Sport Champions Cup

Thursday 30 March 2017

Heineken cup: Guide to the other games

Pool 4

Biarritz v Bath,

Parc des Sports Aguilera, today, 2.30. Sky Sports Red Button

Team news: Biarritz, who need to match or better Ulster's result in Italy to finish top of the pool, have shifted Damien Traille from fly-half to centre as Julien Peyrelongue comes into the team at No 10. Pelu Taele also comes into the starting side in place of Jerome Thion.

Bath can give themselves a chance of nicking a best runners-up spot should they win in France. Butch James is at 10, with four-try hero from the last day, Matt Banahan, on the wing.

Stat: Michael Claassens makes his 100th appearance for Bath.

One to watch: Biarritz's Iain Balshaw always relishes the visit of English sides.

Verdict: Biarritz are too experienced to slip up.

Pool 3

Ospreys v Toulon,

Liberty Stadium, today, 3.30. Sky Sports 1

Team news: After their win over Munster, Toulon have made a host of changes, even though they need a win to make sure of a home quarter-final. Jonny Wilkinson is the only survivor from last weekend as Philippe Saint Andre makes 14 changes, though former All Black Carl Hayman does return.

The Ospreys are battling it out with Munster for a possible Challenge Cup spot after their defeat to London Irish, but Shane Williams and Mike Phillips are left on the bench.

Stat: Ospreys have won exactly half of their 50 matches in the competition.

One to watch: Carl Hayman turned down a chance to feature for New Zealand in this year's World Cup to stay in Europe.

Verdict: Ospreys to bite back.

Pool 1

Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues, Murrayfield, today, 5.45. sky Sports Red Button

Team news: Cardiff have to win and need other results to go their way if they are to have any chance of reaching the Challenge Cup and the visitors have named an unchanged side from the one that beat Castres.

Edinburgh have made five changes to their line-up, with Lee Jones, Simon Webster, Allan Jacobsen, Lewis Niven and David Denton all handed starts, though they are without the injured Tim Visser and the ill David Blair for clash in Scotland.

Stat: No Cardiff player has scored more than one try in the competition so far this season.

One to watch: Jamie Roberts is edging back towards full match fitness.

Verdict: Edinburgh have little to play for, so Cardiff should prevail.

Pool 1

Castres v Northampton Saints, Stade Pierre Antoine, today, 6.45. Sky Sports 1

Team news: Northampton are already through to the last eight, but a home quarter-final is far from certain and Jim Mallinder has made no secret of his desire to secure a favourable draw in the last eight. Former Ulster man Roger Wilson starts at No 8, while James Downey is in midfield.

Castres are looking to bounce back from defeat in Scotland and seem keen on the Challenge Cup as they have called in the likes of Chris Masoe, Benjamin Kayser, Scott Murray and Sebastien Tillous-Borde in a bid to secure further European rugby this season.

Stat: Castres have yet to lose at home this season in either the Heineken Cup or Top 14.

One to watch: Wing Paul Diggin touched down for four tries last weekend.

Verdict: Castres' home record to stay intact.

Pool 5

Leicester Tigers v Treviso, Welford Road, tomorrow, 1.0. Sky Sports 3

Team news: Leicester, who have to win this game to keep their Heineken Cup chances alive, have kept the same 23-man squad that beat Scarlets, with the only change in the line-up seeing England's Dan Cole starting at tight-head, with Martin Castrogiovanni named among the replacements.

Leicester's Italian visitors Treviso have made eight changes in all. Kristopher Burton and Fabio Semenzato replace Willem de Waal and Tobias Botes as the half-back pairing, while Joe Maddock returns to the wing.

Stat: Louis Deacon captains the Tigers in his 200th start.

One to watch: Manu Tuilagi did much to rescue the Tigers in Wales last weekend.

Verdict: Leicester's bonus point.

Pool 5

Perpignan v Scarlets,

Stade Aime Giral, tomorrow, 2.0. Sky sports 2

Team news: Perpignan will expect Leicester Tigers to run in a bonus point against Treviso and will look to do the same to give themselves a chance of having a home tie in the last eight.

Florian Cazenave comes into the starting line-up at scrum-half for David Mele, but Perpignan -- like all of the French sides -- must also consider the round of domestic fixtures in France which take place on Wednesday night.

Stat: Perpignan average three tries a game against the Scarlets in the Heineken Cup.

One to watch: Perpignan's top Heineken Cup try-scorer Julien Candelon

Verdict: Perpignan to win, but a bonus point is too much to ask.

Pool 6

Wasps v Toulouse, Adams Park, tomorrow, 3.0. Sky sports 2

Team news: As ever, Toulouse are in a strong position, needing just a point to secure a home quarter-final. They have made nine changes but they still boast an impressive side. Clement Poitrenaud shifts from inside centre to full-back with Maxime Medard on the wing and Cedric Heymans on the bench. Florian Fritz joins Yannick Jauzion in midfield.

Andy Powell, Serge Betsen and Joe Worsley make up an experienced back-row for Wasps with Zak Taulafo, Tom Lindsay and Tim Payne lining up in the front-row.

Stat: Toulouse and Wasps have won the Heineken Cup six times between them.

One to watch: Jean-Marc Doussain is a big prospect at scrum-half.

Verdict: Wasps' pride should be enough to see them home.

Pool 6

Newport Gwent Dragons v Glasgow Warriors, Rodney Parade, tomorrow, 3.0. Sky Sports Red Button

Team news: This is the only game where nothing is at stake as neither side can reach either the Heineken Cup or Challenge Cup quarter-finals. Warriors have made two changes for the trip to Rodney Parade, with DTH van der Merwe and Jon Welsh coming into the side.

Canada winger Van der Merwe replaces Hefin O'Hare, while Welsh gets the nod ahead of Ryan Grant at loose-head. The Dragons have named Rob Sidoli and Luke Charteris in the second-row, while Thomas Willis skippers the side from hooker.

Stat: The Dragons have averaged just 16 points a game in this competition.

One to watch: Will Harries at full-back for the Dragons.

Verdict: Dragons.

Irish Independent

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