeks ago against Munster and he takes his place in the flyhalf position.

The Junior Springbok partners with Andre Warner who gets his chance as the starting scrumhalf with the nuggety Morne van den Berg providing cover on the bench.

Elsewhere, hookers Michael van Vuuren and PJ Botha swap jersey numbers, with the former getting an opportunity in the starting XV.

Meanwhile, for the Cheetahs, victory is non-negotiable against Section Paloise in Parma to keep alive their hopes of forcing their way into the knock-out stages as they are currently ranked second last in Pool B after registering only one victory in their three outings, incidentally against Section Paloise in Pau, where they emerged 21-16 victors.

Given the narrow margins between the sides on attack, with the Free Staters having scored only six more points than their French opponents, and the fact that both sides come off narrow defeats last week, it could be a gripping match.

“There is a really good vibe in the squad,” said Cheetahs head coach Hawies Fourie.

“Everyone is looking forward to Sunday’s game. We know that if we win, we will go through to the next round. If not, then Pau will go through.

“It’s got a semifinal feeling about it, but we prepared well this week and we had a good week so far on the training field.”

Fourie believes conditions will be favourable for an attacking game.

“This coming weekend it is quite cold, the forecast is between zero and minus four degrees, so it’s a really cold day but no rain is expected,” said the coach.

“It will be possible to handle the ball well and keep it through phases and put pressure on them, so we will go that route.

“We will play an attacking brand on Sunday and we will try and win the game that way.”

The team for the encounter has a couple of changes from last week.

Daniel Maartens will be wearing the No.6 jersey, replacing the injured Sibabalo Qoma (ankle), with Roelof Smit providing cover on the bench.

Andell Loubser and Tapiwa Mafura switch places with Mafura in the starting line-up.

*There has also been a late change in the backline with Robert Ebersohn replacing Reinhardt Fortuin (calf injury). Evardi Boshoff will now be included on the bench.

See below for Saturday and Sunday’s teams and predictions!

Challenge Cup Pool B

Saturday, January 21:

Aviron Bayonnais v Scarlets
(Stade Jean Dauger, Bayonne – Kick-off: 14.00; 13.00 UK & Ireland time; 13.00 GMT)


@rugby365com: Scarlets by eight points.


Bayonne: 15 Yohan Orabe, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Peyo Muscarditz, 12 Guillaume Martocq, 11 Bastien Pourailly, 10 Thomas Dolhagaray, 9 Maxime Machenaud (captain), 8 Mateaki Kafatolu, 7 Esteban Capilla, 6 Jean Monribot, 5 Manuel Leindekar, 4 Geoffrey Cridge, 3 Chris Talakai, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Pieter Scholtz.
Replacements: 16 Thomas Acquier, 17 Swan Cormenier, 18 Badri Tsikhistavi, 19 Aïtor Hourcade, 20 Denis Marchois, 21 Guillaume Rouet, 22 Jason Robertson, 23 Eneriko Buliruarua.

Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Joe Roberts, 12 Jonathan Davies (captain), 11 Steff Evans, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Carwyn Tuipulotu, 7 Dan Davis, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Javan Sebastian, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Shaun Evans, 17 Kemsley Mathias, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Sione Kalamafoni, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Ioan Nicholas.

Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Filippo Russo (Italy), Riccardo Angelucci (Italy)
TMO: Stefano Roscini (Italy)

Brive v Cardiff
(Stadium de Brive, Brive – Kick-off: 16.15; 15.15 UK & Ireland time; 15.15 GMT)


@rugby365com: Cardiff by seven points.


Brive: 15 Mathis Ferté, 14 Kevin Fabien, 13 Seta Tuicuvu, 12 Setareki Bituniyata, 11 Arthur Bonneval, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Enzo Sanga, 8 Retief Marais, 7 Said Hireche (captain), 6 Tevita Ratuva, 5 Lucas Paulos Adler, 4 Julien Delannoy, 3 Francisco Coria Marchetti, 2 Motu Matu’u, 1 Wesley Tapueluelu.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Fraissenon, 17 Daniel Brennan, 18 Tietie Tuimauga, 19 Oskar Konstantin Rixen, 20 Sacha Gue, 21 Léo Carbonneau, 22 Enzo Herve, 23 Wesley Douglas.

Cardiff: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Aled Summerhill, 13 Mason Grady, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Jason Harries, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Tomos Williams (captain), 8 James Ratti, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 James Botham, 5 Teddy Williams, 4 Lopeti Timani, 3 Kieron Assiratti, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Rhys Carre.
Replacements: 16 Efan Daniel, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Will Davies-King, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Seb Davies, 21 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 22 Lloyd Williams, 23 Jarrod Evans.

Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe (England)
Assistant Referees: George Selwood (England), James Clarke (England)
TMO: David Rose (England)

Benetton v Stade Francais
(Stadio Comunale di Monigo, Treviso – Kick-off: 16.15; 16.15 GMT)


@rugby365com: Benetton by nine points.


