Challenge Cup: Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler start for Bristol Bears against Clermont while Ken Owens is back for Scarlets
There’s two Challenge Cup round-of-16 games on the schedule on Friday as Bristol Bears take on Clermont while Scarlets face off with Brive.
Bristol Bears v Clermont
Bristol Bears are bolstered by the return of England duo Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler for Friday’s Challenge Cup round-of-16 meeting with Clermont Auvergne.
The pair start either side of Harry Thacker in a dynamic front-row, while Magnus Bradbury continues in the second-row alongside Chris Vui in the absence of the injured Joe Joyce.
Sam Jeffries is back from injury to take his place on the openside flank, while the backline remains unchanged as the Bears target a quarter-final spot.
That backline once again sees Harry Randall and AJ MacGinty link up in the half-backs while James Williams and Semi Radradra are the midfield combination.
Gabriel Ibitoye, Siva Naulago and Charles Piuatu make up a lethal back three.
Among the options waiting on the bench, Academy lock Charlie Rice is set for his European debut, while Will Capon is another to return from injury.
Meanwhile, Fritz Lee will skipper Clermont on their trip to Ashton Gate as the French side experience Challenge Cup rugby for the first time this season.
Les Jaunards finished the Champions Cup pool stages in ninth spot so dropped into the second tier of European competition for this round-of-16 stage.
Lee is joined in the back-row by Lucas Dessaigne and Killian Tixeront, while Tomas Lavanini and Thibaud Lanen link up in the second-row at the Bears.
The front-row sees Etienne Fourcade at hooker with Etienne Falgoux and Cristian Ojovan at loosehead and tighthead prop respectively for Friday’s tie.
Sebastien Bezy and Anthony Belleau are the half-back pairing while New Zealand international George Moala and Irae Simome make up the midfield duo.
France’s Damian Penaud is named on the right wing and is joined in the back three by fellow wing Bautista Delguy and Australian full-back Alex Newsome.
Bristol Bears: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Siva Naulago, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 James Williams, 11 Gabriel Ibitoye, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Harry Randall (cc), 8 Fitz Harding, 7 Sam Jeffries, 6 Steven Luatua (cc), 5 Chris Vui, 4 Magnus Bradbury, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Ellis Genge
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 George Kloska, 19 Charlie Rice, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Sam Bedlow, 23 Ioan Lloyd
Clermont: 15 Alex Newsome, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Irae Simone, 12 George Moala, 11 Bautista Delguy, 10 Anthony Belleau, 9 Sébastien Bézy, 8 Fritz Lee (c), 7 Lucas Dessaigne, 6 Killian Tixeront, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Thibaud Lanen, 3 Cristian Ojovan, 2 Etienne Fourcade, 1 Etienne Falgoux
Replacements: 16 Jean-Maxence Jules-Rosette, 17 Giorgi Beria, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Edward Annandale, 20 Loic Godener, 21 Baptiste Jauneau, 22 Jules Plisson, 23 Alivereti Raka
Venue: Ashton Gate
Kick-off: 20:00 BST (19:00 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Craig Evans (Wales), Adam Jones (Wales)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Scarlets v Brive
Wales captain Ken Owens returns to the Scarlets‘ starting line-up for their Challenge Cup round-of-16 clash with Brive at Parc y Scarlets on Friday.
The British & Irish Lions hooker is back from Six Nations commitments as the West Walians resume their European quest against Top 14 opposition.
Owens is one of two personnel changes from last weekend’s inspired URC victory over the Sharks in Llanelli.
The other switch is enforced following a hamstring injury to openside flanker Dan Davis. In a reshuffle of the back-row, the experienced Aaron Shingler comes in at blindside with skipper Josh Macleod switching to the number seven jersey.
10 of the starting XV came through the Scarlets pathway, including five of the back division, which remains unchanged from the win over Sharks.
Tom Rogers, Steff Evans – the tournament’s top try-scorer – and Ryan Conbeer make up the back three; Joe Roberts and Johnny Williams continue in midfield, while Sam Costelow and Gareth Davies again link up at half-back.
Up front, Owens takes his place in the front-row alongside Kemsley Mathias and Javan Sebastian. Vaea Fifita and Sam Lousi form the lock pairing, while fellow Tongan international Sione Kalamafoni starts at number eight.
The bench sees the return of Wales’ Six Nations squad members Wyn Jones and Rhys Patchell.
Meanwhile, Brive will be led by Said Hireche from the side of the scrum, with Retief Marais and Rodrigo Bruni completing the loose trio.
In the second-row Mesu Kunavula combines with Lucas Paulos Adler whilst the front-row of Daniel Brennan, Lucas Da Silva and Francisco Coria Marchetti make up the rest of the tight five.
Stuart Olding joins scrum-half Vasil Lobzhanidze in the half-back pairing with Sam Arnold and Nico Lee in the midfield. Nic Krone starts at full-back, with Arthur Bonneval and Kevin Fabien the wings out wide.
On the pine, Motu Matu’u is joined by Nathan Fraissenon and Wesley Tapueluelu as front-row options, with Renger van Eerten and Sacha Gue as the remaining forward substitutions.
Lastly, the backline options are scrum-half Paul Abadie, Tom Raffy and Seta Tuicuvu.
Scarlets: 15 Tom Rogers, 14 Steff Evans, 13 Joe Roberts, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Ryan Conbeer; 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Josh Macleod (c), 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Javan Sebastian, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Kemsley Mathias
Replacements: 16 Shaun Evans, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Carwyn Tuipulotu, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Ioan Nicholas
Brive: 15 Nic Krone, 14 Arthur Bonneval, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Sam Arnold, 11 Kevin Fabien, 10 Stuart Olding, 9 Vasil Lobzhanidze, 8 Retief Marais, 7 Said Hireche (c), 6 Rodrigo Bruni, 5 Lucas Paulos Adler, 4 Mesu Kunavula, 3 Francisco Coria Marchetti, 2 Lucas Da Silva, 1 Daniel Brennan
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Nathan Fraissenon, 18 Wesley Tapueluelu, 19 Renger van Eerten, 20 Sacha Gue, 21 Paul Abadie, 22 Tom Raffy, 23 Seta Tuicuvu
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Kick-off: 20:00 BST (19:00 GMT)
Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe (England)
Assistant Referees: Harry Walbaum (England), Wayne Falla (England)
TMO: Steve Leyshon (England)
READ MORE: Champions Cup: EPCR boss backs South Africa to host European finals
The article Challenge Cup: Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler start for Bristol Bears against Clermont while Ken Owens is back for Scarlets appeared first on Planetrugby.com.