Challenge Cup teams: Saturday

Date published: November 13 2015

The Challenge Cup gathers pace this weekend with seven fixtures taking place across Europe on Saturday and Sunday.

RC Enisei v Connacht 

Pat Lam has named a few changes for his Connacht side. 21-year-old Academy centre Peter Robb makes his Connacht debut tomorrow afternoon, starting in a midfield partnership with Bundee Aki.

USA international fly-half AJ MacGinty starts for the first time with Ian Porter making up the half back pairing.

Up front, John Muldoon captains the side from a backrow featuring George Naoupu and Academy flanker James Connolly who makes his season debut, having played in three European games last season.

From the replacements bench, Academy forward and Galway-born Sean O'Brien is in line to earn his first Connacht cap while it will be a season debut for Danny Qualter and Caolin Blade should they be called upon.

Commenting on the team selection and the upcoming game, Pat Lam said:

"We said from the start that this was going to be a massive mental challenge for everybody involved but I must say that the boys have handled the challenges thrown at them really well so far. We have adjusted to the environment as best we can in three days and have done all the necessary preparation ahead of tomorrow's game."


RC Enisei: 15 Iurii Kushnarev, 14 Mikhail Babaev, 13 David Kacharava, 12 Dmitrii Gerasimov, 11 Denis Simplikevich, 10 Ramil Gaisin, 9 Jurijs Baranovs (c), 8 Dmitrii Krotov, 7 Andrey Temnov, 6 Vitalii Orlov, 5 Viacheslav Krasylnyk, 4 Uldis Saulite, 3 Innokentiy Zykov, 2 Stanislav Selskii, 1 Aleksandr Bezverkhov
Replacements: 16 Nazir Gasanov, 17 Andrei Polivalov, 18 Evgenii Pronenko, 19 Evgeny Elgin, 20 Sergey Kuzmenko, 21 Alexey Shcherban, 22 Dmitriy Simonov, 23 Anton Rudoi

Connacht: 15 Darragh Leader, 14 Rory Parata, 13 Bundee Aki, 12 Peter Robb, 11 Niyi Adeolokun, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Ian Porter, 8 George Naoupu, 7 James Connolly, 6 John Muldoon (c), 5 Aly Muldowney, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Denis Buckley
Relacements: 16 David Heffernan, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 Conan O'Donnell, 19 Danny Qualter, 20 Sean O'Brien, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Jack Carty, 23 Craig Ronaldson

Date: Saturday, November 14
Venue: Krasnoyarsk
Kick-off: 08:00 GMT
Referee: Sébastien Minery (France)
Assistant Referees: Sergey Murashkin (Russia), Arnaud Blondel (France)

Calvisano v Cardiff Blues

Prop Dillon Lewis makes his full debut while scrum-half Lloyd Williams becomes a centurion for the Cardiff Blues.

Wales Under-20 ace Lewis starts in a front row that also contains Gethin Jenkins and Kristian Dacey for the fixture at the Peroni Stadium.

Williams hits his memorable milestone by playing his 100th game in the number nine jersey and combines with Rhys Patchell at half back.

Head coach Danny Wilson has named a powerful side that contains just two changes to the team that narrowly lost out to reigning PRO12 league champions Glasgow Warriors last weekend.

Rising star Lewis comes in at tighthead prop while the other change is a recall for former All Black lock Jarrad Hoeata into the second row to partner James Down.

USA international Blaine Scully also makes a welcome return among the replacements. Cam Dolan, Sam Hobbs and Josh Navidi both miss the European fixture due to injury.

Wilson said: "We're looking forward to the European competition. It is another series of games to build on what we are improving on and the lessons we have learnt from the league.

"Calvisano away is a challenge similar to Zebre away and we have got to face it better than we did last time. After that we have Harlequins at home with a short turnaround; we have some huge games coming up."


