Challenge Cup teams: Friday

Date published: October 23 2014

Five pool games are scheduled for this Friday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup, with Grenoble versus London Irish standing out.

Five games are scheduled for Friday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup, with Grenoble v London Irish set to be a tasty match at Stade Lesdiguieres.

Dragons vs Newcastle Falcons

Newcastle Falcons have made seven changes from the team that dispatched Bucharest Wolves in last weekend’s European Rugby Challenge Cup as a number of players drop out with illness.

Simon Hammersley, returns to the fullback position he has impressed in so far this season, with Lee Smith moving to the Left Wing to accommodate. Alex Tait replaces Noah Cato on the right wing while last week’s impressive centre combination of Chris Harris and Tom Penny remains in situ.

In the half backs, Rory Clegg remains at fly-Half while Ruki Tipuna replaces the ill Warren Fury at scrum half,

In the forwards, Rob Vickers comes into the starting line up at Loosehead Prop alongside Rob Hawkins and Kieran Brookes in the front row while there is an entirely new combination in the second row in the shape of Scott MacLeod and Sean Robinson.

In the back row Andy Saull and Mark Wilson remain at Openside Flanker and Number 8 while captain Will Welch returns in place of Dan Temm on the Blindside Flank.

On the bench Eric Fry, Alex Rogers and Oliver Tomaszczyk provide the front row cover while Dan Temm, Andy Davies, Craig Willis and Tom Catterick retain places in the squad following last week’s win.

For Dragons, versatile second row James Thomas gets the nod from Lyn Jones to make his first European start.

The 24-year old is amongst three changes made from the team that won a bonus point against Stade Francais last weekend.

The back three, skipper Lee Byrne, Matthew Pewtner and Hallam Amos, all retain their places from last weekend after impressing the coaches. Similarly the centre pairing of Tom Prydie and Ashley Smith also keep their places. Young gun Angus O’Brien gets the nod as fly-half as does Richie Rees at scrum-half.

The front row takes on a slightly different shape as it includes props Boris Stankovich and Dan Way, alongside hooker Elliot Dee. The second row sees the inclusion of James Thomas who replaces Andrew Coombs. Thomas plays alongside Rynard Landman in the second row with Lewis Evans, Nic Cudd and Taulupe Faletau all keeping their spots in the back row.

The bench has five changes which include T. Rhys Thomas, Phil Price, Lloyd Fairbrother, Andrew Coombs and Dorian Jones who join Andy Powell, Jonathan Evans and Aled Brew.

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Lee Byrne (c); 14 Matthew Pewtner, 13 Tom Prydie, 12 Ashley Smith, 11 Hallam Amos; 10 Angus O’Brien, 9 Richie Rees; 1 Boris Stankovich, 2 Elliot Dee, 3 Dan Way, 4 James Thomas, 5 Rynard Landman, 6 Lewis Evans, 7 Nic Cudd, 8 Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: 16 T Rhys Thomas, 17 Phil Price, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Andrew Coombs, 20 Andy Powell, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Dorian Jones, 23 Aled Brew

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Tom Penny, 12 Chris Harris, 11 Lee Smith, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Ruki Tipuna, 8 Mark Wilson 7 Andy Saull, 6 Will Welch, (c) 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Scott Macleod, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16Alex Rogers, 17 Eric Fry, 18 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 19 Will Witty, 20 Dan Temm, 21 Andy Davies, 22 Craig Willis, 23 Tom Catterick

Kick-off: 19:30 BST
Venue: Rodney Parade
Referee: Alex Ruiz (France)
Assistant referees: Jonathan Gasnier (France), Arnaud Blondel (France)
Timekeeper: Tony Rowlands (Wales)
Assessor: Jack Young (Ireland)

Grenoble vs London Irish

Brian Smith has returned to his tried and tested formation ahead of Friday’s European Challenge Cup fixture against Grenoble.

Following a 70-14 victory over Rovigo, Smith has recalled many of the players who were rested for the game following a tough opening block of Aviva Premiership fixtures.

Tom Court, David Paice and Halani Aulika make up the front-row, with Kieran Low, who was named in the Scotland squad this week, in the second-row alongside Jebb Sinclair.

The back-row features Luke Narraway on the blindside flanker alongside openside Blair Cowan, who was also named in the Scottish squad earlier in the week, and number eight Ofisa Treviranus, who came through the Rovigo game unscathed after his return from injury.