Thu 19 Oct 2017 | 09:26

Preview: Champions Cup, Round Two

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Thu 19 Oct 2017 | 09:26

Preview: Champions Cup, Round Two


The fixture will be Ulster's 137th in the competition.

Elsewhere, there is a half-century theme across a crucial round of matches.

Bath secured their 50th success in the European Cup in Round One and head west Friday to kick-off the round against a Scarlets side looking to bounce back from the disappointment of a narrow defeat in Toulon.

The Top 14 side feature in the competition for the 50th time away to Benetton on Saturday when simultaneously, Ben Foden will reach the same appearance milestone if selected for Northampton Saints against ASM Clermont Auvergne at Stade Marcel-Michelin in Pool Two.

Other key points ahead of Round Two:
* For the second consecutive season, Munster face their record points scorer, Ronan O'Gara, now on the coaching staff at Racing 92. O'Gara is the all-time leading points scorer in the European Cup with 1,365.
* There are two domestic battles being played out on the European stage in Round Two. Wasps go in search of their first points in Pool One as they play host to Harlequins whilst Leinster travel to Guinness PRO14 rivals Glasgow Warriors.

We look at all the Round Two action!

Friday, October 20

Pool Five:

Scarlets v Bath
(Parc y Scarlets – Kick-off: 19.45; 18.45 GMT)

This will be just the second match in Europe between the clubs after they met in the 2002 quarterfinal, with the current PRO12 champions recording a 27-10 away win that day.

Scarlets are unbeaten in their last three home matches.

They have not gone four without defeat since 2006/07 when they reached the semifinals.

Bath have won nine of their last 12 against Welsh opposition in the competition, although they've not played against the regions since the 2008/09 pool stage when they faced the Dragons.

Bath were one of just two teams that didn't concede a try in Round One (also Ulster).

The two sides made exactly 285 metres each in Round One, the fewest of any teams in the competition.

Prediction: You would be wasting your money if you put it on a Bath win. Scarlets to win by 15 points or more.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Johnny Mcnicholl, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Tadhg Beirne, 7 Will Boyde, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Lewis Rawlins, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens (captain), 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Dylan Evans, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 David Bulbring, 20 Josh Macleod, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Paul Asquith, 23 Scott Williams.

Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Max Clark, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Zach Mercer, 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Charlie Ewels (captain), 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano.
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Paul Grant, 21 Darren Allinson, 22 Josh Lewis, 23 Matt Banahan.

Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Pierre Brousset (France), Stephane Boyer (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)

Saturday, October 21

Pool Three

Glasgow Warriors v Leinster
(Scotstoun Stadium – Kick-off: 13.00; 12.00 GMT)

The clubs have met six times in Europe's top flight. Glasgow won the first meeting in 1999, but Leinster have won all five games since then.

Glasgow have lost their last nine games against Irish opposition, including two defeats to Munster in last season's pool stage.

Leinster have won just two of their last 10 away games in the Champions Cup. The three-time champions are unbeaten in their last two on the road however.

Glasgow were one of two sides (also ASM Clermont Auvergne) to maintain a 100 percent success rates at both the scrum and line-out in Round One.

Jack Conan made 21 tackles against Montpellier in Round One, with no player making more (Judicael Cancoriet of Clermont also made 21).

Prediction: No doubt Warriors are the favourites, but with very short odds. We think Leinster will sneak it by five points.


Glasgow Warriors: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Samuel Johnson, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Leonardo Sarto, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Adam Ashe, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Ryan Wilson, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Jamie Bhatti.
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Alex Allan, 18 D'Arcy Rae, 19 Scott Cummings, 20 Robert Harley, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Nick Grigg, 23 Lee Jones.

Leinster: 15 Joey Carbery, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Barry Daly, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Scott Fardy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Michael Bent, 19 James Ryan, 20 Dan Leavy, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Dave Kearney.

Referee: Jerome Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Ludovic Cayre (France), Jonathan Dufort (France)
TMO: Philip Bonhoure (France)

Pool Two

ASM Clermont Auvergne v Northampton Saints
(Stade Marcel-Michelin – Kick-off: 16.15; 15.15 UK time; 14.15 GMT)

The clubs have met three times previously in the competition with ASM Clermont Auvergne winning each of those games by an average margin of 24 points.

