Fri 10 Dec 2021 | 10:13

Champions Cup - teams and predictions

Champions Cup - teams and predictions
Fri 10 Dec 2021 | 10:13
Champions Cup - teams and predictions
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PREVIEW ROUND ONE: Former New Zealand prop Charlie Faumuina expects to face a “willing” Cardiff side in the European Champions Cup on Saturday, despite the hosts missing 32 players due to COVID-19 isolation.

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The Welsh region will field an outfit made up of academy members, semi-pro players and internationals who did not travel to South Africa last month for two United Championship games.

Cardiff was in the rainbow nation for league fixtures when it became a red list-country for travellers returning to Britain.

“There’s no doubt it will be tough for Cardiff to prepare,” Faumuina said.

“I’m sure they’ll put out a team that will be more than willing to try and win the game,” the 34-year-old added.

British and Irish Lions wing Josh Adams is one of six Wales players who were involved in the November internationals available for stand-in head coach Gruff Rees to welcome the record five-time Champions Cup winners.

He will line up alongside youngsters from the academy and players from Cardiff amateur set-up.

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“There is no pressure on us – I am sure everybody is expecting Toulouse to beat us – but within our inner circle we are quietly confident we can cause them problems,” Adams said.

“Talk about being thrown in the deep end. These scenarios come up, and I know, speaking to these boys, they are excited as well,” he added.

Cardiff’s fellow Welsh region, the Scarlets have forfeited their scheduled game against Bristol Bears due to a lack of first-team players available after also returning from South Africa.

Racing ‘objective’

Elsewhere in the opening round of action, three-time runners-up Racing 92 head to Northampton on Friday.

“It’s massive. We’ve never won it here before so that’s our main objective especially after getting so close last year,” Racing’s Scotland fly-half Finn Russell told AFP.

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“After getting so close, that’s the main goal for us boys. I’ve been in a few finals at Racing and never managed to win it. It’s probably the main objective for us,” he added.

On Friday, Russell is set to face Wales fly-half Dan Biggar, alongside whom he toured with the British and Irish Lions earlier this year.

“He’s a world-class player. The style of play he uses at Northampton is different to what I saw in the summer,” Russell said.

“They play with an expansive gameplan. It’s a great style of rugby to watch. It lets him use all his skillset. It will be good fun going up against him,” he added.

Another stand-out tie sees Top 14 leaders Bordeaux-Begles host the side in the No. 1 spot in the English Premiership, Leicester while South Africa’s World Cup winner Duane Vermeulen could make his Ulster debut as the Irish province travel to Clermont.

Below are all the Round One predictors and teams!

Friday, December 10

Northampton Saints v Racing 92
(Franklin’s Gardens – Kick-off 20.00; 20.00 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Racing by five points

Teams

Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Tommy Freeman, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Fraser Dingwall, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Lewis Ludlam (captain), 6 Karl Wilkins, 5 Api Ratuniyarawa, 4 David Ribbans, 3 Ehren Painter, 2 Sam Matavesi, 1 Nick Auterac.
Replacements: 16 James Fish, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Conor Carey, 19 Alex Coles, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Frank Lomani, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 Ollie Sleightholme.

Racing 92: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Gael Fickou (c), 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Yoan Tanga, 7 Ibrahim Diallo, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Bernard Le Roux, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Ali Oz, 2 Teddy Baubigny, 1 Guram Gogichashvili.
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Eddy Ben Arous, 18 Cedate Gomes Sa, 19 Anton Bresler, 20 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 21 Antoine Gibert, 22 Henry Chavancy, 23 Donovan Taofifenua.

Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Ben Blain (Scotland), Ian Kenny (Scotland)
TMO: Hollie Davidson (Scotland)

Saturday, December 11

Cardiff v Stade Toulousain
(Cardiff Arms Park – Kick-off: 13.00; 13.00 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Toulouse by seven points

Teams

Cardiff: 15 Jacob Beetham, 14 Theo Cabango, 13 Josh Adams, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Dan Fish, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 James Botham, 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Ellis Jenkins (captain), 5 Seb Davies, 4 Alun Lawrence, 3 Will Davies-King, 2 Iestyn Harris, 1 Rowan Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Evan Yardley, 17 Joe Cowell, 18 Geraint James, 19 Rhys Anstey, 20 Alex Everett, 21 Ethan Lloyd, 22 Ioan Evans, 23 Ryan Wilkins.

Toulouse: 15 Maxime Médard, 14 Arthur Bonneval, 13 Sofiane Guitoune, 12 Pita Ahki, 11 Matthis Lebel, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont (captain), 8 Selevasio Tolofua, 7 Anthony Jelonch, 6 Francois Cros, 5 Emmanuel Meafou, 4 Thibaud Flament, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Peato Mauvaka, 1 Cyril Baille.
Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Rodrigue Neti, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Joe Tekori, 20 Yannick Youyoutte, 21 Antoine Miquel, 22 Baptiste Germain, 23 Juan Cruz Mallía.

Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant referees: Michael Hudson (England), John Meredith (England)
TMO: Craig Maxwell-Keys (England)

Leinster v Bath
(Lansdowne Road – Kick-off: 15.15; 15.15 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Leinster by 30 points

Teams

Leinster: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Ciarán Frawley, 11 James Lowe, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock (captain), 5 Ryan Baird, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rónan Kelleher, 1 Andrew Porter.
Replacements: 16 Dan Sheehan, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Michael Ala’alatoa, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Max Deegan, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Jimmy O’Brien, 23 Tommy O’Brien.

Bath: 15 Tom de Glanville, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Will Butt, 12 Max Ojomoh, 11 Will Muir, 10 Orlando Bailey, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Josh Bayliss, 7 Richard de Carpentier, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Charlie Ewels (captain), 4 Josh McNally, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Lewis Boyce.
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Arthur Cordwell, 18 D’Arcy Rae, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Ewan Richards, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Gabe Hamer-Webb, 23 Tom Prydie.

Referee: Pierre Brousset (France)
Assistant referees: Luc Ramos (France), Flavien Hourquet (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)

Union Bordeaux-Bègles v Leicester Tigers
(Stade Chaban-Delmas – Kick-off: 16.15; 15.15 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Bordeaux-Bègles by 10 points

Teams

Bordeaux: 15 Nans Ducuing, 14 Federico Mori, 13 Jean-Baptiste Dubié, 12 Yoram Falatea-Moefana, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Maxime Lucu, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Bastien Vergnes, 6 Cameron Woki, 5 Thomas Jolmes, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Clement Maynadier, 1 Jefferson Poirot (captain).
Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Thierry Paiva, 18 Lekso Kaulashvili, 19 Alban Roussel, 20 Alexandre Roumat, 21 Yann Lesgourgues, 22 Ulupano Seuteni, 23 Santiago Cordero.

Leicester: 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Harry Potter, 13 Guy Porter, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Hosea Saumaki, 10 George Ford, 9 Jack van Poortvliet, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 George Martin, 5 Calum Green, 4 Ollie Chessum, 3 Joe Heyes, 2 Nic Dolly, 1 Ellis Genge (captain).
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 James Whitcombe, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Harry Wells, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Juan Pablo Socino, 23 Kini Murimurivalu.

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Eoghan Cross (Ireland), Oisin Quinn (Ireland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

ASM Clermont Auvergne v Ulster
(Stade Marcel-Michelin – Kick-off: 18.30; 17.30 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Clermont by eight points

Teams

Clermont: 15 Cheik Tiberghien, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Jean-Pascal Barraque, 12 Tani Vili, 11 Alivereti Raka, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Kevin Viallard, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Peceli Yato, 6 Arthur Iturria (captain), 5 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 4 Jacobus van Tonder, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Yohan Beheregaray, 1 Peni Ravai.
Replacements: 16 Benjamin Boudou, 17 Etienne Falgoux, 18 Cristian Ojovan, 19 Thibaud Lanen, 20 Lucas Dessaigne, 21 Sébastien Bézy, 22 Gabin Michet, 23 Marvin O’Connor.