Calvisano: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Ben De Jager, 13 Alberto Chiesa, 12 Tommy Castello (c), 11, Marco Susio, 10 Filippo Buscema, 9 Riccardo Raffaele, 8 Jim Tuivaiti, 7 Maxime Mbanda, 6 Matteo Archetti, 5 Davide Zanetti, 4 Agustin Cavalieri, 3 Salvatore Costanzo, 2 Lorenzo Giovanchelli, 1 Sami Panico
Replacements: 16 Luhandre Luus, 17 Gabriele Morelli, 18 Rudy Biancotti, 19 Michele Andreotti, 20 Luca Beccaris, 21 Renato Giammarioli, 22 Giacomo De Santis, 23 Daniele Di Giulio

Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Tom James, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Josh Turnbull, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Ellis Jenkins, 5 James Down, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Gethin Jenkins (c)
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Tom Davies, 18 Craig Mitchell, 19 Lou Reed, 20 Manoa Vosawai, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Blaine Scully

Date: Saturday, November 14 
Venue: Peroni Stadium
Kick-off: 14:00 GMT
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (England)
Assistant referees: Andrew Small (England), Nigel Carrick (England)

London Irish v Agen

Joe Trayfoot and Johnny Williams will make their London Irish debuts this weekend when the Club welcomes Agen to the Madejski Stadium on Saturday for their Challenge Cup clash.

Tom Coventry has made nine changes to the side that faced Bath last week. Tom Court, Gerard Ellis and Halani Aulika pack down in the front row with Eoin Sheriff partnering captain Matt Symons in the second row.

Joe Trayfoot makes his debut from open side flanker, with Rob McCusker at blindside and Tom Guest at number eight.

Darren Allinson and Chris Noakes start at scrum-half and fly-half respectively, with Johnny Williams joined by Aseli Tikoirotuma in the centre.

The back three consists of Topsy Ojo and Alex Lewington on the wings with Sean Maitland named at full-back.

Tom Coventry commented on his selection saying: "We have made some changes this week and the players who have been selected are fully deserving of this opportunity. 

"Johnny and Joe have both worked very hard throughout the season so far and have earned their selection. We have three of our Academy players selected in the squad, which is a huge testimony to the work of our Academy coaches and the players themselves. Agen are a top side with plenty of threats around the park so we will have to be at our best to get the result."

London Irish: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Topsy Ojo, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Joe Trayfoot, 6 Rob McCusker, 5 Matt Symons (c), 4 Eoin Sheriff, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Gerard Ellis, 1 Tom Court
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Tom Smallbone, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 David Sisi, 20 Luke Narraway, 21 Connor Murphy, 22 Theo Brophy Clews, 23 Dom Waldouck

Agen: 15 François Tardieu, 14 Filipo Nakosi, 13 Julien Heriteau, 12 Vincent Roux, 11 Jason Deschamps, 10 Bautista Guemes, 9 Paul Abadie (c), 8 Marc Baget, 7 Nicolas Gal, 6 Antoine Miquel, 5 Denis Marchois, 4 Jean-Baptiste Roidot, 3 Nicolas Chocou, 2 Marc Barthomeuf, 1 Quentin Bethune 
Replacements: 16 Charly Morlay, 17 Viliamu Afatia, 18 Dave Ryan, 19 Léo Bastien, 20 Felicien Vergnon, 21 Clement Darbo, 22 François Bouvier, 23 Benoit Sicart



Date: Saturday, November 14
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Gary Conway (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Eddie Hogan-O'Connell (Ireland), Richard Kerr (Ireland)

Worcester v La Rochelle

Worcester have made 14 changes to the starting line-up ahead of this Saturday's European Challenge Cup opener against La Rochelle at Sixways.

Carl Kirwan is set for his Warriors debut in the back row alongside Sam Betty, who will make his 99th appearance for the Club, while Matt Cox is at number eight – the only survivor from the starting 15 that beat Newcastle Falcons last weekend. 

An all-change back-three sees Ben Howard at full-back, alongside Tom Biggs and fellow winger Dean Hammond, who is recalled from his loan spell at Nottingham Rugby. 

In the centre, Ravai Fatiaki and Max Stelling who have occupied the Worcester Cavaliers centre partnership this season, get their first Warriors starts of the campaign. 

Scrum-half Charlie Mulchrone will captain Warriors as part of a half-back combination with Ryan Lamb. 

In the pack, Ryan Bower, Ben Sowrey and Joe Rees start in the front row, while Darren O'Shea and Fiji international Tevita Cavubati occupy the second row. 

