Preview: Challenge Cup, Friday

Date published: December 17 2015

Two games take place in Pool 5 of the Challenge Cup on Friday as Edinburgh host London Irish while Agen travel to face fellow countrymen Grenoble.

Edinburgh v London Irish

With a number of players being rested, others are being given an opportunity for Edinburgh against London Irish in the Challenge Cup.

Teenage back-row Jamie Ritchie and outside centre Michael Allen will make their first starts for the club as a number of players are rested, some move up from the bench and others return from injury.

In the backs, Dougie Fife moves from the wing to full-back, Tom Brown returns from injury to take the 14 jersey and Andries Strauss comes in at inside centre to partner Allen.

Otulea Katoa, back from injury, will win his second cap for the club, on the left wing, while Greig Tonks also returns at fly-half and scrum-half Nathan Fowles moves up from the bench to form the half-back pairing.

It’s all change in the front-row with Rory Sutherland, Neil Cochrane and John Andress moving up to start at loosehead, hooker and tighthead respectively; Cochrane will also lead the team, for the first time, this week.

The lock combination of Anton Bresler and Alex Toolis is retained while Ritchie is on the blindside, Hamish Watson moves up to start at openside and last Friday’s try scorer, Cornell Du Preez, remains at number eight.

Meanwhile, Leo Halavatau will make his 100th appearance for London Irish if he comes off the bench on Friday.

Nic Rouse makes his first appearance of the season after recovering from injury as Tom Coventry names five changes to the starting line-up.

The front-row remains the same with Tom Court, Ben Franks and Gerard Ellis all included. There is one change in the second-row as Rouse comes in for Jebb Sinclair to partner Eoin Sheriff. The only other change of personnel in the forwards comes in the back-row where Blair Cowan replaces Luke Narraway, joining Conor Gilsenan and Ofisa Treviranus.

Shane Geraghty starts again at fly-half with Darren Allinson replacing Brendan McKibbin at scrum-half. Tom Fowlie comes into the centre to partner Johnny Williams in the midfield. Andrew Fenby is rewarded for his hat-trick last week with another start on the wing, with Alex Lewington also keeping his place on the other side. Sean Maitland is replaced by the club’s record try scorer, Topsy Ojo at full-back.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Dougie Fife, 14 Tom Brown, 13 Michael Allen, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Otulea Katoa, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Nathan Fowles, 8 Cornell Du Preez, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Alex Toolis, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 John Andress, 2 Neil Cochrane (c), 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Grant Shiells, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Magnus Bradbury, 20 Chris Dean, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Blair Kinghorn, 23 Damien Hoyland.

London Irish: 15 Topsy Ojo, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Tom Fowlie, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Andrew Fenby, 10 Shane Geraghty (c), 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Conor Gilsenan, 6 Blair Cowan, 5 Nic Rouse, 4 Eoin Sheriff, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Gerard Ellis, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 Tom Smallbone, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 David Sisi, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Chris Noakes, 23 Fergus Mulchrone.

Date: Friday, December 18
Venue: Murrayfield
Kick-off: 19:30 GMT
Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Kieran Barry (Ireland), Barrie O’Connell (Ireland)

Grenoble v Agen

Grenoble could go top of Pool 5 if they overcome Agen at Stade des Alpes and Edinburgh beat London Irish.

A 40-20 victory at Agen in the reverse fixture left Grenoble two points off London Irish at the summit, with Edinburgh a point behind them in third place.

Lilian Saseras and Jonathan Wisniewski form a new-look half-back combination for the match while Nigel Hunt and Fabrice Estebanez replace Jackson Willison and Chris Farrell in midfield for the home game.

Up front Grenoble have named Fabien Barcella and Dayna Edwards as their props.

Meanwhile Agen are sitting bottom of the pool with no points to show from their three games, meaning they are likely to have their focus elsewhere on the Top 14.

The teams:

Grenoble: 15 Clément Gelin, 14 Tino Nemani, 13 Fabrice Estebanez, 12 Nigel Hunt, 11 Armand Batlle, 10 Jonathan Wisniewski, 9 Lilian Saseras, 8 Steven Setephano, 7 Henry Vanderglas, 6 Fabien Alexandre, 5 Mathias Marie, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Dayna Edwards, 2 Laurent Bouchet, 1 Fabien Barcella.
Replacements: 16 Loick Jammes, 17 Denis Coulson, 18 Walter Desmaison, 19 Peter Kimlin, 20 Mahamadou Diaby, 21 Christophe Loustalot, 22 Gilles Bosch, 23 Robinson Caire.

Agen: 15 Benoit Sicart, 14 Filipo Nakosi, 13 Vincent Roux, 12 Pierre Fouyssac, 11 François Tardieu, 10 François Bouvier, 9 Paul Abadie, 8 Marc Baget, 7 Léo Bastien, 6 Denis Marchois, 5 Corentin Braendlin, 4 Jean-Baptiste Roidot, 3 Arthur Joly, 2 Marc Barthomeuf, 1 Quentin Bethune.
Replacements: 16 Jason Marshall, 17 Viliamu Afatia, 18 Giorgi Margvelani, 19 Nicolas Gal, 20 Clement Darbo, 21 Thibaud Mazzoleni, 22 Julien Heriteau, 23 Marius Deguilhem.

Date: Friday, December 18
Venue: Stade des Alpes
Kick-off: 19:30 local (18:30 GMT)
Referee: Tom Foley (England)
Assistant Referees: Craig Maxwell-Keys (England), Nigel Carrick (England)