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Challenge Cup Round of 16 - Teams and predictions

SATURDAY PREVIEW: The Cheetahs and Lions face the toughest assignments of their debut Challenge Cup campaigns.


The Cheetahs have the difficult task of travelling to the fortress of Stade Mayol to face the three-time Champions Cup winners and four-time Challenge Cup finalists Toulon, while the Lions host three-time Champions Cup finalists Racing 92 at Ellis Park.

The Cheetahs advanced from Pool B after picking up two wins from four games to finish sixth, beating Section Paloise home and away, including a dramatic 9-6 victory in Round 4 to secure their progression.

Meanwhile, Toulon enjoyed an impressive Pool A campaign as they recorded four wins from four, defeating Zebre Parma and Bath home and away to qualify as the top-seeded team.

*Article continues below…

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“I watched their [Toulon’s] last three games and the match against Pau earlier this season just to get a feeling of how strong they are.


“They are a quality team and will be a big task and a much tougher opposition than Pau and Scarlets,” Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie said.

“We have to brace ourselves for that, but we are well prepared and we give it everything we got.”

The coach said he is preparing for a very hostile welcome from the French spectators.

However, he is optimistic that the Cheetahs will pose different questions to the Toulon attack.


“Our biggest weapon will be our defence. I don’t believe they played against teams with our line speed so we want to put them under pressure.

“We want to limit their space and time and force them into mistakes.”

Both teams are missing some key names due to injuries.

Cheslin Kolbe (ankle) is on the sidelines and will be missing the fixture, while Frans Steyn (knee) is absent in the Cheetahs set-up.

Challenge Cup Road-to-the-Final

Ruthless in the den

The Lions have enjoyed a solid start to life in EPCR competitions and were unbeaten at Ellis Park in the pool stage, drawing 31-31 with Dragons and beating Stade Français Paris 30-12.

Despite a 7-17 loss at Stade Français in Round Three, the Lions bounced back with a 30-25 win at the Dragons to secure third place in Pool B.

However, the three-time Champions Cup finalists will pose an immense challenge given their EPCR pedigree.

The TOP 14 outfit endured a difficult Champions Cup pool stage, losing three times before beating Harlequins 30-29 at the Paris La Defense Arena in Round Three to earn a place in the Challenge Cup knockouts.

Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen: “They are going to be travelling, so it is going to be important for us to be accurate this week in training and really start like a house on fire against them to put them under pressure.”

Other fixtures

In the other fixtures, Challenge Cup holders Lyon travel to domestic rivals Stade Français Paris as they begin a bid for a second successive title.

Connacht visit Benetton as they bid to reach a first EPCR quarterfinal since 2019.

Glasgow Warriors are seeking a second successive Challenge Cup quarterfinal when they welcome Dragons RFC to Scotstoun Stadium, while Sale Sharks head to Cardiff for a heavyweight Anglo-Welsh Challenge Cup Round of 16 contest.

*Saturday’s predictions and teams are below …

Toulon v Cheetahs
(Stade Félix Mayol, Toulon – Kick-off: 12.30; 11.30 GMT; 13.30 South African time)


@rugby365com: Toulon by five points


Toulon: 15 Thomas Salles, 14 Jiuta Naqoli Wainiqolo, 13 Jérémy Sinzelle, 12 Waisea Vuidravuwalu, 11 Aymeric Luc, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Benoit Paillaugue, 8 Sergio Parisse (captain), 7 Facundo Isa, 6 Jules Coulon, 5 Adrien Warion, 4 Swan Rebbadj, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Teddy Baubigny, 1 Bruce Devaux
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Dany Priso, 18 Beka Gigashvili, 19 Matthias Halagahu, 20 Mathieu Bastareaud, 21 Jules Danglot, 22 Maëlan Rabut, 23 Ihaia West

Cheetahs: 15 Tapiwa Mafura, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 David Brits, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Munier Hartzenberg, 10 Reinhardt Fortuin, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Jeandré Rudolph, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Victor Sekekete (captain), 4 Rynier Bernardo, 3 Hencus van Wyk, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 17 Alulutho Tshakweni, 18 Nqobisizwe Mxoli, 19 Mzwanele Zito, 20 Daniel Maartens, 21 Sibabalo Qoma, 22 Rewan Kruger, 23 Cohan Jasper

Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Alex Frasson (Italy) & Manuel Bottino (Italy)
TMO: Matteo Liperini (Italy)

Stade Francais Paris v Lyon
(Stade Jean Bouin, Paris – Kick-off: 16.00; 16.00 GMT)


@rugby365com: Lyon by three points


Stade Francais: 15 Kylan Hamdaoui, 14 Stephane Ahmed, 13 Paolo Odogwu, 12 Theo Dachary, 11 Pienasi Dakuwaqa, 10 Joris Segonds, 9 Arthur Coville, 8 Giovanni Habel Kuffner, 7 Mathieu Hirigoyen, 6 Ryan Chapuis, 5 Pierre-Henri Azagoh, 4 Baptiste Pesenti, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Laurent Panis (captain), 1 Vasil Kakovin
Replacements: 16 Mickael Ivaldi, 17 Nemo Roloefse, 18 Giorgi Melikidze, 19 Paul Gabrillagues, 20 Juan Johan van der Mescht , 21 James Hall, 22 Juan Martin Scelzo, 23 Alex Arrate

