Thu 1 Apr 2021 | 09:12

Champions Cup, Round of 16 - teams and predictions

Champions Cup, Round of 16 - teams and predictions
Thu 1 Apr 2021 | 09:12
Champions Cup, Round of 16 - teams and predictions
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GAME FOR OLD-TIMES: Toulouse coach Ugo Mola took a colourful swipe at the state of the modern game in the run-up to Saturday’s clash with Munster.

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He described the sport as “rugby for grandfathers”.

Mola, who made 12 France appearances between 1997-1999, called for changes across the sport in terms of how rugby is marketed and broadcast.

“From what I see, other sports are advancing. Even if it’s a totally different sport, when you watch Formula One, you feel there’s a real revolution in the way they treat the competition, the rules. The way it’s broadcast,” he said.

“I’m scared we’ll fall by the wayside if we continue with this rugby for grandfathers. We need something dynamic.

“Guys are falling asleep in their armchairs. It would be good to wake them all up,” he added.

Mola also said he was “frustrated” by the lack of announcement about next season’s European Champions Cup ahead of travelling to Munster in Saturday’s last 16 tie.

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Mola, takes the joint-record four-time winners to Ireland for a re-run of the 2008 Final, with this term’s knockout and group stages having been changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What’s frustrating with our friends at EPCR [European Professional Club Rugby] is the lack of a decision,” Mola said.

“Until the last moment, we don’t know the format. There is pressure from the English league, the French league and the Pro14. We’re always in this game of power and politics,” the former France winger added.

EPCR told AFP talks are underway about next term.

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“Discussions are ongoing between EPCR and its shareholder leagues and unions on the formats of both the Champions Cup and European Rugby Challenge Cup in the 2021/22 season,” the body told AFP.

“The outcome of those discussions will be communicated as soon as practicable.”

(Continue below …)

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Les Bleus back

Mola will be without nine backs due to injury as well as Springboks loose forward Rynhardt Elstadt due to COVID-19 measure in place in Ireland.

Despite the absences, Les Bleus’ Six Nations squad members including Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack, as well as South Africa’s Rugby World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe, are set to feature at Thomond Park.

“We’ll have to make our team with the players available. Our academy and our youth team please us,” Mola said.

“The current constraints don’t put us in the best position to face such a team as Munster,” he added.

Elsewhere this weekend, three-time champions Toulon travel to Leinster with former All Blacks centre Ma’a Nonu ruled out after being banned for three weeks for a red card in last weekend’s heavy Top 14 loss at Lyon.

Fiji centre Semi Radradra is expected to return to Stade Chaban Delmas as Bristol Bears head to Bordeaux-Begles.

Racing 92 will be without Scotland’s Finn Russell as they host Edinburgh after the fly-half was banned for three weeks for elbowing France’s Brice Dulin in the Six Nations.

The quarterfinals of the tournament take place next week.

‘The weekend last 16 teams and predictions below the video!

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Friday, April 2

Leinster v RC Toulon
(RDS Arena – Kick-off: 17.30; 16.30 GMT)

Leinster and Toulon have met four times before in the Champions Cup, the Top 14 side winning all four of those clashes.

Toulon and Leinster last met in the Champions Cup in the 2015/16 season, the French side picking up a pair of pool stage victories including a 16-20 win at the Aviva Stadium.

Since Toulon beat Leinster in December 2015, the Irish side has won 17 of their 18 ensuing home games in the Champions Cup (lost v Saracens in September 2020).

Overall Toulon has won eight of their 10 Champions Cup games against Irish sides, a pair of defeats against Munster the only blemishes.

Leinster have won eight of their last nine Champions Cup matches, averaging 34 points and 4.6 tries per game in those victories.

Leinster have averaged more carries (140) and passes (182) than any other side in the Champions Cup this season.

Toulon’s average of 25 defenders beaten per game in the Champions Cup this season is the best of any side.

Johnny Sexton (Leinster, 697) needs three more points to become the fourth player to record 700 points in the Champions Cup (Ronan O’Gara, Stephen Jones, Owen Farrell).

Louis Carbonel (Toulon) has landed all six of his shots at goal in the Champions Cup this season, only Joe Simmonds (Exeter, 6/6) has had as many attempts without missing.

Leinster’s Rhys Ruddock has made the joint-most carries (24) of any forward in the Champions Cup this season (also Cobus Wiese).

Prediction

@rugby365com: Leinster by 19 points

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Rory O’Loughlin, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (captain), 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Ryan Baird, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rónan Kelleher, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Scott Fardy, 21 Hugh O’Sullivan, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Dave Kearney.

