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Thu 9 Jan 2020 | 09:08

Preview: European Cup, Round Five

Preview: European Cup, Round Five
Thu 9 Jan 2020 | 09:08
Preview: European Cup, Round Five
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IN THE HOME STRAIGHT: French Top 14 giants Racing 92 and Toulouse can clinch quarterfinal spots with victories over Irish opposition this weekend.

Racing, two-time runners up, host Munster in Pool Four on Sunday, while record four-time winners Toulouse head to Connacht in Pool Five on Saturday in the penultimate round of the group stages.

The Parisians’ coach Laurent Labit says John van Graan’s men have an advantage as they were able to make 10 changes for last Friday’s Pro14 defeat at Ulster.

“When you see the team, you see the importance they put on that. Qualifying from their league [for next season], they’ll do it,” Labit said.

“They haven’t got much to fight for and they prepare enormously for the Champions Cup,” he added.

South African Van Graan will be without Ireland flyhalf Joey Carbery who has been ruled out for up to four months with a wrist injury.

With Kiwi Taylor Bleyendaal sidelined due to a neck problem and experienced JJ Hanrahan a doubt for the trip to the French capital, Van Graan could be forced to turn to 20-year-old Ben Healy or centre Rory Scannell to wear the No.10 shirt.

“Ben has grown quite a lot over the last few weeks – he’s been part of game-day warm-ups, he’s been part of the squad and Rory has trained there,” Van Graan said.

Toulouse to ‘freshen up’

Unlike Labit’s side, who are unbeaten in five games, last season’s semifinalists Toulouse have stumbled recently in the league by drawing at home to Toulon and losing convincingly at bottom-side Stade Francais on Sunday.

“For sure we have to change gear, freshen up and start again in a better way,” Toulouse back row forward Francois Cros said after the defeat in Paris.

“Certainly in the Top 14 we have tripped up but in the European Cup we have four wins so it’s up to us not to tarnish those matches,” Cros, who was named in France’s Six Nations squad this week, added.

Another Top 14 outfit Clermont, can take a step closer to the last eight by beating Ulster at Stade Marcel-Michelin on Saturday before travelling to Harlequins a week later.

“It’s not a double or quits match. It’s not going to knock us out in this pool but what we want is to qualify for a quarterfinal and quickly,” coach Franck Azema said.

Elsewhere, reigning European champions Saracens, who are a point behind Munster in the standings, head to the Ospreys who are without a win in any competition since October.

Exeter Chiefs head to Glasgow looking to tie up a last-eight place and Gloucester host Montpellier needing a victory to keep their hopes of progression alive.

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We look at all the Round Five matches!

Friday, January 10

La Rochelle v Sale Sharks
(Stade Marcel Deflandre, La Rochelle – Kick-off: 20.45; 19.45 UK time)

La Rochelle and Sale Sharks have a chance to move into second spot in Pool Two.

This is also a rematch of last season’s Challenge Cup semifinal, with the hosts narrowly coming out on top before falling to ASM Clermont Auvergne in the Final.

La Rochelle and Sale have met twice in European competition and have shared a win apiece.

La Rochelle defeated Glasgow in Round Four, ending a run of four straight defeats in the competition. They had won four of their last six previous to that.

Sale has won just twice away to Top 14 opposition in the Champions Cup, with the last victory coming at Clermont in October 2008.

La Rochelle is the only side with a 100 percent scrum success rate this season, winning each of their 31 scrums on their own put-in.

La Rochelle’s Vincent Rattez has beaten 23 defenders, more than any other player.

The teams:

La Rochelle: 15 Jérémy Sinzelle, 14 Tevita Railevu, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Levani Botia, 11 Arthur Retiere, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Grégory Alldritt, 7 Wiaan Liebenberg, 6 Kevin Gourdon (captain), 5 Rémi Leroux, 4 Thomas Lavault, 3 Sila Puafisi, 2 Pierre Bourgarit, 1 Reda Wardi.
Replacements: 16 Brendan Lebrun, 17 Mike Corbel, 18 Uini Atonio, 19 Lopeti Timani, 20 Zeno Kieft, 21 Thomas Berjon, 22 Brock James, 23 Kini Murimurivalu.

