Blow for Bristol as Nathan Hughes misses final

Date published: October 15 2020

Bristol Bears have made six changes to their side as they prepare to play in their first ever European final, with gargantuan number eight Nathan Hughes among those to miss out.

Hughes is not fit enough to play and he joins key full-back Charles Piutau on the sidelines, who has been absent for the last few weeks with an Achilles problem.

Max Malins has deputised superbly for Piutau and the Saracens loanee will continue in that position against Toulon, with another Sarries player, Ben Earl, moving to number eight from openside flanker.

Dave Attwood and Kyle Sinckler return

Elsewhere in the pack, Dave Attwood lines up against his former side, while Dan Thomas, Yann Thomas and Kyle Sinckler are also included.

Behind the scrum, Alapati Leiua is preferred to Piers Oโ€™Conor on the left wing, while Harry Randall gets the nod ahead at scrum-half with Andy Uren injured.

John Afoa is listed among the replacements and could feature in his fifth European final if called upon.

Bears go head-to-head with European giants RC Toulon at Stade Maurice-David looking to sign off an outstanding 2019/20 campaign with first major silverware since 1983.

Bristol Bears are this seasonโ€™s leading try scorers (38) and points scorers (302) from their eight matches to date.

 

Meanwhile, Toulon have made several changes to the team that defeated Montpellier in the Top 14 last weekend.

Jean-Baptiste Gros and Beka Gigashvili return at prop while Romain Taofifenua forms a potent lock pairing with South African powerhouse Eben Etzebeth.

Flankers Charles Ollivon and Raphael Lakafia are in the back-row, alongside Italian great Sergio Parisse, with Swan Rebbadj and Julien Ory providing cover on the bench.

There are fewer changes in the backline but Bryce Heem, who starred in the semi-final victory over Leicester Tigers, is on the wing ahead of Simon Moretti.

The teams:

Toulon:ย 15 Gervais Cordin, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Isaia Toeava, 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Gabin Villiรจre, 10 Louis Carbonel, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Sergio Parisse, 7 Raphael Lakafia, 6 Charles Ollivon, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Beka Gigashvili, 2 Anthony Etrillard (c), 1 Jean-Baptiste Gros
Replacements: 16 Bastien Soury, 17 Florian Fresia, 18 Emerick Setiano, 19 Brian Alainu’uese, 20 Swan Rebbadj, 21 Julien Ory, 22 Tane Takulua, 23 Masivesi Dakuwaqa

Bristol:ย 15 Max Malins, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 Siale Piutau (c), 11 Alapati Leiua, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Ben Earl, 7 Dan Thomas, 6 Chris Vui, 5 Joe Joyce, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Yann Thomas
Replacements: 16 George Kloska, 17 Jake Woolmore, 18 John Afoa, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Tom Kessell, 22 Piers Oโ€™Conor, 23 Niyi Adeolokun

Date:ย Friday, October 16
Venue: Stade Maurice-David, Aix-en-Provence
Kick-off: 21:00 local (20:00 BST, 19:00 GMT)
Referee: Andrew Brace
Assistant referees: Frank Murphy, George Clancy
TMO: Brian McNeice