Since losing to Sale in 2008, Clermont have won their last 23 home matches against opposition from outside France.

Saints have lost on their last eight trips to France, last winning in January 2011 against Castres.

Judicael Cancoriet made 21 tackles in Round One and Jack Conan of Leinster also made 21.

These teams managed just 12 defenders beaten each in Round One, no side beat fewer.

Prediction: This could get ugly for a Saints team in trouble. Clermont by at least 20 points.


Clermont: 15 Isaia Toeava, 14 David Strettle, 13 Damian Penaud, 12 Remi Lamerat, 11 Alivereti Raka, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Alexandre Lapandry, 6 Judicaël Cancoriet, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Flip Van Der Merwe, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Raphael Chaume.
Replacements: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Etienne Falgoux, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Paul Jedrasiak, 20 Camille Gerondeau, 21 Charlie Cassang, 22 Peter Betham, 23 Nick Abendanon.

Northampton Saints: 15 Harry Mallinder, 14 Ben Foden, 13 Nafi Tuitavake, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Christian Day, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 3 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Michael Paterson, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Tom Stephenson, 23 Ken Pisi.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris (Wales), Wayne Davies (Wales)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)

Pool Five:

Benetton v RC Toulon
(Stadio Comunale di Monigo – Kick-off: 16.15; 14.15 GMT)

This will be the first time RC Toulon have faced Italian opposition in the Champions Cup.

Benetton have lost their last nine against Top 14 opposition since a four-point win over Biarritz in 2011/12.

RC Toulon have lost their last three away games, their worst run away from home in the Champions Cup.

This will be Toulon's 50th game in the competition, and they become the seventh Top 14 club to reach this milestone.

Benetton were the only side who failed to score a point in Round One.

Prediction: Only serious punters will put any money on this game, as Toulon is at one-to-10. We think they will win by 15 or more.


Benetton: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Nacho Brex, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Luca Sperandio, 10 Ian McKinley, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Braam Steyn, 6 Nasi Manu, 5 Dean Budd, 4 Marco Lazzaroni, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Federico Zani.
Replacements: 16 Tomas Baravalle, 17 Cherif Traore, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Seb Negri Da Oleggio, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Francesco Minto, 23 Tommaso Benvenuti.

Toulon: 15 Chris Ashton, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Semi Radradra, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Anthony Meric, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Rudy Gahetau, 6 Juan Fernandez Lobbe, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Swan Rebbadj, 3 Marcel Van Der Merwe, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Florian Fresia.
Replacements: 16 Anthony Etrillard, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Levan Chilachava, 19 Mamuka Gorgodze, 20 Anthony Belleau, 21 Hugo Bonneval, 22 Vincent Clerc, 23 Jocelino Suta.

Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Greg Macdonald (England), Roy Maybank (England)
TMO: David Grashoff (England)

Pool Four

Leicester Tigers v Castres Olympique
(Welford Road – Kick-off: 17.30; 18.30 French time; 16.30 GMT)

This will be the first meeting between the clubs despite the two having played a combined 222 games in the European Cup (Leicester – 145, Castres – 77).

Tigers are unbeaten in their last 15 home games against Top 14 opposition; the last French side to win at Leicester was Biarritz in January 2005.

Castres have not won away to Premiership opposition since October 2001 (v Harlequins), since then they have drawn one and lost 10 away games in England.

Tigers have lost three games on the bounce for the first time in their European history.

Castres were one of three sides not to lose a ruck when in possession in Round One; Leicester had the lowest ruck success rate with 93 percent.

Prediction: Leicester have not been in the greatest form, but at home they should have enough to overcome the French visitors – by less than 10 points though.


Leicester Tigers: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Nick Malouf, 13 Gareth Owen, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Luke Hamilton, 6 Valentino Mapapalangi, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Dom Barrow, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Ellis Genge.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Greg Bateman, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Dan Tuohy, 20 Brendon O’Connor, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Mathew Tait.

