Preview: Challenge Cup, Friday

Date published: October 12 2017

Four matches are scheduled in the Challenge Cup on Friday, with Sale Sharks taking on Toulouse at AJ Bell Stadium the pick of the bunch.

Sale Sharks v Toulouse

Sale Sharks boss Steve Diamond has made six changes to his starting line-up for Friday's clash with Toulouse at the AJ Bell Stadium.

A summer ankle operation has meant that Australian fly-half James O'Connor, who joined Sale from Toulon in the summer, has yet to make his full debut for the club.

However, after making two appearances from the replacements' bench, O'Connor will start for the first time at fly-half for the visit of Toulouse where he will form a dynamic looking half-back partnership with South African scrum-half De Klerk.

O'Connor has replaced AJ MacGinty at fly-half while Josh Charnley takes over from Byron McGuigan on the left wing in the only other change to the back-line.

In the forwards, captain Jono Ross shifts to number eight from the blindside flank and he replaces Josh Strauss at the base of the scrum while Cameron Neild will wear the number six jersey.

Andrei Ostrikov comes in for the injured Josh Beaumont in the second row while Halani Aulika and Rob Webber come into the run-on side at tighthead prop and hooker and they take over from Alex Tarus and Marc Jones respectively.

Meanwhile, Toulouse have rung the changes to their starting line-up after beating Clermont in the Top 14 at the weekend. Maxime Médard starts at full-back and lines up alongside Wandile Mjekevu, who starts in the number 14 jersey, and Yoann Huget shifts from right to left wing where he takes over from Cheslin Kolbe.

There's a brand new midfield combinatio with Jarrod Poi and Sofiane Guitoune coming in for Florian Fritz and Gael Fickou while Jean-Marc Doussain and Sébastien Bézy replace Zack Holmes and Antoine Dupont as the halfback pairing.

In the forwards, Francois Cros packs down at number eight while Rynhardt Elstadt and Kunatani Kunabuli are the two flankers. Piula Faasalele and Florian Verhaeghe start in the second row while Julien Marchand comes in at hooker while Max van Dyk and Daniel Mienie are the starting props.

The teams:

Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Josh Charnley, 10 James O'Connor, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jono Ross (c), 7 Ben Curry, 6 Cameron Neild, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison 
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 James Flynn, 18 WillGriff John, 19 George Nott, 20 Lawrence Pearce, 21 David Seymour, 22 Will Cliff, 23 Aaron Reed

Toulouse: 15 Maxime Médard, 14 Wandile Mjekevu, 13 Jarrod Poi, 12 Sofiane Guitoune, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Jean-Marc Doussain, 9 Sébastien Bézy, 8 Francois Cros, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Kunatani Kunabuli, 5 Piula Faasalele, 4 Florian Verhaeghe, 3 Maks Van Dyk, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Daniel Mienie 
Replacements: 16 David Roumieu, 17 Rodrigue Neti, 18 Clément Castets, 19 Gillian Galan, 20 Carl Axtens, 21 Selevasio Tolofua, 22 Romain Ntamack, 23 Lucas Tauzin

Date: Friday, October 13
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Kick-off: 21:00 local (20:00 GMT)
Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Kieran Barry (Ireland), John Carvill (Ireland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

Cardiff Blues v Lyon

Cardiff Blues head coach Danny Wilson has made ten changes for his starting line-up for their opener at Cardiff Arms Park.

Wilson's men reached the quarter-finals of the competition last season, and welcome the current Top 14 leaders to the Welsh capital for the first round of games, before a trip to the south of France to take on Toulouse next week.

Matthew Morgan has been rewarded for his brace of tries during last week's derby victory over Dragons and takes his place at full-back, while Blaine Scully makes his first Arms Park appearance of the season on the left wing.

Garyn Smith replaces Willis Halaholo in midfield, and partners Rey Lee-Lo, while Tomos Williams gets his second start of the campaign, partnering Jarrod Evans at half back.

There is complete change in the front row with Corey Domachowski, Matthew Rees and Dillon Lewis named as the starting three. 

George Earle comes into the line-up to replace Damian Welch in the boiler room, with Macauley Cook and Josh Turnbull replacing Josh Navidi and Nick Williams in the back row.

