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Challenge Cup, Round Three - teams and predictions

FRIDAY PREVIEW: It is a battle for survival in Friday’s Challenge Cup Pool Two matches.


Both Newcastle Falcons and Perpignan face must-win games, at home to Benetton and away to Ospreys respectively.

Lose and both are all but out, while for their opponents, a win will set each up nicely for a final weekend tilt at Round of 16 qualification.

Newcastle Falcons defence coach Scott Baldwin has urged his players to be more accurate in defence and attack as they seek their first victory of the season in the EPCR at Kingston Park.

So far, they have chalked up only one point, a losing bonus, from their two Pool Two games – which has them narrowly ahead of Perpignan, and now they welcome third-placed Benetton following their 11th loss in 11 games in the Premiership.

“It’s frustrating for the players and coaches because it’s the same thing every week,’ Baldwin said. ”

“We do so much good and defend for long periods, but then we don’t stick to the plan and we concede.


“The boys are putting in so much effort and their spirit is incredible, but we’ve just got to be more accurate. It’s killing us in games, to be honest.

“We’ve lost a lot of games now, several of which we have been very close in.

“The energy in the group is fantastic and the boys turn up every week ready to work, but we just need to have a higher degree of accuracy.”

* (Article continues below …)

* Meanwhile, Ospreys coach Toby Booth is hoping his squad can use the confidence banked from successive Welsh derby wins in the United Rugby Championship to defeat Perpignan in what he labels a ‘volatile’ Challenge Cup tie in Swansea.


Placed fourth in Pool Two, the Welsh region, who beat Scarlets and Cardiff in their last two URC games, occupy the pool’s final qualification slot for the Round of 16, with a difficult trip to the Lions looming in their last pool fixture.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Booth told Swansea Bay News.

“We knew this was going to be a busy period and this is now quite a pivotal part for us with the scheduling.

“We know this is an important part of our season.

You don’t win anything in January, but you certainly need to get yourself in a position to progress to the knockout rounds.

“It is difficult to predict, because most European fixtures are volatile in Rounds Three and Four.

“You could get through [to the knockout phase with two wins] if other results go your way.

“We will see where that takes us, as we want to progress.

“We have talked about the opportunity it provides us and how much we enjoyed our experience last year, so we will do our very best to make sure that happens.”

All the Friday, January 12, teams and predictions follow below

Newcastle Falcons v Benetton
(Kingston Park, Newcastle upon Tyne – Kick-off: 20.00; 21.00 Italian time; 20.00 GMT)


@rugby365com: Benetton by five points


Newcastle Falcons: 15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 George Wacokecoke, 12 Cammy Hutchison, 11 Iwan Stephens, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Josh Barton, 8 Callum Chick (captain), 7 Guy Pepper, 6 Pedro Rubiolo, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 4 John Hawkins, 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Jamie Blamire, 1 Adam Brocklebank.
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Phil Brantingham, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Freddie Lockwood, 20 Sam Cross, 21 Hugh O’Sullivan, 22 Louie Johnson, 23 Tom Penny.

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

Referee: Tual Trainini (France)
Assistant referees: Flavien Hourquet (France), Ludovic Cayre (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)

Ospreys v Perpignan
(Swansea Stadium – Kick-off: 20.00; 21.00 French time; 20.00 GMT)


@rugby365com: Ospreys by 12 points


Ospreys: 15 Iestyn Hopkins, 14 Mat Protheroe, 13 George North, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Keelan Giles, 10 Dan Edwards, 9 Luke Davies, 8 Morgan Morse, 7 Dewi Lake, 6 James Ratti, 5 Adam Beard (captain), 4 James Fender, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Ethan Lewis, 17 Garyn Phillips, 18 Ben Warren, 19 Lewis Jones, 20 Will Hickey, 21 Cameron D Jones, 22 Jack Walsh, 23 Keiran Williams.

Perpignan: 15 Louis Dupichot, 14 Boris Goutard, 13 Eddie Sawailau, 12 Apisai Naqalevu, 11 Lucas Dubois, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Sadek Deghmache, 8 So’otala Fa’aso’o, 7 Kelian Galletier (captain), 6 Lucas Bachelier, 5 Shahn Eru, 4 Tristan Labouteley, 3 Nemo Roelofse, 2 Ignacio Ruiz, 1 Akato Fakatika.
Replacements: 16 Victor Montgaillard, 17 Sacha Lotrian, 18 Arthur Joly, 19 Bastien Chinarro, 20 Alan Brazo, 21 Joaquin Oviedo, 22 Matteo Rodor, 23 Jean-Pascal Barraque.

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

Source: @ChallengeCup_


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