Friday 24 November 2017

Heineken cup: Guide to the other games

Pool 5

Benetton Treviso v Perpignan, Stadio Comunale di Monigo, today, 1.30

Team news: Treviso ring the changes after losing heavily to Ulster in the Magners League, with Brendan Williams at full-back and Benjamin de Jager and Ludovico Nitoglia on the wings. Willem de Waal fills the out-half berth alongside scrum-half Tobias Botes.

Marius Tincu starts at hooker for the French side, while Olivier Olibeau is named at lock. Gregory le Corvec switches to blind-side, with Jean-Pierre Perez coming in at open-side. Damien Chouly is named among the replacements having recovered from a hamstring strain.

Stat: Treviso's last European win came at home to Perpignan last season as they beat the then French champions 9-8.

One to watch: Treviso full-back Williams is always electric, although his defence is questionable. Makes for interesting viewing, however.

Verdict: Perpignan, but a losing bonus for the Italians.

Pool 6

Toulouse v Dragons,

Stade Ernest Wallon, today, 1.30

Team news: After last week's hammering at the hands of Michael Cheika's Stade Francais, Toulouse coach Guy Noves rings the changes, with Maxime Medard back at full-back, Clement Poitrenaud switched to inside-centre and David Skrela at No 10.

Jean Baptiste Poux and Census Johnston add ballast up front, Gregory Lamboley and Patricio Albacete are in the second-row and Jean Bouilhou, Thierry Dusautoir and Louis Picamoles make up the back-row.

Aled Brew starts for the Dragons, while Wales's rising star Dan Lydiate is fit to play and will be hoping to show his potential for the future.

Stat: The Dragons have won just once in their last four Heineken Cup campaigns and aren't likely to add to that number here.

One to watch: Lydiate is highly rated in Wales and the 23-year-old can test himself against the very best this afternoon.

Verdict: Toulouse to win pulling up.

Pool 4

Bath v Aironi, Recreation Ground, today, 2.30

Team news: Nick Abendanon moves to full-back in place of Jack Cuthbert, while Tom Biggs starts on the wing. Skipper Luke Watson is back No 8, with Ben Skirving at blind-side, while USA skipper John van der Giessen makes his Heineken Cup debut.

Gareth Krause continues at No 8 for Aironi in place of the rested Nick Williams -- formerly of Munster -- while Pablo Canavosio partners James Marshall at half-back.

Stat: Bath have scored the fewest points of all the teams who have played Aironi in Europe, with Biarritz picking up 27 when they lost -- they'll want to make up for that today.

One to watch: Van der Giessen will be keen to make an impact on a European level, and given that he'll lead Eddie O'Sullivan's USA against Ireland at the World Cup, he'll be worth watching from Declan Kidney's perspective.

Verdict: Bath should have enough quality to win comfortably.

Pool 5

Scarlets v Leicester Tigers, Parc Y Scarlets, today, 5.45, Sky Sports 1

Team news: Stephen Jones is back at out-half for the hosts as Rhys Priestland moves to full-back. David Lyons also returns from injury in the back-row, while Regan King will look to threaten from midfield.

Geordan Murphy's woes mean New Zealander Scott Hamilton is redeployed at full-back for Leicester. Louis Deacon captains the Tigers in the Kildare man's absence.

Stat: In five Heineken Cup clashes between the sides, the Englishmen have come out on top four times.

One to watch: Manu Tuilagi is the latest brother to menace the English Premiership and will take some stopping.

Verdict: Scarlets by a nose.

Pool 6

Glasgow v London Wasps, Firhill Stadium, tomorrow, 1.0, Sky Sports 2

Team news: Johnnie Beattie is ineligible for Glasgow following an administrative error, so Richie Vernon returns to the back-row, while Colin Shaw and Hefin O'Hare are recalled on the wings. In the centre, Federico Aramburu deputises for the injured Max Evans.

Wasps recall Simon Shaw and Joe Worsley, while David Lemi, Dave Walder and Joe Simpson are promoted from the bench following last weekend's narrow loss to Harlequins.

Stat: Wasps have won all three European meetings between these sides.

One to watch: Evergreen second-row Shaw (37) gets to test himself against rising star Richie Gray.

Verdict: Wasps to take it.

Pool 3

London Irish v Ospreys, Madejski Stadium, tomorrow, 3.0

Team news: George Stowers moves from No 8 to blind-side flanker for Irish, with Chris Hala'ufia coming in at the back of the scrum. Darren Allinson replaces Paul Hodgson at scrum-half, while Delon Armitage returns at full-back.

The Welshmen recall their big guns after a rest against Leinster, with Alun-Wyn Jones, Adam Jones, Mike Phillips, James Hook and Tommy Bowe among the starters.

Stat: London Irish have lost their last six league games and three Heineken Cup clashes.

One to watch: Bowe is central to Ireland's Six Nations ambitions and his form will be worth keeping an eye on.

Verdict: Ospreys to improve their poor away record.

Irish Independent

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