Sale Sharks: 15 Luke James, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Sam James (captain), 12 James Williams, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Ben Curry, 6 Jean-Luc du Preez, 5 James Phillips, 4 Matt Postlewhaite, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Valery Morozov, 18 Callum Ford, 19 Sam Dugdale, 20 Cameron Neild, 21 Gus Warr, 22 Joe Carpenter, 23 Chris Ashton.

Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Sam Grove-White (Scotland), Finlay Brown (Scotland)
TMO: Neil Patterson (Scotland)

Bath v Harlequins
(Recreation Ground, Bath – Kick-off: 19.45)

Bath can leapfrog Harlequins with a win over their English counterparts in a Pool Three encounter.

Neither side can finish in the top two of Pool Three, with just one win between them, a victory for Harlequins in the reverse fixture last year.

Bath and Harlequins have met three previously in European competition, with Bath winning both Challenge Cup encounters in 2006/07, however, Harlequins won their only Champions Cup meeting to date in Round Two.

Harlequins have won five of their last seven Champions Cup games against Premiership opposition, including each of their last two in a row.

Bath have lost each of their last five Champions Cup games, their longest run without a victory in Europe’s top tier.

Harlequins have made the fewest carries this season, although Bath have made the fewest breaks and metres.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Anthony Watson (captain), 14 Gabe Hamer-Webb, 13 Max Wright, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Max Green, 8 Josh Bayliss, 7 Mike Williams, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Rhys Davies, 4 Matt Garvey, 3 Christian Judge, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Lewis Boyce.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Sam Nixon, 19 Levi Douglas, 20 Nahum Merigan, 21 Ollie Fox, 22 Alex Davies, 23 Tom de Glanville.

Harlequins: 15 Aaron Morris, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Luke Northmore, 12 Paul Lasike, 11 Gabriel Ibitoye, 10 Brett Herron, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 James Chisholm, 5 Dino Lamb, 4 Tevita Cavubati, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Max Crumpton, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Jack Musk, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Will Collier, 19 Glen Young, 20 Semi Kunatani, 21 Niall Saunders, 22 Tom Penny, 23 Ross Chisholm.

Referee: Pascal Gaüzère (France)
Assistant referees: Maxime Chalon (France), Julien Dufort (France)
TMO: Éric Gauzins (France)

Saturday, January 11

Ospreys v Saracens
(Liberty Stadium, Swansea – Kick-off: 13.00)

Defending champions Saracens will be aiming to keep their fading hopes of retaining the Champions Cup alive.

Saracens are unbeaten against the Ospreys in the Champions Cup although they were held to a draw the last time they visited the Liberty Stadium in 2017/18.

Saracens have lost just two of their 14 matches against Welsh opposition in the Champions Cup and are unbeaten in their last 10 such matches since defeat to Cardiff Blues in 2000.

The Ospreys have lost their five Champions Cup games, their worst run since losing their initial five games in the competition in 2003/04.

Ospreys and Saracens have each conceded just 29 penalties, fewer than any other side after four rounds.

Billy Vunipola made 23 carries in Round Four, and no player made more while teammate George Kruis made the joint second most tackles (25).

Teams:

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 George North, 12 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Luke Price, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Sam Cross, 6 Dan Lydiate (captain), 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 2 Scott Otten, 1 Darryl Marfo
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Rhys Fawcett, 18 Simon Gardiner, 19 Lloyd Ashley, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Cai Evans, 23 Lesley Klim

Saracens: 15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Alex Lozowski, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Manu Vunipola, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray (captain), 7 Calum Clark, 6 Nick Isiekwe, 5 George Kruis, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Titi Lamositele, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Rhys Carre
Replacements: 16 Tom Woolstencroft, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Joel Kpoku, 20 Sean Reffell, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Rotimi Segun, 23 Ali Crossdale

Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France)
Assistant referees: Ludovic Cayre (France), Cedric Marchat (France)
TMO: Patrick Dellac (France)

ASM Clermont Auvergne v Ulster
(Stade Marcel-Michelin, Clermont-Ferrand – Kick-off: 14.00; 13.00 UK time)

A place in the quarterfinals could be decided on Saturday.

Ulster won the reverse fixture in Belfast, but have had their lead cut with – Clermont picking up four bonus points.

ASM Clermont Auvergne and Ulster have met five times previously in the Champions Cup, with each game won by the home side on the day.