Castres Olympique: 15 Armand Batlle, 14 Taylor Paris, 13 Thomas Combezou, 12 Afusipa Taumoepeau, 11 David Smith, 10 Yohan Le Bourhis, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Alex Tulou, 7 Anthony Jelonch, 6 Yannick Caballero, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Damien Tussac, 2 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 1 Mihaita Lazar.
Replacements: 16 Jody Jenneker, 17 Tudor Stroe, 18 Eric Sione, 19 Christophe Samson, 20 Baptiste Delaporte, 21 Florian Vialelle, 22 Kylian Jaminet, 23 Ludovic Radosavljevic.

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Sean Gallagher (Ireland), Mark Patton (Ireland)
TMO: Brian McNeice (Ireland)

Pool Four

Munster v Racing 92
(Thomond Park – Kick-off: 17.30; 18.30 French time; 16.30 GMT)

The clubs met in the pool stage last season with Munster winning both matches; overall the Irish province has won three of their four meetings, with Racing winning the first encounter in 2012/13.

Munster have won 28 of their last 30 home matches in the pool stage, with only Leicester Tigers and ASM Clermont Auvergne coming away with victories from Thomond Park during that run.

Racing have lost their last four away games, their worst run on the road in Europe.

Munster drew against Castres in Round One – the last time they drew a European fixture was in October 1998 against Neath.

The Top 14 side have lost five of six previous games against Irish opposition, including all three of their away games.

Prediction: Munster saving grace may be that French teams are notoriously poor travellers. Munster to win with a late score – seven points or less.


Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Christiaan Stander, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Billy Holland, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Kevin O'Byrne, 17 Liam O'Connor, 18 John Ryan, 19 Mark Flanagan, 20 Jack O'Donoghue, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Andrew Conway.

Racing 92: 15 Pat Lambie, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Henry Chavancy, 12 Anthony Tuitavake, 11 Louis Dupichot, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Yannick Nyanga, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Bernard Le Roux, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Camille Chat, 1 Eddy Ben Arous.
Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Viliamu Afatia, 18 Census Johnston, 19 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 20 Edwin Maka, 21 Teddy Iribaren, 22 Remi Tales, 23 Albert Vulivuli.

Referee: JP Doyle (England)
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce (England), Simon McConnell (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

Pool Two

Saracens v Ospreys
(Allianz Park – Kick-off: 19.45; 18.45 GMT)

Saracens have won the three previous meetings between the clubs, although all three victories came by single figure margins.

Saracens have won their last 13 home games in the Champions Cup, with just two sides (RC Toulon, ASM Clermont Auvergne) managing to get within losing bonus point range during that run.

The Ospreys are winless in their last 10 away games against Premiership opposition.

Their last success was in England in January 2007 against Sale Sharks.

Liam Williams was one of four players to score two tries on the opening weekend, he also made more metres (125) and breaks (six) than any other player.

Owen Farrell scored 17 points last weekend, more than any other player in Round One.

Prediction: There is so much money on Saracens that some bookmakers are offering ridiculous odds in one-to-100 for a Saracens win. The margin will be well into double figures – by 25 points or more.


Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Maro Itoje, 5 George Kruis, 4 Nick Isiekwe, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Nick Tompkins.

Ospreys: 15 Daniel Evans, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Cory Allen, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Thomas Habberfield, 8 James King, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Paul James, 18 Ma'afu Fia, 19 Lloyd Ashley, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Brendon Leonard, 22 Sam Davies, 23 James Hook.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Manuel Bottino (Italy), Matteo Liperini (Italy)
TMO: Stefano Penne (Italy)

Sunday, October 22

Pool Three

Montpellier v Exeter Chiefs
(Altrad Stadium – Kick-off: 14.00; 13.00 UK time; 12.00 GMT)

This will be the third time the clubs have met in Europe after they clashed in the 2010/11 Challenge Cup pool stage; Montpellier won both encounters although Exeter claimed a losing bonus point in each match.

Montpellier have won their last four home games in the Champions Cup; they've been beaten just four times at home in the competition overall.

Exeter won away from home against Bordeaux-Bègles last season, their only win in the competition in France.

Montpellier managed 34 defenders beaten in Round One, more than any other side and more than twice as many as Exeter (16).