In the replacements JB Bruzulier returns from a loan spell with European giants Clermont while Academy prop Gareth Milasinovich could make his first Warriors appearance from the bench. Niall Annett is named as back row replacement. 

Warriors Head Coach Carl Hogg said: "We said we wanted some consistency in the first block of four Premiership games but now it's a chance for some of the players who worked equally hard to get their chance. 

"The key thing is that we perform as a team and it's key that those who haven't played channel their intent in the right way."

The teams:

Worcester: 15 Ben Howard, 14 Tom Biggs, 13 Max Stelling, 12 Ravai Fatiaki, 11 Dean Hammond, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Charlie Mulchrone (c), 8 Matt Cox, 7 Carl Kirwan, 6 Sam Betty, 5 Darren O'Shea, 4 Tevita Cavubati, 3 Joe Rees, 2 Ben Sowrey, 1 Ryan Bower
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Gareth Milasinovich, 18 Mike Daniels, 19 Dan Sanderson, 20 Niall Annett, 21 JB Bruzulier, 22 Ryan Mills, 23 Perry Humphreys

La Rochelle: 15 Benjamin Lapeyre, 14 Alexander Northam, 13 Elliot Roudil, 12 Jean-Pascal Barraque, 11 Martin Carre, 10 Charles Bouldoire, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Zeno Kieft (c), 7 Benoit Guyot, 6 Romana Graham, 5 Leo Cedaro, 4 Damien Lagrange, 3 Vincent Pelo, 2 Maxime Gau, 1 Thomas Synaeghel 
Replacements: 16 Benjamin Geledan, 17 Mike Corbel, 18 Gagi Bazadze, 19 Jone Qovu, 20 Romain Sazy, 21 Jules Lebail, 22 Fabien Fortassin, 23 Malietoa Hingano

Date: Saturday, November 14
Venue: Sixways
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Nigel Correll (Ireland), Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

Gloucester v Zebre

Jacob Rowan will skipper Gloucester as the team looks to earn its stripes against Zebre at Kingsholm on Saturday afternoon.

All Black Jeremy Thrush will make his debut and centre Henry Trinder is named amongst the replacements.

There are multiple changes to the side that started at Wasps last weekend with the squad set to be used to its fullest capacity over the new few days.

Rowan is no stranger to the captain's armband, having skippered Yorkshire Carnegie with distinction for a number of seasons as well as England U20s.

The arrival of All Black Thrush is a welcome boost to a second row department that has been short of numbers in recent weeks due to injury and suspension.

And the return of Trinder to the matchday squad for the first time since February is terrific news. The centre has battled back from a succession of injuries and everyone will wish him well should he take the field.

It's the second season in succession that Gloucester and Zebre face off in the group stages of the European Rugby Challenge Cup and Director of Rugby David Humphreys knows that the Italian side will provide stubborn opposition.

"The fact that they, over the course of the past month or so, have beaten Cardiff and Edinburgh shows that they have improved. They have recruited well and brought in some experienced international players.

"As is always the case, it will be very competitive early on. We'll have to keep our composure and be sensible with our decision making."

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Stevie McColl, 13 Bill Meakes, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Lewis Ludlow, 7 Jacob Rowan (c), 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Elliot Stooke, 3 Paul Doran-Jones, 2 Tom Lindsay, 1 Yann Thomas 
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Nicky Thomas, 19 Tom Hicks, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Henry Trinder, 23 Ollie Thorley

Zebre: 15 Guglielmo Palazzani, 14 Dion Berryman, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Leonardo Sarto, 10 Edoardo Padovani, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Filippo Ferrarini, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Jacopo Sarto, 5 Marco Bortolami (c), 4 Valerio Bernabo, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Tommaso D'Apice, 1 Andrea Lovotti 
Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Andrea de Marchi, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 George Biagi, 20 Emiliano Caffini, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Giiulio Toniolatti, 23 Carlo Canna

Date: Saturday, November 14
Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Stuart Gaffikin (Ireland), John Carvill (Ireland)

Pau vs Castres

The teams:

Pau: 15 Charly Malie, 14 Sereli Bobo, 13 Julien Fumat (c), 12 Jale Vatubua, 11 Elijah Niko, 10 Damien Traille, 9 Thibault Daubagna, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Josefa Ulago Domolailai, 6 Loic Bernad, 5 Daniel Ramsay, 4 Claude Dry, 3 Giorgi Natsarashvili, 2 Quentin Lespiaucq Brettes, 1 Chris King
Replacements: 16 Thomas Bianchin, 17 Jérémy Hurou, 18 Sylvain Charlet, 19 Brice Monzeglio, 20 Cameron Pierce, 21 Samuel Marques, 22 Watisoni Votu, 23 Marika Vunibaka

Castres: 15 Julien Dumora, 14 Romain Martial, 13 Florian Vialelle, 12 Romain Cabannes (c), 11 Remi Grosso, 10 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Mathieu Babillot, 6 Piula Faasalele, 5 Victor Moreaux, 4 Christophe Samson, 3 Lucas Martinez, 2 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 1 Saimone Taumoepeau
Replacements: 16 Mathieu Bonello, 17 Eric Sione, 18 Mihai Lazar, 19 Anthony Jelonch, 20 Theo Hannoyer, 21 Thomas Combezou, 22 Louis Decrop, 23 Julien Seron


Date: Saturday, November 14
Venue: Stade Municipa-du-Hameau
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Greg Garner (England)
Assistant referees: Tom Foley (England), Ross Campbell (England)


Dragons v Sale

Flanker Lewis Evans is the only personnel change made to last weekend's Dragons starting XV, with Ed Jackson moving across to cover the number eight position. Rugby World Cup star Taulupe Faletau is subject to a late fitness test after sustaining an minor injury against Ulster.

Full-back Carl Meyer is joined once again in the back three by wingers Ashton Hewitt and Nick Scott. The centre pairing of Adam Hughes and Adam Warren also get the nod. Dorian Jones retains his number 10 jersey with Sarel Pretorius joining him in the half-backs. 

The front row includes hooker Elliot Dee who is joined by props Boris Stankovich and Shaun Knight. The second row includes Cory Hill and skipper Rynard Landman, with a back row of Lewis Evans, Ollie Griffiths and Ed Jackson. 

Looking back at his first start last weekend, flanker Ollie Griffiths commented: "It would have been a lot better if we had come away with a win but it was nice to get out there and get a full 80 under my belt.

"I made a couple of mistakes out there that I will be looking to put right but I was relatively happy with my performance.

"Fair play, Cuddy (Nic Cudd) has been playing really well and there's good competition with him and James Benjamin.

"It was nice to get a chance to get out there against Ulster and I’m excited for another chance against Sale." 

Meanwhile, Jonathan Mills will lead the Sharks for the first time as captain. Director of Rugby Steve Diamond has taken the opportunity to give several players a rest and also give an opportunity to players who have not had a lot of game time in the opening four games.

Speaking ahead of the game, Steve Diamond said: "The Dragons are a good side, forward orientated and well coached by Lyn Jones and Kingsley Jones. Rodney Parade is a difficult ground to go to, so we'll travel on Saturday and prepare as best we can. You've got to keep that momentum going."

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Ashton Hewitt, 13 Adam Hughes, 12 Adam Warren, 11 Nick Scott, 10 Dorian Jones, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Ed Jackson, 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Lewis Evans, 5 Rynard Landman (c), 4 Cory Hill, 3 Shaun Knight, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Boris Stankovich 
Replacements: 16 Rhys Buckley, 17 Phil Price, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Taulupe Faletau, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Ross Wardle

Sale: 15 Tim Jeffers, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Mark Jennings, 12 Sam Bedlow, 11 Charlie Ingall, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 James Mitchell, 8 Viliami Fihaki, 7 Andrew Hughes, 6 Magnus Lund, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Jonathan Mills (c), 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 James Flynn
Replacements: 16 Cameron Neild, 17 Jake Pope, 18 Ross Harrison, 19 George Nott, 20 Josh Beaumont, 21 Joe Ford, 22 John O'Donnell, 23 Nev Edwards



Venue: Rodney Parade
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France)
Assistant Referees: Cédric Marchat (France), Jonathan Gasnier (France)
TMO: Vincent Azoulay (France)