Benetton: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Edoardo Padovani, 13 Nacho Brex, 12 Tommaso Menoncello, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Tomas Albornoz, 9 Alessandro Garbisi, 8 Michele Lamaro (captain), 7 Manuel Zuliani, 6 Seb Negri Da Oleggio, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Niccolò Cannone, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Federico Zani.
Replacements: 16 Manuel Arroyo, 17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Riccardo Favretto, 20 Henry Stowers, 21 Dewaldt Duvenage, 22 Jacob Umaga, 23 Marco Zanon.

Stade Francais: 15 Kylan Hamdaoui, 14 Sione Tui, 13 Julien Delbouis, 12 Alex Arrate, 11 Stephane Ahmed, 10 Léo Barre, 9 Arthur Coville, 8 Juan Martin Scelzo, 7 Sekou Macalou, 6 Giorgi Tsutkiridze, 5 Juan Johan Van der Mescht, 4 Nathan Huguen, 3 Paul Alo Emile, 2 Laurent Panis (captain), 1 Sergo Abramishvili.
Replacements: 16 Lucas Peyresblanques, 17 Clément Castets, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Ryan Chapuis, 20 Sitaleki Timani, 21 Harry Glover, 22 Morgan Parra, 23 Pienasi Dakuwaqa.

Referee: Jack Makepeace (England)
Assistant Referees: Mike Hudson (England), Peter Allan (England)
TMO: Dean Richards (England)

Newcastle Falcons v Connacht
(Kingston Park, Newcastle – Kick-off: 17.30; 17.30 GMT)


@rugby365com: Connacht by three points.


Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Ben Stevenson, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Pete Lucock, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Michael Young (captain), 8 Carl Fearns, 7 Philip van der Walt, 6 Gary Graham, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 4 Greg Peterson, 3 Trevor Davison, 2 Jamie Blamire, 1 Logovi’i Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Maddison, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Freddie Lockwood, 20 Pedro Rubiolo, 21 Josh Barton, 22 Josh Thomas, 23 Adam Radwan.

Connacht: 15 Mack Hansen, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Byron Ralston, 12 Cathal Forde, 11 Alex Wootton, 10 Conor Fitzgerald, 9 Colm Reilly, 8 Jarrad Butler (captain), 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Shamus Hurley-Langton, 5 Josh Murphy, 4 Leva Fifita, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Dylan Tierney-Martin, 17 Jordan Duggan, 18 Jack Aungier, 19 Darragh Murray, 20 Ciaran Booth, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Tom Daly, 23 Tom Farrell.

Referee: Pierre-Baptiste Nuchy (France)
Assistant Referees: Thomas Charabas (France), Stéphane Crapoix (France)
TMO: Denis Grenouillet (France)

Sunday, January 22:

Dragons v Lions
(Rodney Parade, Newport – Kick-off: 13.00; 13.00 GMT; 15.00 SA time)


@rugby365com: Dragons by five points.


Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Rio Dyer, 13 Steff Hughes (captain), 12 Max Clark, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Will Reed, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Taine Basham, 6 George Nott, 5 Ben Carter, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Bradley Roberts, 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Brodie Coghlan, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Sean Lonsdale, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Jack Dixon.

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Quan Horn, 13 Henco van Wyk, 12 Marius Louw (captain), 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 André Warner, 8 Emmanuel Tshituka, 7 Emile van Heerden, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Darrien Landsberg, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2 Michael van Vuuren, 1 JP Smith.
Replacements: 16 PJ Botha, 17 Morgan Naude, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 20 Ruhan Straeuli, 21 JC Pretorius, 22 Morné van den Berg, 23 Rynhardt Jonker.

Referee: Adrien Marbot (France)
Assistant Referees: Thomas Chereque (France), Stephane Boyer (France)
TMO: Christophe Berdos (France)

Cheetahs v Section Paloise
(Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma – Kick-off: 16.15; 17.15 SA time; 15.15 GMT)


@rugby365com: Cheetahs by six points.


Cheetahs: 15 Tapiwa Mafura, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 David Brits, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Munier Hartzenberg, 10 Siya Masuku, 9 Rewan Kruger, 8 Jeandré Rudolph, 7 Friedle Olivier, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Victor Sekekete (captain), 4 Rynier Bernardo, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Louis van der Westhuizen, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 17 Alulutho Tshakweni, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Mzwanele Zito, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Branden de Kock, 22 Evardi Boshoff, 23 Andell Loubser.

Pau: 15 Théo Attissogbe, 14 Clément Laporte, 13 Yvan Reilhac, 12 Nathan Decron, 11 Daniel Ikpefan, 10 Thibault Debaes, 9 Clovis Lebail, 8 Jordan Joseph, 7 Martin Puech (captain), 6 Sacha Zegueur, 5 Mickael Capelli, 4 Guillaume Ducat, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Romain Ruffenach, 1 Ignacio Calles.
Replacements: 16 Lucas Rey, 17 Rémi Seneca, 18 Guram Papidze, 19 Lekima Tagitagivalu, 20 Thibaut Hamonou, 21 Reece Hewat, 22 Dan Robson, 23 Tumua Manu.

Referee: Federico Vedovelli (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Alex Frasson (Italy), Manuel Bottino (Italy)
TMO: Matteo Liperini (Italy)

Challenge Cup Pool A

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