On the bench, Anton Peikrishvili and Lewis Jones are included in the matchday squad for the first time this season, while Aled Summerhill returns for the first time since the Guinness PRO14 opener against Edinburgh.

Meanwhile, Lyon boss Pierre Mignoni has made 13 changes to his run-on side after their win at Agen on the weekend. In the back-line, Delon Armitage returns at full-back in place of Jean-Marcellin Buttin while Timilai Rokoduru and Jone Tuva are the starting wings.

Pierre-Louis Barassi and Adrien Seguret line up in midfield in place of Rudi Wulf and Thibaut Regard respectively, while Piero Dominguez comes in for Frederic Michalak at fly-half.

Up front, Virgile Bruni starts at number eight while Theophile Cotte and Tanginoa Halaifonua are the two flankers and South African duo Francois van der Merwe and Etienne Oosthuizen start in the second row.

The front row comprises Richard Choirat and Tornike Mataradze as the two props with Deon Fourie starting at hooker.

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Garyn Smith, 11 Blaine Scully, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Josh Turnbull, 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Macauley Cook, 5 Seb Davies, 4 George Earle, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Corey Domachowski 
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Anton Peikrishvili, 19 James Down, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Aled Summerhill

Lyon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Timilai Rokoduru, 13 Pierre-Louis Barassi, 12 Adrien Seguret, 11 Jone Tuva, 10 Piero Dominguez, 9 Baptiste Couilloud, 8 Virgile Bruni, 7 Theophile Cotte, 6 Tanginoa Halaifonua, 5 Francois van der Merwe, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Richard Choirat, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Tornike Mataradze 
Replacements: 16 Virgile Lacombe, 17 Hamza Kaabèche, 18 Guram Papidze, 19 Josh Bekhuis, 20 Felix Lambey, 21 Theo Belan, 22 Jean-Marcellin Buttin, 23 Jonathan Pelissie

Date: Friday, October 13
Venue: Cardiff Arms Park
Kick-off: 20:00 local (19:00 GMT)
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Leo Colgan (Ireland), Ken Imbusch (Ireland)

Agen v Zebre

Agen have made several changes to their starting line-up after their loss to Lyon in the Top 14 at the weekend. 

Outside centre Johann Sadie is the only player in the Top 14 side's back-line who retains his spot after Agen were defeated by Lyon.

Mathieu Lamoulie and Lucas Rubio are the halfback pairing while Sadie is joined in midfield by Pierre Fouyssac. The other changes to the backs sees Clément Laporte starting at full-back and he is joined in the back three by Lucas Tolot and Nicolas Metge.

In the forwards, Antoine Miquel starts at number eight while Marco Kotz and Yoan Tanga are the two flankers. Denis Marchois starts in the second row alongside Corentin Braendlin while Vakhtangi Akhobadze and Kamaliele Tufele are the two props and Paula Ngauamo starts at hooker.

Zebre, meanwhile, are also fielding a much-changed side after their narrow loss to Edinburgh at the weekend. Amongst the backs, Ciaran Gaffney replaces Matteo Minozzi at full-back while Gabriele Di Giulio and Giovanbattista Venditti start on the wings.

Matteo Pratichetti and Faialaga Afamasaga are the centre combination while Serafin Bordoli and Guglielmo Palazzani start at fly-half and scrum-half respectively.
Up front, prop Eduardo Bello and Andrea de Marchi as well as hooker Luhandre Luus form a new front row combination while George Biagi and David Sisi start in the boiler room.

In the back row, Derick Minnie comes into the side at number eight while Jacopo Sarto and Johan Meyer are the two flankers.

The teams:

Agen: 15 Clément Laporte, 14 Lucas Tolot, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Pierre Fouyssac, 11 Nicolas Metge, 10 Mathieu Lamoulie, 9 Lucas Rubio, 8 Antoine Miquel, 7 Marco Kotze, 6 Yoan Tanga, 5 Corentin Braendlin, 4 Denis Marchois, 3 Vakhtangi Akhobadze, 2 Paula Ngauamo, 1 Kamaliele Tufele 
Replacements: 16 Clément Martinez, 17 Fernandez Correa, 18 Corentin Chabeaudie, 19 Christiaan Van der Merwe, 20 Jessy Jegerlhener, 21 Hugo Verdu, 22 Alban Conduche, 23 Jérémy Russell