Clermont has won 30 of their last 31 home pool games in the Champions Cup. Sale Sharks were the last club from outside of France to win at Marcel-Michelin in the competition (Round 1, 2008/09).

Ulster has won four of their last five away games in the tournament, more than they’d won in their previous 13 games on the road.

Clermont is the top points scorers (152) this season, with the joint-most tries (20, level with Leinster).

Ulster is the only side yet to concede a try in the opening 20 minutes this season, however, no one has scored more than Clermont in the opening quarter of their fixtures (6, level with Leinster).

Clermont and Ulster are two of just four clubs yet to be shown a card of any colour to date, along with Lyon and Toulouse.

Clermont has conceded five tries from mauls this season, two more than any other side, while only Bath (3) have scored more tries from mauls than Ulster (2, level with Sale and Glasgow).

Ulster has retained 28 of their 112 kicks from hand, 12 more than Clermont who have retained the second most kicks (16/95).

Teams:

Clermont: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Isaia Toeava, 12 George Moala, 11 Alivereti Raka, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Alexandre Lapandry, 6 Arthur Iturria, 5 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 4 Paul Jedrasiak, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Etienne Falgoux.
Replacements: 16 Yohan Beheregaray, 17 Loni Uhila, 18 Sipili Falatea, 19 Sitaleki Timani, 20 Alexandre Fischer, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Jake McIntyre, 23 Apisai Naqalevu

Ulster: 15 Will Addison, 14 Robert Baloucoune, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Billy Burns, 9 John Cooney, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Sean Reidy, 5 Iain Henderson, 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 Adam McBurney, 17 Eric O’Sullivan, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Matthew Rea, 21 David Shanahan, 22 Bill Johnston, 23 Matt Faddes

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Dan Jones (Wales), Adam Jones (Wales)
TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)

Glasgow Warriors v Exeter Chiefs
(Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow – Kick-off: 15.15)

Exeter Chiefs will seal a spot in the play-offs for just the second time in their history with a win over Glasgow Warriors.

The visitors have won all four matches in the competition this season and sit 10 points clear of the Scottish side in Pool Two, who currently occupy second spot.

This will be the sixth meeting between Glasgow and Exeter Chiefs in the Champions Cup. The Warriors have won three of the previous five clashes, including both home games.

Glasgow has won nine of their last 11 home games against Premiership opposition, with only Saracens and Northampton Saints managing to win at Scotstoun in that spell.

Exeter is one of four clubs with a 100 percent win rate in the Champions Cup this season, along with Leinster, Ulster and Toulouse. The Chiefs’ current four-game winning run is their best in Europe’s top flight.

If Exeter manages to continue that run, they will be guaranteed a place in the quarterfinals for the second time in their history.

Exeter has won their last two away games and is aiming to win three in a row on the road for the first time in European competition.

Exeter has conceded just 39 turnovers this season, fewer than any other side, however, they’ve also won the fewest turnovers (14).

Exeter has scored six tries in the 20-minute period after half time, more than any other side and five more than Glasgow.

Teams:

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Glenn Bryce, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Kyle Steyn, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 George Horne, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Callum Gibbins (captain), 6 Ryan Wilson, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Scott Cummings, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Oli Kebble
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Adam Nicol, 19 Rob Harley, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 Ali Price, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Niko Matawalu

Exeter Chiefs:  15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Joe Simmonds (captain), 9 Nic White, 8 Matt Kvesic, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Sean Lonsdale, 4 Jannes Kirsten, 3 Enrique Pieretto, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Alec Hepburn
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Marcus Street, 19 Will Witty, 20 Don Armand, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Sam Hill

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

Connacht v Toulouse
(The Sportsground, Galway – Kick-off: 15.15; 16.15 French time)

Toulouse will qualify for another quarterfinal if they can see off Connacht.

The French side has won their opening four matches and have a lead of nine points at the top of Pool Five, while Connacht sit third with eight points.

Toulouse has won five of their previous seven meetings with Connacht in the Champions Cup, including their Round 2 clash this season, however, they did lose the last time they faced the Irish province in Galway in 2016/17.

Since losing to Connacht in Round 1 in 2016/17, Toulouse has lost just twice in 15 pool games, winning each of their last five in a row.