Toulon: 15 Gervais Cordin, 14 Masivesi Dakuwaqa, 13 Rudi Wulf, 12 Julien Heriteau, 11 Gabin Villière, 10 Duncan Paia’aua, 9 Baptiste Serin (captain), 8 Sergio Parisse, 7 Charles Ollivon, 6 Swan Rebbadj, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Beka Gigashvili, 2 Christopher Tolofua, 1 Jean Baptiste-Gros.
Replacements: 16 Bastien Soury, 17 Sébastien Taofifenua, 18 Emerick Setiano, 19 Raphael Lakafia, 20 Julien Ory, 21 Frederick du Plessis, 22 Anthony Meric, 23 Simon Moretti.

Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant referees: Chris Busby, Seán Gallagher
TMO: Tom Foley

Gloucester v La Rochelle
(Kingsholm – Kick-off: 20.00; 19.00 GMT)

Gloucester and La Rochelle have never met before in the Champions Cup, however, they have clashed nine times before in the Challenge Cup.

Gloucester has won seven of their previous nine meetings with La Rochelle (all Challenge Cup), including three of their four home games against them.

Gloucester has won their last three home games in the Champions Cup; they’ve not enjoyed a longer winning run at Kingsholm since a five-game streak between 2006 and 2008.

La Rochelle has played four previous away games against Premiership teams in the Champions Cup, they won the first of those (v Harlequins) but have lost the three subsequent games.

Gloucester has lost five of their last six Champions Cup games against TOP 14 opposition, including two losses where they had led at half-time.

At home, Gloucester has won seven of their last eight Champions Cup games against TOP 14 sides, only losing to Toulouse last season.

Gloucester is aiming to reach the quarterfinals of the Champions Cup for the first time since 2007/08, they’ve failed to do this in their last six campaigns in the tournament.

La Rochelle has the best tackle success rate (92 percent) in the Champions Cup this season, missing just nine of 112 tackles so far.

Lewis Ludlow (Gloucester) has made 28/28 tackles in the Champions Cup so far this season, no one has made more without missing at least one (also Ben Toolis, Brok Harris).

Seb Nagle-Taylor (Gloucester) has gained more metres (139) than any other forward in the Champions Cup this season, averaging an impressive 9.3 metres per carry so far.

Prediction

@rugby365com: La Rochelle by seven points

The teams

Gloucester: 15 Santiago Carreras, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Barton, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Lewis Ludlow (captain), 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Henry Walker, 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin.
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Alex Seville, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Alex Craig, 20 Freddie Clarke, 21 Jack Clement, 22 Charlie Chapman, 23 Billy Twelvetrees.

La Rochelle: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Arthur Retiere, 13 Raymond Rhule, 12 Levani Botia, 11 Jules Favre, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Tawera Kerr Barlow, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Kevin Gourdon, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Romain Sazy (captain), 3 Arthur Joly, 2 Facundo Bosch, 1 Dany Priso.
Replacements: 16 Pierre Bourgarit, 17 Reda Wardi, 18 Uini Atonio, 19 Thomas Lavault, 20 Grégory Alldritt, 21 Thomas Berjon, 22 Jules Plisson, 23 Geoffrey Doumayrou.

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Paul Dix (England), Craig Maxwell-Keys (England)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

Saturday, April 3

Wasps v ASM Clermont Auvergne
(Ricoh Arena – Kick-off: 12.30; 13.30 French time; 11.13 GMT)

Wasps and Clermont have met just twice before in the Champions Cup, a pair of pool stage matches in 2007/08 which were both won by the home side on the day.

Wasps were one of five sides to claim a maximum 10 match points from their two pool stage matches in the Champions Cup this season, beating both Montpellier and Dragons with try-scoring bonus points.

At home, Wasps have lost just one of their last 14 home games against TOP 14 opposition.

Clermont lost to Munster back in Round 2 in December, they have not lost back-to-back matches in the Champions Cup since January 2016.

Clermont has scored the most points (82) and joint most tries (11) in the Champions Cup this season.

Wasps have won 15/15 scrums on their own feed in the Champions Cup this season, no side left in the competition has won as many whilst maintaining a 100 percent success rate.

Clermont has missed the most tackles (47) and has the lowest tackle success rate (82 percent) of any side in the Champions Cup this season.

Alfie Barbeary (Wasps) has been involved in more tries (2 tries, 1 assist) in the Champions Cup this season than any other forward.

Josh Bassett (Wasps) has made 150 metres from 11 carries in the Champions Cup this season, giving him the best average gain (13.6) of anyone to make 10+ carries.