Zebre: 15 Ciaran Gaffney, 14 Gabriele Di Giulio, 13 Matteo Pratichetti, 12 Faialaga Afamasaga, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Serafin Bordoli, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani, 8 Derick Minnie, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Jacopo Sarto, 5 Valerio Bernabo, 4 Leonard Krumov, 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Luhandre Luus, 1 Andrea de Marchi 
Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Andrea Lovotti, 18 Roberto Tenga, 19 David Sisi, 20 Giovanni Licata, 21 Marcello Violi, 22 Maicol Azzolini, 23 Tommaso Boni

Date: Friday, October 13
Venue: Stade Armandie
Kick-off: 20:00 local (19:00 GMT)
Referee: Ian Tempest (England)
Assistant referees: Andrew Jackson (England), John Meredith (England)

Enisei-STM v Bordeaux-Bègles

Enisei-STM, who are playing in this competition for a third successive year, face a daunting task as they take on Bordeaux-Bègles who are amongst the pre-tournament favourites.

Iurii Kushnarev and Alexey Shcherban start at fly-half and scrum-half respectively, while Ramil Gaisin lines up at full-back with Jurijs Baranovs and Denis Simplikevich the two wings and David Kacharava, and Dmitrii Gerasimov the centres.

In the forwards, Stanislav Selskii starts at hooker with Innokentiy Zykov and Andrei Polivalov the two props while Viacheslav Krasylnyk and Uldis Saulite pack down in the second row.

In the back row, Maxim Gargalic will wear the number eight jersey while Vitalii Orlov and Andrey Temno are the two flankers.

Meanwhile, UBB have changed their whole starting line-up after their home win over Toulon in the Top 14 at the weekend. Darly Domvo starts at full-back alongside wings Metuisela Talebulamaijaina and Iban Etcheverry.

France U20 stalwart Matthieu Jalibert starts at fly-half alongside scrum-half Gauthier Doubrere while Jean-Baptiste Dubié and Pablo Uberti line up in midfield.

In the forwards, Hugh Chalmers and Alexandre Roumat are the two starting flankers and Marco Tauleigne will start at number eight while Cyril Cazeaux and Johan Aliouat pack down in the boiler room.

They are joined by Ole Avei, who will wear the number two jersey, while Ravai Kovekalou and Thierry Paiva will be the two starting props.

The teams:

Enisei-STM: 15 Ramil Gaisin, 14 Jurijs Baranovs, 13 David Kacharava, 12 Dmitrii Gerasimov, 11 Denis Simplikevich, 10 Iurii Kushnarev, 9 Alexey Shcherban, 8 Maxim Gargalic, 7 Vitalii Orlov, 6 Andrey Temnov, 5 Viacheslav Krasylnyk, 4 Uldis Saulite, 3 Innokentiy Zykov, 2 Stanislav Selskii, 1 Andrei Polivalov  
Replacements: 16 AN Other,  17 Valery Morozov, 18 Evgenii Pronenko, 19 Anton Rudoi, 20 Aleksandr Budychenko, 21 Konstantin Uzunov, 22 Aleksei Mikhaltsov, 23 Evgeny Elgin

Bordeaux-Bègles: 15 Darly Domvo, 14 Metuisela Talebulamaijaina, 13 Jean-Baptiste Dubié, 12 Pablo Uberti, 11 Iban Etcheverry, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Gauthier Doubrere, 8 Marco Tauleigne, 7 Hugh Chalmers, 6 Alexandre Roumat, 5 Cyril Cazeaux, 4 Johan Aliouat, 3 Ravai Kovekalou, 2 Ole Avei, 1 Thierry Paiva 
Replacements: 16 Florian Dufour, 17 Jean-Baptiste Poux, 18 Lasha Tabidze, 19 Pierre Gayraud, 20 Cameron Woki, 21 Kitione Kamikamica, 22 Yann Lesgourgues, 23 Christian Schoeman

Date: Friday, October 13
Venue: Krasny Yar Stadium
Kick-off: 15:00 local (09:00 GMT)
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (England)
Assistant referees: Adam Leal (England), Lionel Spooner (England)
TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)