Lyon: 15 Fletcher Smith, 14 Ethan Dumortier, 13 Tavite Veredamu, 12 Josua Tuisova, 11 Davit Niniashvili, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Baptiste Couilloud, 8 Arno Botha (captain), 7 Liam Allen, 6 Felix Lambey, 5 Loann Goujon, 4 Killian Geraci, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Jérôme Rey
Replacements: 16 Guillaume Marchand, 17 Feao Fotuaika, 18 Demba Bamba, 19 Joel Kpoku, 20 Beka Saginadze, 21 Jonathan Pélissié, 22 Kyle Godwin, 23 Noa Nakaitaci

Referees: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Chris Busby (Ireland) & Paul Haycock (Ireland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

Benetton v Connacht
(Stadio Comunale di Monigo, Treviso – Kick-off: 16.00; 14.00 GMT; 14.00 Ireland and UK time)


@rugby365com: Connacht by eight points


Benetton: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Edoardo Padovani, 13 Nacho Brex, 12 Tommaso Menoncello, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage (captain), 8 Henry Stowers, 7 Michele Lamaro,6 Seb Negri Da Oleggio, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Niccolò Cannone, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Replacements: 16 Siua Maile, 17 Thomas Augustin Gallo, 18 Filippo Alongi, 19 Riccardo Favretto, 20 Manuel Zuliani, 21 Alessandro Izekor, 22 Alessandro Garbisi, 23 Tomas Albornoz

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 John Porch, 13 Tom Farrell, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Mack Hansen, 10 David Hawkshaw, 9 Caolin Blade (captain), 8 Paul Boyle, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Cian Prendergast, 5 Niall Murray, 4 Leva Fifita, 3 Jack Aungier, 2 David Heffernan, 1 Peter Dooley
Replacements: 16 Dylan Tierney Martin, 17 Jordan Duggan, 18 Sam Illo, 19 Oisin Dowling, 20 Shamus Hurley-Langton, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Cathal Forde, 23 Shane Jennings

Referee: Christophe Ridley (England)
Assistant Referees: Jack Makepeace (England) & Gareth Holsgrove (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

Lions v Racing 92
(Ellis Park, Johannesburg – Kick-off: 18.30; 16.30 GMT; 17.30 French Time)


@rugby365com: Racing 92 by six points


Lions: 15 Quan Horn, 14 Sibahle Maxwane, 13 Manuel Rass, 12 Marius Louw (captain), 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Gianni Lombard, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Ruan Venter, 6 Emmanuel Tshituka, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2 Pieter Botha, 1 Jean-Pierre Smith.
Replacements: 16 Morné Brandon, 17 Rhynardt Rijnsburger, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Ruben Schoeman , 20 Travis Gordon, 21 Morné van den Berg, 22 Rynhardt Jonker, 23 Andries Coetzee.

Racing 92: 15 Louis Dupichot, 14 Donovan Taofifénua, 13 Warrick Gelant, 12 Olivier Klemenczak, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Nolann Le Garrec, 8 Cameron Woki, 7 Maxime Baudonne, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Anthime Hemery, 3 Ali Oz, 2 Peniami Narisia, 1 Thomas Moukoro
Replacements: 16 Jonathan Maiau, 17 Guram Gogichashvili, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Fabien Sanconnie, 20 Ibrahim Diallo, 21 Martin Meliande, 22 Max Spring, 23 Asaeli Tuivuaka

Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant Referees: Ian Tempest (England) & Jonathan Healy (England)
TMO: Dean Richards (England)

Glasgow Warriors v Dragons
(Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow – Kick-off: 17.30; 17.30 GMT)


@rugby365com: Glasgow  by 10 points


Glasgow Warriors: 15 Ollie Smith, 14 Kyle Steyn (captain), 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sione Tuipulotu, 11 Cole Forbes, 10 Domingo Miotti, 9 George Horne, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Sione Vailanu, 6 Rory Darge, 5 Richie Gray, 4 Scott Cummings, 3 Lucio Sordoni, 2 Johnny Matthews, 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Nathan McBeth, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Lewis Bean, 21 Ryan Wilson, 22 Jamie Dobie, 23 Tom Jordan

Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Rio Dyer, 13 Steff Hughes, 12 Max Clark, 11 Jared Rosser, 10 Will Reed, 9 Rhodri Williams (captain), 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Taine Basham, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 George Nott, 4 Ben Carter, 3 Chris Coleman, 2 Bradley Roberts, 1 Aki Seiuli
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Huw Taylor, 20 Sean Lonsdale, 21 Ben Fry, 22 Lewis Jones, 23 Ioan Davies

Referees: Tual Trainini (France)
Assistant Referees: Adrien Marbot (France) & Benoit Rousselet (France)
TMO: Eric Briquet-Campin (France)


Cardiff v Sale Sharks
(Arms Park, Cardiff – Kick-off: 20.00; 20.00 GMT)


@rugby365com: Sale Sharks by five points


Cardiff: 15 Rhys Priestland, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Mason Grady, 12 Max Llewellyn, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 James Botham, 6 Josh Turnbull (captain), 5 Teddy Williams, 4 Lopeti Timani, 3 Kieran Assiratti, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Corey Domachowski
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Seb Davies, 20 Thomas Young, 21 James Ratti, 22 Lloyd Williams, 23 Ben Thomas

Sale Sharks: 15 Joe Carpenter, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Rob du Preez, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Tom O’Flaherty, 10 George Ford, 9 Gus Warr, 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Ben Curry (captain), 6 Jono Ross, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Jean-Luc du Preez, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Bevan Rodd
Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Josh Beaumont, 20 Sam Dugdale, 21 Raffi Quirke, 22 Sam James, 23 Arron Reed

Referee: Luc Ramos (France)
Assistant referees: Evan Urruzmendi (France) & Kevin Bralley (France)
TMO: Patrick Dellac (France)

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