Clermont’s Damian Penaud has beaten more defenders (11) than any other player in the Champions Cup this season, teammate George Moala is ranked joint-second (10, also Santiago Cordero).

Prediction

@rugby365com: Clermont by six points

Teams

Wasps: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Paolo Odogwu, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Michael Le Bourgeois, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Brad Shields, 7 Thomas Young, 6 James Gaskell, 5 Will Rowlands, 4 Joe Launchbury (captain), 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Ben Harris.
Replacements: 16 Gabriel Oghre, 17 Jack Owlett, 18 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 19 Sione Vailanu, 20 Tom Willis, 21 Sam Wolstenholme, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Zach Kibirige.

Clermont: 15 Kotaro Matsushima, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 George Moala, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Alivereti Raka, 10 Camille Lopez (captain), 9 Sébastien Bézy, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Alexandre Fischer, 6 Judicaël Cancoriet, 5 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 4 Paul Jedrasiak, 3 Cristian Ojovan, 2 Adrien Pélissié, 1 Peni Ravai.
Replacements: 16 Etienne Fourcade, 17 Daniel Bibi Biziwu, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Thibaud Lanen, 20 Peceli Yato, 21 Morgan Parra, 22 Tim Nanai-Williams, 23 Peter Betham.

Referee: Franck Murphy
Assistant referee: Anthony Woodthorpe, Simon Harding
TMO: Brian MacNeice

Munster v Toulouse
(Thomond Park – Kick-off: 15.00; 16.00 French time; 14.00 GMT)

Munster and Toulouse have met six times previously in the Champions Cup, the Irish province winning four of those clashes, including each of the last three.

Munster have hosted Toulouse twice before in the Champions Cup, winning both encounters by large margins, 47-23 in the 2013/14 quarterfinals and 41-16 in the 2016/17 quarterfinals.

Munster are unbeaten in 16 home games in the Champions Cup, their last such defeat coming in 2015 against Leicester Tigers.

At home, Munster has won nine of their 10 knock-out games in the Champions Cup, Ulster in 2012 the only side to beat them in such a match.

Toulouse has won both of their last two away games against Irish opponents in the Champions Cup, beating both Connacht and Ulster in 2020, that is as many wins as they’d managed in their previous 10 such matches.

This match pits the side with the most Champions Cup appearances, Munster (182), against the side with the third most, Toulouse (175).

Between them, either Munster or Toulouse (or both) have appeared in nine of the 25 Champions Cup finals, although neither has reached that stage since 2009/10 (Toulouse).

Keith Earls needs one more try to score his 20th in the Champions Cup, he’d be the third player to achieve this for Munster after Simon Zebo and Anthony Foley (both 23).

Mike Haley (Munster) ranks third for metres gained (178) in the Champions Cup this season, also ranking joint fourth for most carries (24, level with five others).

Munster’s JJ Hanrahan (30) is the top point scorer in the Champions Cup this season, he’s slotted 3/3 conversions and 8/9 penalty goal attempts.

Prediction

@rugby365com: Munster by eight points

Teams

Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander (captain), 7 Jack O’Donoghue, 6 Gavin Coombes, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Kevin O’Byrne, 17 James Cronin, 18 John Ryan, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Fineen Wycherley, 21 Craig Casey, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Chris Cloete.

Toulouse: 15 Maxime Médard, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Zack Holmes, 12 Pita Ahki, 11 Matthis Lebel, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Selevasio Tolofua, 6 Francois Cros, 5 Richie Arnold, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Julien Marchand (captain), 1 Cyril Baille.
Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Clément Castets, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Joe Tekori, 20 Thibaud Flament, 21 Alban Placines, 22 Baptiste Germain, 23 Dimitri Delibes.

Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referee: Seán Gallagher, Chris Busby
TMO: Tom Foley

Exeter Chiefs v Lyon
(Sandy Park – Kick-off: 17.30; 16.30 GMT)

This will be the first meeting between Exeter and Lyon in European competition.

Reigning Champions Cup champions, Exeter, have won their last seven home games in a row in the tournament, one more win would set a club record for consecutive home wins in Europe (across both the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup).

Exeter has won their last five completed fixtures against French opponents in the Champions Cup, as many as they had recorded in all of their previous 15 such matches.

Lyon is playing their first-ever knock-out match in European competition, they will be looking for a first Champions Cup victory away from home.

Exeter beat Glasgow 42-0 in Round 1 earlier this season, their biggest ever win in the Champions Cup.

Lyon is the only side to win all of their line-outs (11/11) and scrums (4/4) in the Champions Cup so far this season.