Nemani Nadolo made more carries (21) and beat more defenders (11) than any other player on the opening weekend.

Prediction: The defending Premiership champions, Exeter, are struggling in the early stages of the season and it won't get any easier in France. Montpellier to in by about 10 points.


Montpellier: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Benjamin Fall, 13 Joseph Tomane, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Benoit Paillaugue, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Yacouba Camara, 6 Kelian Galletier, 5 Nicholaas van Rensburg, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Antoine Guillamon, 2 Romain Ruffenach, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili.
Replacements: 16 Charles Geli, 17 Grégory Fichten, 18 Davit Kubriashvili, 19 Julien Delannoy, 20 Wiaan Liebenberg, 21 Enzo Sanga, 22 Timoci Nagusa, 23 Joffrey Michel.

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Nic White, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Don Armand, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle (captain), 1 Ben Moon .
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Tom Hendrickson, 23 James Short.

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Joy Neville (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

Pool One

La Rochelle v Ulster
(Stade Marcel-Deflandre – Kick-off: 16.15; 15.15 UK time; 14.15 GMT)

This will be the first meeting between the clubs with La Rochelle staging a Champions Cup game for the first time.

Ulster have lost their last two games away to Top 14 opposition, both in last season's campaign, this after winning four of their previous five away games in France.

At home, La Rochelle have won their last five European pool stage games (all Challenge Cup), with four of those victories coming by 20+ points.

Ulster were one of just two teams that didn't concede a try in the opening round (also Bath).

Ulster won all 11 of their scrums against Wasps, no side won more in Round One.

Prediction: It won't be as big a margin as some pundits think, but La Rochelle should still win – by eight points.


La Rochelle: 15 Vincent Rattez, 14 Gabriel Lacroix, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Pierre Aguillon, 11 Jérémy Sinzelle, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Alexi Bales, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Kevin Gourdon, 6 Botia Veivuke, 5 Jone Qovu Nailiko, 4 Jason Eaton, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Hikairo Forbes, 1 Dany Priso.
Replacements: 16 Pierre Bourgarit, 17 Mike Corbel, 18 Vincent Pelo, 19 William Demotte, 20 Romain Sazy, 21 Jean-Victor Goillot, 22 Paul Jordaan, 23 Elliot Roudil.

Ulster: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Tommy Bowe, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Sean Reidy, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Iain Henderson (captain), 5 Alan O'Connor, 4 Kieran Treadwell, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 Rory Best, 17 Kyle McCall, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Robbie Diack, 20 Matty Rea, 21 John Cooney, 22 Luke Marshall, 23 Jacob Stockdale.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Simon Rees (Wales), Jon Hardy (Wales)
TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)

Pool One

Wasps v Harlequins
(Ricoh Arena – Kick-off: 17.30; 16.30 GMT)

The clubs have met twice previously in the Champions Cup, clashing in the 2014/15 pool stage with the away side on the day winning each encounter.

Wasps have lost just three of their last 31 European Cup home games, however all three defeats came against Premiership opposition (Leicester – 2004/05, Harlequins – 2014/15, Bath – 2015/16).

Harlequins have won nine of their last 12 away games, and picked up a losing bonus point in each of their three defeats in that run.

Wasps have lost their last two games in this competition, but they've not lost three on the spin since 2000.

Only Ospreys (24 minutes, 38 seconds) enjoyed more possession than Quins (22 minutes, 25 seconds) in Round One.

Prediction: Harlequins are struggling and Wasps look a save bet – by 12 points.


Wasps: 15 Willie Le Roux, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Thomas Young, 6 James Haskell, 5 Will Rowlands, 4 Joe Launchbury (captain), 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Ashley Johnson, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Antonio TJ Harris, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Marty Moore, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Jack Willis, 21 Guy Thompson, 22 Joe Simpson, 23 Rob Miller.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Dave Ward, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Charlie Matthews, 3 Will Collier, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Elia Elia, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 George Merrick, 20 Ben Glynn, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Francis Saili.

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Laurent Cardona (France), Mathieu Noirot (France)
TMO: Eric Briquet Campin (France)

Source: @ChampionsCup


PV: 2
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