If the TOP 14 champions win on Saturday, they will book a place in the quarter-finals as Pool Five winners.

Connacht has won each of their last six home games in the Champions Cup, although four of those victories were by three points or fewer.

Toulouse has won five of their last six away games in the Champions Cup, including their last three in a row. No side has won as many away matches as Toulouse in the competition’s history (42).

Toulouse has lost on each of their last six trips to Ireland, those defeats coming by an average margin of 21 points. Their last victory away to an Irish province was against Saturday’s opponents in 2013/14.

Toulouse is the only side yet to concede a try in the final 20 minutes of a match this season, while Connacht has conceded seven in the final quarter, more than any other club.

Teams:

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Bundee Aki, 12 Peter Robb, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Stephen Kerins, 8 Jarrad Butler (captain), 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Paul Boyle, 5 Gavin Thornbury, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Paddy McAllister
Replacements: 16 David Heffernan, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Dominic Roberston-McCoy, 19 Joe Makysmiw, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 David Horwitz, 23 John Porch

Toulouse: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Arthur Bonneval, 13 Sofiane Guitoune, 12 Pita Ahki, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Zack Holmes, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Selevasio Tolofua, 7 Jerome Kaino (captain), 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Joe Tekori, 4 Florian Verhaeghe, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Clement Castets
Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Rodrigue Neti, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Rory Arnold, 20 Alban Placines, 21 Sébastien Bézy, 22 Romain Ntamack, 23 Yoann Huget

Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Ian Tempest (England), Simon McConnell (England)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

Gloucester v Montpellier
(Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester – Kick-off: 17.30; 18.30 French time)

Gloucester and Montpellier will face off for just the second time in the Champions Cup.

The two sides met back in Round Two, with the French side narrowly coming out on top in a 30-27 win at GGL Stadium.

Montpellier have won just once away to Premiership opposition in the Champions Cup, that victory coming against Sale Sharks in 2012/13.

Gloucester has lost each of their last three matches against TOP 14 opposition in the Champions Cup, this after winning four in a row before that.

Gloucester has made the most tackles while Montpellier has won the most turnovers this season.

Gloucester’s Alex Craig made 28 tackles in Round 4 which is the highest total any player has recorded this season.

Teams:

Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Willi Heinz (captain), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Lewis Ludlow, 6 Ruan Ackermann, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Gerbrandt Grobler, 3 Ciaran Knight, 2 Todd Gleave, 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Henry Walker, 17 Alex Seville, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Alex Craig, 20 Freddie Clarke, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Mark Atkinson, 23 Owen Williams

Montpellier: 15 Frans Steyn, 14 Calum Randle, 13 Johan Goosen, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Henry Immelman, 10 Thomas Darmon, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Jacques du Plessis, 7 Julien Bardy, 6 Kelian Galletier (captain), 5 Konstantine Mikautadze, 4 Julien Le Devedec, 3 Antoine Guillamon, 2 Vincent Giudicelli, 1 Usha Tcheisvhili
Replacements: 16 Youri Delhommel, 17 Luka Azariashvili, 18 Valentin Seille, 19 Kevin Kornath, 20 Gela Aprasidze, 21 Handré Pollard, 22 Théo Layglon, 23 Paul Willemse

Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Robert O’Sullivan (Ireland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

Sunday, January 12

Leinster v Lyon
(RDS Arena , Dublin – Kick-off: 13.00; 14.00 French time)

Leinster, who have already qualified for the last eight, will aim to make their own piece of pool history when they entertain Lyon.

The Irish province are currently on an eight-match winning run in the pool stage and have never won nine pool matches in a row.

Lyon are seeking their first ever away win in the Heineken Champions Cup following five successive defeats on the road.

Leinster have the best line-out success rate in this season’s competition with 93 percent.

Leinster back Jordan Larmour has made the most metres in the tournament this term with 335.