Exeter has won 100 percent of their rucks in the Champions Cup this season (82/82), no other side has a perfect rate in this facet of the game.

Sam Simmonds (Exeter) has won a joint high four turnovers in the Champions Cup this season, despite playing just one game, he also scored a try and made 8/8 tackles in that one appearance.

Lyon’s Xavier Mignot has been involved in five tries in the Champions Cup this season (3 tries, 2 assists), the most of any player, despite making just one appearance (v Gloucester).

Joe Simmonds (Exeter) has landed all six of his shots at goal in the Champions Cup this season, only Louis Carbonel (Toulon, 6/6) has had as many attempts without missing

Prediction

@rugby365com: Exeter by 12 points

Teams

Exeter: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Tom O’Flaherty, 10 Joe Simmonds (captain), 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Jonny Gray, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Alec Hepburn.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Jannes Kirsten, 21 Stu Townsend, 22 Harvey Skinner, 23 Ian Whitten.

Lyon: 15 Toby Arnold, 14 Xavier Mignot, 13 Pierre-Louis Barassi, 12 Charlie Ngatai (captain), 11 Noa Nakaitaci, 10 Jonathan Wisniewski, 9 Baptiste Couilloud, 8 Patrick Sobela, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Dylan Cretin, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Felix Lambey, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Jeremie Maurouard, 1 Vivien Devisme.
Replacements: 16 Mickael Ivaldi, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Joe Taufete’e, 19 Mickael Guillard, 20 Alex Tulou, 21 Jean-Marc Doussain, 22 Thibaut Regard, 23 Clément Laporte.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse
Assistant referee: Greg Macdonald, Jonathan Healy
TMO: Ian Davies

Sunday, April 4

Racing 92 v Edinburgh
(Paris La Défense Arena – Kick-off: 13.30; 12.30 UK time; 11.30 GMT)

This will be the fifth Champions Cup meeting between Racing and Edinburgh, the Scottish side won both their pool stage meetings in 2011/12 before Racing 92 returned the favour in both of their meetings in 2012/13.

Racing is looking to reach the quarterfinals of the Champions Cup for the fourth consecutive season, Leinster are the only other side able to match that feat this season.

Racing has won 12 of their last 13 home games in the Champions Cup, only losing to fellow French side Toulouse in the 2018/19 quarterfinals.

Edinburgh has won their last three away games in the Champions Cup, their best-ever streak, and as many victories as they had managed in their previous 18 games on the road.

Edinburgh beat Toulon in their most recent (January 2019) away game against French opposition in the Champions Cup, they have never won back-to-back games on the road against TOP 14 sides in the competition.

Henry Chavancy (Racing) has made four passes that have resulted in a break in the Champions Cup this season, more than any other player.

Georges-Henri Colombe (Racing) is one of just four forwards to score multiple tries (2) in the Champions Cup this season (also Rob Herring, Bryan Byrne and Alfie Barbeary).

Racing’s Kurtley Beale has made the most carries (28), breaks (10) and metres (246) of any player in the Champions Cup this season.

Ben Toolis (Edinburgh) has made 28/28 tackles in the Champions Cup so far this season, no one has made more without missing at least one (also Lewis Ludlow, Brok Harris).

Edinburgh duo Stuart McInally (34) and Hamish Watson (30) have made more tackles than anyone else in the Champions Cup this season.

Prediction

@rugby365com: Racing by 15 points

Teams

Racing 92: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Henry Chavancy (captain), 11 Louis Dupichot, 10 Antoine Gibert, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Jordan Joseph, 7 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 6 Ibrahim Diallo, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Bernard Le Roux, 3 Cedate Gomes Sa, 2 Camille Chat, 1 Eddy Ben Arous.
Replacements: 16 Teddy Baubigny, 17 Guram Gogichashvili, 18 Ali Oz, 19 Dominic Bird, 20 Boris Palu, 21 Teddy Iribaren, 22 Francois Trinh-Duc, 23 Simon Zebo.

Edinburgh: 15 Damien Hoyland, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 James Johnstone, 12 George Taylor, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Blair Kinghorn, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Grant Gilchrist (captain), 4 Magnus Bradbury, 3 WP Nel, 2 David Cherry, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Mike Willemse, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Mesulame Kunavula, 20 Luke Crosbie, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Mark Bennett.

Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referee: Tual Trainini, Cédric Marchat
TMO: Ian Tempest

Bordeaux-Bègles v Bristol Bears
(Stade Chaban-Delmas – Kick-off: 16.00; 15.00 UK time; 14.00 GMT)

Bordeaux and Bristol have never met before in the Champions Cup, however, they have clashed three times before in the Challenge Cup.

