Friday 27 April 2018

Heineken Cup: Guide to the other games

Pool 4: Aironi v Biarritz

Stadio Zaffanella, today, 2.30

Team news: Damien Traille returns to inside centre for this encounter following a spell at out-half with the French national team as Biarritz look to take control of this pool.

Imanol Harinordoquy skippers the side with former England star Iain Balshaw on the wing.

Italian side Aironi have endured a difficult season thus far, but they will feature internationals such as Josh Sole, Marco Bortolami and also Fabio Ongaro in their side.

Stat: Aironi are without a win in any competition so far this season.

One to watch: One-time Lion Balshaw has been in good form in France so far this season and could make an impact on proceedings.

Verdict: Biarritz could cut loose

Pool 5

Perpignan v

Leicester Tigers

Stade Aime Giral, today, 2.30, live, Sky Sports 1

Team news: Perpignan are enduring a miserable domestic season where they find themselves 10th in the Top 14. There is no place for Pumas lock Rimas Alvarez-Kairélis or Manny Edmonds in the squad, while club captain Jean-Pierre Perez starts is on the bench. Gavin Hume and Maxime Mermoz are injured.

Toby Flood returns for Leicester and pairs up with Ben Youngs at half-back. Ireland's Geordan Murphy is in his usual spot at full-back and is flanked by Alesana Tuilagi and Scott Hamilton.

Stat: Leicester (along with Leinster) make their 100th appearance in the Heineken Cup this weekend.

One to watch: Perpignan prop Marius Tincu is uncompromising and his battle with George Chuter will be key.

Verdict: Leicester

Pool 5

Scarlets v Treviso

Parc y Scarlets, today, 3.0

Team news: Matthew Rees, Stephen Jones and Sean Lamont return for Scarlets who need a win to stay in touch with Leicester.

However, No 8 David Lyons, winger Lee Williams, Deacon Manu and Peter Edwards all miss out through injury.

And for Treviso, Tommaso Benvenuti has moved from outside centre to the wing for this encounter with Andrea Pratichetti partnering Gonzalo Garcia in midfield.

Stat: Treviso have managed an average of 19 points per game in this tournament.

One to watch: Teenager Tommaso Benvenuti scored four tries in the opening two rounds for Treviso and could make his presence felt here.

Verdict: Scarlets too strong at home

Pool 2

Saracens v

Racing Metro

Vicarage Road, today, 3.30, live, Sky Sports 1

Team news: David Strettle starts at outside centre, while Neil de Kock also comes into the starting line-up for the game.

Rhys Gill and Petrus Du Plessis join the pack after last week's win against Harlequins.

Pumas playmaker Juan Martin Hernandez starts at full-back for Racing Metro on his comeback from injury with Francois Steyn at inside centre. Sebastien Chabal captains the side from No 8 in the absence of Lionel Nallet.

Stat: Racing make a staggering 10 changes for this game from the side that beat Clermont the last time out.

One to watch: Racing young gun Jonathan Wisniewski at out-half.

Verdict: Racing to edge a rare away win

Pool 1

Northampton Saints v

Cardiff Blues

Franklin's Gardens, today, 5.45, live, Sky Sports 1

Team news: Ben Foden starts at full-back for the Saints, with Dylan Hartley skippering the side from hooker where he packs down beside Soane Tonga'uiha and Brian Mujati.

Cardiff have a lengthy injury list that includes Leigh Halfpenny, Ben Blair, Jamie Roberts, Lloyd Williams, James Down, Deiniol Jones and T Rhys Thomas, but Xavier Rush starts with Paul Tito captaining the side from the second-row.

Stat: Northampton have no injuries this week.

One to watch: Xavier Rush to show why Ulster were so keen.

Verdict: Cardiff's injury list will see Northampton take advantage

Pool 1

Castres v Edinburgh

Stade Pierre Antoine, today, 6.45

Team news: Centre Joseph Tatupu makes his first start for Castres. They also feature former All Black Chris Masoe on the flank, while French internationals Luc Ducalcon and Benjamin Kayser are in a hefty looking front-row.

Prop Allan Jacobsen, hooker Ross Ford and Ben Cairns and John Houston will start for Edinburgh, however, Ben Blair misses out on this encounter with an elbow injury.

Stat: Edinburgh beat Castres in France in 2008 in this competition.

One to watch: The former Scotland winger Simon Webster will be on the bench for Edinburgh for today's game and he will be raring to go after nine months out with injury.

Verdict: Castres to avenge the 2008 defeat

Pool 6

NG Dragons v


Cardiff City Stadium, tomorrow, 1.0

Team news: Tom Willis, Danny Lydiate and Luke Charteris miss out for the Newport-Gwent Dragons, who play this game in Cardiff due to the severe weather conditions.

Rob Sidoli partners Adam Jones in the second-row.

Wasps make just a pair of change from the side which beat Exeter last weekend.

Samoan prop Zak Taulafo and hooker Joe Ward come in for Shaun Ruwers, who is named on the bench, and Tom Lindsay.

Stat: Wasps enter this game having won four games in as many weeks.

One to watch: Adam Hughes is the Dragons top try- scorer and a exciting prospect.

Verdict: In-form Wasps are too strong

Pool 3

London Irish v


Madejski Stadium, tomorrow, 3.0, live, Sky Sports 2

Team news: Good news for the Exiles as Sailosi Tagicakibau starts his first game since October and he is joined by compatriot Seilala Mapusua. Bob Casey is restored to the second-row alongside Nick Kennedy. Ryan Lamb is at 10.

Toulon include Jonny Wilkinson, who starts despite having 'flu, England wing Paul Sackey, Springbok No 8 Joe van Niekerk and All Blacks prop Carl Hayman.

Stat: This is the first Heineken Cup meeting between the sides.

One to watch: Wilkinson can bring the best out of scrum-half Pierre Mignoni.

Verdict: Home advantage key for the Exiles despite Toulon class

Irish Independent

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