Teams:

Leinster: 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Dave Kearney, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Max Deegan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Scott Fardy (captain), 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 James Tracy, 1 Cian Healy
Replacements: 16 Seán Cronin, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Caelan Doris, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ciarán Frawley, 23 Rob Kearney

Lyon: 15 Toby Arnold, 14 Xavier Mignot, 13 Ethan Dumortier, 12 Thibaut Regard (captain), 11 Noa Nakaitaci, 10 Jean-Marcellin Buttin, 9 Jonathan Pélissié, 8 Virgile Bruni, 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Killian Geraci, 5 Hendrik Roodt, 4 Martial Rolland, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Badri Alkhazashvili, 1 Hamza Kaabèche
Replacements: 16 Jeremie Maurouard, 17 Raphael Chaume, 18 Kévin Yaméogo, 19 Tanginoa Halaifonua, 20 Felix Lambey, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Joris Moura, 23 Josua Tuisova

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris (Wales), Mike English (Wales)
TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)

Northampton Saints v Benetton
(Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton – Kick-off: 13.00; 14.00 Italian time)

Northampton Saints, second in Pool One, will look to keep their hopes of quarterfinal qualification alive by extending their 100 percent record against Benetton in the competition.

The English club have won all five of their meetings with Benetton in Europe’s elite club tournament.

Northampton have won all 10 of their matches against Italian opposition in European competition, averaging 39 points per game.

Northampton boast the best ruck success rate in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup of 98 percent.

Benetton will be trying for their first back-to-back victories in the tournament since 2004/05.

Teams:

Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Harry Mallinder, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 James Grayson, 9 Henry Taylor, 8 Teimana Harrison (captain), 7 Lewis Ludlam, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 David Ribbans, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Sam Matavesi, 1 Francois van Wyk
Replacements: 16 James Fish, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Alex Coles, 20 Mitch Eadie, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Andy Symons, 23 Ollie Sleightholme

Benetton: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Alberto Sgarbi (captain), 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Marco Barbini, 7 Giovanni Pettinelli, 6 Marco Lazzaroni, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Hame Faiva, 1 Nicola Quaglio
Replacements: 16 Engjel Makelara, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Cherif Traore, 19 Eli Snyman, 20 Marco Fuser, 21 Charly Trussardi, 22 Antonio Rizzi, 23 Marco Zanon

Referee: Pierre Brousset (France)
Assistant referees: Tual Trainini (France), Pierre-Baptiste Nuchy (France)
TMO: Eric Briquet-Campin (France)

Racing 92 v Munster
(Paris La defence Arena, Paris – Kick-off: 16.15; 15.15 UK time)

The 2018 runners-up, Racing 92, can clinch a spot in the quarterfinals with a win over Munster, topping Pool Four in the process.

In a repeat of the 2018 semifinal, Munster will have to do without Joey Carbery this weekend – who is missing due to injury – while former Munster wing Simon Zebo is out for the hosts.

Racing 92 are unbeaten in their last three meetings with Munster in the Champions Cup, after losing four of their initial five fixtures.

Racing have lost just one of their last 13 pool games, their solitary defeat in that run was by Irish opposition, however, (v Ulster in Round Five last season).

If Racing win on Sunday they will book their place in the quarter-finals as Pool Four winners.

Munster lost in Round 4 (v Saracens), however, they’ve not lost consecutive matches in the competition since 2015/16 when they lost three in a row.

Racing have made the most metres (2,048), breaks (65), offloads (45) and beaten the most defenders (130) this season.

Munster have missed just 64 tackles, fewer than any other side, and as a result have the best tackle success rate in the competition (90 percent).

Only Ulster (1) have conceded fewer first half tries than Munster (2), but Racing have scored more (12) than any other side in this period.

Munster have retained just six of 100 kicks in play, and only Connacht (2/75) have retained fewer. Racing have retained 14/95, the fifth best total in the competition.

Teams:

Racing 92: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Henry Chavancy (captain), 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Teddy Iribaren, 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Bernard Le Roux, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Boris Palu, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Camille Chat, 1 Eddy Ben Arous
Replacements: 16 Teddy Baubigny, 17 Hassane Kolingar, 18 Cedate Gomes Sa, 19 Donnacha Ryan, 20 Fabien Sanconnie, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Ben Volavola, 23 Olivier Klemenczak

Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Keith Earls, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Jack O’Donoghue, 6 Peter O’Mahony (captian), 5 Billy Holland, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Kevin O’Byrne, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 John Ryan, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Chris Cloete, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Dan Goggin, 23 Shane Daly.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Christophe Ridley (England), Paul Dix (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

* Additional reporting by @ChampionsCup

PV: 1276


Preview: European Cup, Round Five | Rugby365