Ulster: 15 Michael Lowry, 14 Robert Baloucoune, 13 James Hume, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Ethan McIlroy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 John Cooney, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Nick Timoney, 6 Marcus Rea, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Alan O’Connor (captain), 3 Tom O’Toole, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Andy Warwick.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Ross Kane, 19 Sam Carter, 20 Greg Jones, 21 Nathan Doak, 22 Stewart Moore, 23 Sean Reidy.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Hamish Smales (England), Jamie Leahy (England)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)

Exeter Chiefs v Montpellier Hérault
(Sandy Park – Kick-off: 20.00; 20.00 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Exeter by 15 points

Teams

Exeter: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Tom O’Flaherty, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Sam Skinner, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Jonny Gray, 3 Josh Iosefa-Scott, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie (captain), 1 Alec Hepburn.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 James Kenny, 18 Sam Nixon, 19 Don Armand, 20 Jannes Kirsten, 21 Sam Maunder, 22 Harvey Skinner, 23 Tom Gilbert-Hendrickson.

Montpellier: 15 Julien Tisseron, 14 Josua Vici, 13 Yvan Reilhac, 12 Thomas Darmon, 11 Gabriel N’gandebe, 10 Louis Foursans, 9 Gela Aprasidze, 8 Kelian Galletier (captain), 7 Jeremie Maurouard, 6 Nico Janse van Rensburg, 5 Bastien Chalureau, 4 Mickael Capelli, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Enzo Forletta.
Replacements: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Robert Rodgers, 18 Malik Hamadache, 19 Zach Mercer, 20 Aubin Eymeri, 21 Pierre Lucas, 22 Masivesi Dakuwaqa, 23 Tyler Duguid.

Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)
Assistant referees: Adam Jones (Wales), Rhys Jones (Wales)
TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)

Sunday, December 12

Ospreys v Sale Sharks
(Liberty Stadium – Kick-off: 13.00; 13.00 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Ospreys by eight points

Teams

Ospreys: 15 Mat Protheroe, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Rhys Webb (captain), 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Jac Morgan, 6 Will Griffiths, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Rhys Davies, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Jack Regan, 20 Ethan Roots, 21 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 22 Josh Thomas, 23 Tiaan Thomas Wheeler.

Sale: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Rob du Preez, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Raffi Quirke, 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Ben Curry, 6 Tom Curry (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Jean-Luc du Preez, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Ewan Ashman, 1 Bevan Rodd.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Sam Dugdale, 21 Gus Warr, 22 Sam James, 23 Luke James.

Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Manuel Bottino (Italy), Filippo Russo (Italy)
TMO: Stefano Penne (Italy)

Connacht v Stade Francais Paris
(The Sportsground – Kick-off: 13.00; 14.00 French time; 13.00 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Connacht by seven points

Teams

Connacht: 15 Oran McNulty, 14 Alex Wootton, 13 Shayne Bolton, 12 Sammy Arnold, 11 Mack Hansen, 10 Jack Carty (captain), 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Cian Prendergast, 5 Niall Murray, 4 Oisín Dowling, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Matthew Burke.
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Jordan Duggan, 18 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 19 Leva Fifita, 20 Seán Masterson, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Conor Fitzgerald, 23 Tom Farrell.

Stade Francais: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Paul Champ, 13 Alex Arrate, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Lester Etien, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 James Hall, 8 Tala Gray (captain), 7 Charlie Francoz, 6 Marcos Kremer, 4 Mathieu de Giovanni, 5 JJ van der Mescht, 3 Nemo Roelofse, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Quentin Bethune.
Replacements: 16 Lucas Da Silva, 17 Moses Alo-Emile, 18 Paul Alo Emile, 19 Paul Gabrillagues, 20 Loic Godener, 21 William Percillier, 22 Léo Barre, 23 Adrien Lapegue.

Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Anthony Woodthorpe (England), Paul Dix (England)
TMO: David Rose (England)

Wasps v Munster
(Coventry Stadium – Kick-off: 15.15; 15.15 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Munster by 12 points

Teams

Wasps: 15 Marcus Watson, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Michael Le Bourgeois, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Sam Wolstenholme, 8 Tom Willis, 7 Brad Shields (captain), 6 Alfie Barbeary, 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Sebastian de Chaves, 3 Biyi Alo, 2 Dan Frost, 1 Tom West.
Replacements: 16 Gabriel Oghre, 17 Robin Hislop, 18 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 19 Tim Cardall, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Thomas Young, 22 Will Porter, 23 Francois Hougaard.

Munster: 15 Patrick Campbell, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Daniel Okeke, 7 John Hodnett, 6 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Eoin O’Connor, 3 James French, 2 Scott Buckley, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Declan Moore, 17 Mark Donnelly, 18 Roman Salanoa, 19 John Forde, 20 Conor Moloney, 21 Ethan Coughlan, 22 Tony Butler, 23 Jonathan Wren.

Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Vincent Blasco Baqué (France), Stephane Boyer (France)
TMO: Denis Grenouillet (France)

Stade Rochelais v Glasgow Warriors
(Stade Marcel Deflandre – Kick-off: 16.15; 15.15 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Stade Rochelais by 15 points

Teams

La Rochelle: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Jules Favre, 13 Jérémy Sinzelle, 12 Levani Botia, 11 Arthur Retiere, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Grégory Alldritt (captain), 7 Victor Vito, 6 Paul Boudehent, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Romain Sazy, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Pierre Bourgarit, 1 Reda Wardi.
Replacements: 16 Guillaume Lagahe, 17 Dany Priso, 18 Ramiro Herrera, 19 Thomas Lavault, 20 Remi Bourdeau, 21 Pierre Popelin, 22 Eneriko Buliruarua, 23 Jonathan Danty.

Glasgow: 15 Josh McKay, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Sione Tuipulotu, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Rufus McLean, 10 Ross Thompson, 9 Ali Price (captain), 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Rory Darge, 6 Matt Fagerson, 5 Richie Gray, 4 Scott Cummings, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Oliver Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Johnny Matthews, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Lewis Bean, 20 Rob Harley, 21 Ally Miller, 22 George Horne, 23 Duncan Weir.

Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Tom Foley (England), Gareth Holsgrove (England)
TMO: Ian Tempest (England)

Castres Olympique v Harlequins
(Stade Pierre Fabre – Kick-off: 18.30; 17.30 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Castres by five points

Teams

Castres: 15 Thomas Larregain, 14 Martin Laveau, 13 Thomas Combezou, 12 Pierre Aguillon, 11 Filipo Nakosi, 10 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 9 Rory Kockott (captain), 8 Teariki Ben-Nicholas, 7 Josaia Raisuqe, 6 Nick Champion de Crespigny, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Théo Hannoyer, 3 Antoine Guillamon, 2 Paula Ngauamo, 1 Antoine Tichit.
Replacements: 16 Brice Humbert, 17 Julius Nostadt, 18 Matthew Tierney, 19 Thomas Staniforth, 20 Tyler Ardron, 21 Simon Meka, 22 Santiago Arata, 23 Louis Le Brun.

Harlequins: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Louis Lynagh, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Tom Lawday, 6 James Chisholm, 5 Stephan Lewies (captain), 4 Dino Lamb, 3 Will Collier, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Jack Musk, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Hugh Tizard, 20 Jack Kenningham, 21 Lewis Gjaltema, 22 Will Edwards, 23 Oscar Beard.

Referee: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)
Assistant referees: Shota Tevzadze (Georgia), Mathieu Raynal (France)
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (France)

PV: 5
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