Challenge Cup Preview: Friday

Date published: January 14 2016

Three pool games take place in the Challenge Cup on Friday with Edinburgh playing host to Agen while Dragons take on Castres.

Edinburgh v Agen

Edinburgh make eleven changes to the team to face Agen at Murrayfield, from the side which beat Treviso last Friday in the PRO12, as a number of Scotland players are rested.

Retaining his place at full-back is Jack Cuthbert while Damien Hoyland moves to right wing with Will Helu, returning from injury, on the left. Mike Allen remains at outside centre where he’s partnered by Andries Strauss who moves up from the bench. In the half backs, Greig Tonks stays at stand-off while Sean Kennedy moves up from the bench to partner him at scrum-half.

The front row sees Rory Sutherland retained at loosehead, with McInally and John Andress both moving up from the bench to start at hooker and tighthead.

In the second row, starting for the first time together for Edinburgh – and the first set of twins to start a competitive match for a Scottish club in the professional era – Ben Toolis returns from injury to take the number five jersey while Alex moves to four.

It’s all change in the back row, too, as Jamie Ritchie and Magnus Bradbury move up from the bench to blindside and number eight respectively with Hamish Watson returning from injury at openside.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 Michael Allen, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Will Helu, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 Magnus Bradbury, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Alex Toolis, 3 John Andress, 2 Stuart McInally (c), 1 Rory Sutherland
16 Neil Cochrane, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Anton Bresler, 20 Mike Coman, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Chris Dean, 23 Dougie Fife

Agen: 15 Benoit Sicart, 14 François Tardieu, 13 Vincent Roux, 12 Pierre Fouyssac, 11 Filipo Nakosi, 10 François Bouvier, 9 Paul Abadie,  8 Marc Baget, 7 Denis Marchois, 6 Sione Tau, 5 Corentin Braendlin, 4 Léo Bastien, 3 Nicolas Chocou, 2 Marc Barthomeuf, 1 Quentin Bethune
Replacements: 16 Florian Dufour, 17 Viliamu Afatia, 18 , 19 Felicien Vergnon, 20 Nicolas Gal, 21 Baptiste Cadiou, 22 Clement Darbo, 23 Alban Conduche

Venue: Murrayfield
Kick-off: 19:30 GMT
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Rhys Thomas (Wales), Simon Rees (Wales)

Dragons v Castres

Newport Gwent Dragons and Welsh international winger Hallam Amos will take on Castres this upcoming Friday after returning to full fitness.

The 21-year-old has returned to full fitness after suffering a shoulder injury whist playing for Wales against England in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. 

This will be the wingers first run out for the region this year after his stint in the Wales Rugby World Cup squad, where he earned four caps for his country.

The former Wales U20s star joins the back three alongside young gun Ashton Hewitt and full-back Carl Meyer. The centre partnership sees the inclusion of Adam Hughes, who returns from illness, to line up alongside Adam Warren. Jason Tovey gets the nod as fly-half and joins the half backs alongside Sarel Pretorius.

The front row is all change with props Phil Price and Brok Harris joining young hooker Elliot Dee. The second row also sees a change as Cory Hill steps into the fold alongside this weekends skipper Rynard Landman. In the back row we see the return of flankers Lewis Evans and Nic Cudd, with number eight Taulupe Faletau returning from injury.

The replacements bench has seven changes to it as Thomas Rhys Thomas, Boris Stankovich, Shaun Knight, Matthew Screech, Ed Jackson, Angus O’Brien and Nick Scott join Charlie Davies.

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Ashton Hewitt, 13 Adam Hughes, 12 Adam Warren, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans, Rynard Landman (c), 4 Cory Hill, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Phil Price
Replacements: 16 Thomas Rhys Thomas, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Ed Jackson, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Nick Scott

Castres: 15 Geoffrey Palis, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 Thomas Combezou, 12 Romain Cabannes, 11 David Smith, 10 Francois Fontaine, 9 Julien Seron, 8 Mathieu Babillot, 7 Ibrahim Diarra, 6 Yannick Caballero, 5 Benjamin Desroche, 4 Christophe Samson, 3 Lucas Martinez, 2 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 1 Saimone Taumoepeau
Replacements: 16 Julien Beziat, 17 Karena Wihongi, 18 Eric Sione, 19 Alexandre Bias, 20 Theo Hannoyer, 21 Rudi Wulf, 22 Rémi Lamerat, 23 Benjamin Urdapilleta

Venue: Rodney Parade
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Kieran Barry (Ireland), Ken Imbusch (Ireland)
TMO: Dermot Moloney (Ireland)

Pau v Sale Sharks

All Blacks stars Colin Slade and Conrad Smith are once again rested by Pau. New signing Argentina prop Juan Pablo Orlandi is on the bench.

New England call-up Josh Beaumont takes over the captain's armband for Sale Sharks and leads an experienced side, which features Danny Cipriani, Johnny Leota and Chris Cusiter.

Steve Diamond said: "We've put ourselves in a good position, and it's down to us to qualify for the quarter-finals now. I think it will be a similar Pau side that faced us earlier in the competition. They'll be a difficult side to play against. We're looking forward to the challenge."

The teams:

Pau: 15 Charly Malie, 14 Marika Vunibaka, 13 Julien Fumat, 12 Pierre Dupouy, 11 Mathieu Acebes, 10 Brandon Fajardo, 9 Samuel Marques, 8 Brice Monzeglio, 7 Josefa Ulago Domolailai, 6 Giovanni Habel Kuffner, 5 Claude Dry, 4 Cameron Pierce, 3 Giorgi Natsarashvili, 2 Thomas Bianchin, 1 Geoffrey Moise
Replacements: 16 Mehdi Boundjema, 17 Julien Jacquot, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Sean Dougall, 20 Loic Bernad, 21 Thierry Lacrampe, 22 Watisoni Votu, 23 Romain Buros

Sale: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Tom Arscott, 13 Will Addison, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Nev Edwards, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Chris Cusiter, 8 Josh Beaumont (c), 7 Magnus Lund, 6 Cameron Neild, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Vadim Cobbles, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 James Flynn, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Jonathan Mills, 20 Mark Easter, 21 James Mitchell, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Mark Jennings

Venue: Stade du Hameau

Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Gary Conway (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Leo Colgan (Ireland), Paul Haycock (Ireland)