The last clash between Bordeaux and Bristol came in the Challenge Cup semifinals last season, the Premiership side coming back from 7-13 at half-time to prevail 37-20.

Both Bordeaux and Bristol are aiming to reach the quarterfinals of the Champions Cup for the first time in their history.

Bordeaux has won their last three games in the Champions Cup, a fourth win would be a record for them in the competition.

Bristol has won five of their last six away games against TOP 14 opposition, all of those games coming in the Challenge Cup.

Bristol Bears top the charts for most metres (950, same as Wasps), breaks (31) and defenders beaten (48, same as Clermont) in the Champions Cup this season.

Bryan Byrne (Bristol Bears) is one of just four forwards to score multiple tries (2) in the Champions Cup this season (also Rob Herring, Georges-Henri Colombe and Alfie Barbeary).

Max Malins ranks second for both carries (26) and metres made (191) in the Champions Cup this season, behind Kurtley Beale in both categories.

Santiago Cordero is the top try scorer in the Champions Cup so far this season, crossing four times already, he also ranks second for defenders beaten (10) and has claimed 12/12 kicks that have come his way.

Max Malins (Bristol Bears) and Romain Buros (Bordeaux) have made more offloads than anyone else in the Champions Cup this season (5 each).

Prediction

@rugby365com: Bordeaux by eight points

Teams

Bordeaux-Begles: 15 Romain Buros, 14 Yoram Moefana, 13 Pablo Uberti, 12 Rémi Lamerat, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Maxime Lucu, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Guido Petti, 6 Cameron Woki, 5 Jandré Marais, 4 Cyril Cazeaux, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Clement Maynadier, 1 Jefferson Poirot (captain).
Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Thierry Paiva, 18 Lekso Kaulashvili, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Alexandre Roumat, 21 Yann Lesgourgues, 22 Ulupano Seuteni, 23 Nans Ducuing.

Bristol: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 Alapati Leiua, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Callum Sheedy (captain), 9 Andy Uren, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Dan Thomas, 6 Chris Vui, 5 Joe Joyce, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Bryan Byrne, 1 Yann Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 John Afoa, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Sam Bedlow, 23 Piers O’Conor.

Referee: Mike Adamson
Assistant referee: Thomas Charabas, Luc Ramos
TMO: Neil Paterson

Scarlets v Sale Sharks
(Parc y Scarlets – Kick-off: 17.30; 16.30 GMT)

Scarlets and Sale Sharks have met four times before in the Champions Cup, the Welsh side winning three of those four clashes but losing the most recent one (January 2017).

Scarlets have won both of their two home games against Sale in the Champions Cup, those matches taking place in December 2002 and October 2016.

Sale is on a six-game losing streak in the Champions Cup, in fact, they have won just two of their last 25 games in the competition, one of those victories coming against Scarlets (also v La Rochelle).

Sale has not won a Champions Cup game outside of England since October 2008, losing 17 of their last 18 away games overall in the competition.

Scarlets have won three of their last four Champions Cup games against Premiership opposition, turning around a half-time deficit to beat Bath in their most recent such game.

Sale’s ruck success rate of 91 percent is the lowest in the Champions Cup this season, they’ve lost 18 attacking rucks so far, more than any other side.

Scarlets have averaged 171 tackles completed per match in the Champions Cup this season, the most of any side.

Sale’s Sam Hill has missed more tackles (7) than anyone else in the Champions Cup this season, he has however made the third most carries (25) of any player.

Sam Dugdale (Sale Sharks) has won four turnovers in the Champions Cup this season, the joint-most of any player.

Cobus Wiese (Sale Sharks) has made the joint-most carries (24) of any forward in the Champions Cup this season (also Leinster’s Rhys Ruddock)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Scarlets by nine points

Teams

Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Steff Hughes, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Jac Morgan, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Ken Owens (captain), 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Steff Thomas, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Lewis Rawlins, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 Dane Blacker, 22 Sam Costelow, 23 Jonathan Davies.

Sale Sharks: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Byron McGuigan, 13 Sam James, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Jean-Luc du Preez, 5 Josh Beaumont (captain), 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 WillGriff John, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Bevan Rodd.
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 James Phillips, 20 Cameron Neild, 21 Raffi Quirke, 22 Robert du Preez, 23 Luke James.

Referee: Mathieu Raynal
Assistant referee: Dan Jones, Mike English
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure

Sources: @ChampionsCup & AFP

PV: 27
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