Tomos Williams makes Blues return for Leinster test

Date published: November 21 2020

There’s four games in the PRO14 on Sunday as Ospreys face Benetton, Zebre host Connacht, Leinster tackle Cardiff Blues and Ulster meet Scarlets.

Ospreys v Benetton

The Ospreys have named their team to face Benetton in their PRO14 encounter at St Helen’s on Sunday.

Wales flyer George North returns to the starting line-up for the first time in the 2020/21 season. He’s joined in the back three with last weekend’s try-scorer Luke Morgan on the opposite wing and Mat Protheroe at full-back.

Stephen Myler holds the keys to number 10 alongside Reuben Morgan Williams to form the half-back pairing. Keiran Williams and Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler complete the starting backs lining up in midfield.

Up front, Rhys Davies makes his first Ospreys start, partnering Adam Beard in the second-row. Dan Lydiate takes the reigns as captain once again alongside an unchanged back-row of Will Griffiths and Gareth Evans.

Gareth Thomas, Ifan Phillips and Tom Botha form the front-row with Rhodri Jones, Dewi Lake and Ma’afu Fia providing the cover. Lloyd Ashley, Olly Cracknell and Sam Cross complete the forward contingent off the bench with Shaun Venter and Josh Thomas covering the backs to complete the matchday 23.

Meanwhile, Benetton head coach Kieran Crowley has made seven changes to his run-on side which lost away to Cardiff Blues on Monday.

In the backline, there are two alterations with Tommaso Benvenuti replacing Nacho Brex at inside centre and Dewaldt Duvenage taking over from Callum Braley as the starting scrum-half.

In the forwards, Marco Barbini starts at number eight where he comes in for Toa Halafihi, while Michele Lamaro and Irné Herbst are preferred to Manuel Zuliani and Eli Snyman on the openside flank and at lock respectively.

The final changes are in the front-row where Tiziano Pasquali and Cherif Traoré replace Filippo Alongi and Nicola Quaglio as the starting props.

The teams:

Ospreys: 15 Mat Protheroe, 14 George North, 13 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, 12 Keiran Williams, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Dan Lydiate (c), 6 Will Griffiths, 5 Rhys Davies, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Ifan Phillips, 1 Gareth Thomas
Replacements: 16 Dewi Lake, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Lloyd Ashley, 20 Olly Cracknell, 21 Sam Cross, 22 Shaun Venter, 23 Josh Thomas

Benetton: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Ratuva Tavuyara, 13 Joaquin Riera, 12 Tommaso Benvenuti, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Marco Barbini, 7 Michele Lamaro, 6 Giovanni Pettinelli, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Irné Herbst, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Hame Faiva, 1 Cherif Traoré
Replacements: 16 Tomas Baravalle, 17 Thomas Gallo, 18 Filippo Alongi, 19 Riccardo Favretto, 20 Alberto Sgarbi, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Luca Petrozzi, 23 Leonardo Sarto

Venue: St Helen’s
Kick-off: 13:45 GMT
Referee: Andrew Brace
Assistant referees: Aled Evans, Ben Breakspear
Television match official: Sean Brickell

Zebre v Connacht

Zebre have made five changes to their side that will take on Connacht at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

Following the cancellation of the Italy v Fiji clash, there’s a return to the club scene for number eight David Sisi, who starts against the Irish province.

Elsewhere, Tommaso Boni is back at centre after missing the games against Scarlets and Ulster. He’s joined in the midfield by captain Giulio Bisegni.

Meanwhile, Irish international Ultan Dillane could make his 100th Connacht appearance after he was named in the matchday 23 to face the Italians.

Dillane is among the replacements for Andy Friend’s side, which shows six changes from the team that lost to Scarlets at The Sportsground last weekend. Dillane made his Connacht debut in December 2014 and was a starter in the PRO12 final 18 months later.

Sean O’Brien has ended a long injury absence to be handed his first starting jersey in nearly two years. The Galway native last started for Connacht in the 2018 Christmas interpro against Ulster, with his only appearance last season coming off the bench against Leinster in November before suffering serious shoulder and foot injuries.

O’Brien starts in a new-look back-row with Sean Masterson at openside flanker and Jarrad Butler captaining the side from number eight.

Sean’s brother Eoghan is drafted into the second-row alongside Gavin Thornbury, while there is a change of both props with Denis Buckley and Jack Aungier starting alongside hooker Shane Delahunt.

In the backs Colm Reilly and Jack Carty continue their half-back partnership, while Tom Farrell comes into the centre alongside Tom Daly with Sammy Arnold moving to the wing. Alex Wootton and John Porch complete the side.

The teams:

Zebre: 15 Junior Laloifi, 14 Giovanni D’Onofrio, 13 Giulio Bisegni (c), 12 Tommaso Boni, 11 Gabriele Di Giulio, 10 Antonio Rizzi, 9 Joshua Renton, 8 David Sisi, 7 Renato Giammarioli, 6 Lorenzo Masselli, 5 Mick Kearney, 4 Leonard Krumov, 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Marco Manfredi, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Riccardo Brugnara, 18 Alexandru Tarus, 19 Matteo Nocera, 20 Massimo Ceciliani, 21 Nicolò Casilio, 22 Paolo Pescetto, 23 Michelangelo Biondelli

Connacht: 15 John Porch, 14 Sammy Arnold, 13 Tom Farrell, 12 Tom Daly, 11 Alex Wootton, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Colm Reilly, 8 Jarrad Butler (c), 7 Sean Masterson, 6 Sean O’Brien, 5 Gavin Thornbury, 4 Eoghan Masterson, 3 Jack Aungier, 2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Jonny Murphy, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Abraham Papali’i, 21 Stephen Kerins, 22 Conor Fitzgerald, 23 Peter Sullivan

Venue: Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Kick-off: 15:30 local (14:30 GMT)
Referee: Dan Jones
Assistant referees: Marius Mitrea, Matteo Liperini
Television match official: Stefano Penne

Leinster v Cardiff Blues

The Leinster team to face Cardiff Blues in their Round Seven PRO14 clash at the RDS Arena has been announced by head coach Leo Cullen.

Cullen has selected four players from the Leinster Rugby Academy in his matchday 23 and has selected the same backline that accounted for Edinburgh on Monday.

As a result it’s a back three of Jimmy O’Brien, Cian Kelleher and Dave Kearney with Ciarán Frawley and Academy back Liam Turner in the centre.

Luke McGrath and Harry Byrne are the half-backs.

In the pack, there are changes in the second-row and the back-row respectively but the front-row of Peter Dooley, James Tracy and Michael Bent start once again.

It’s a new second-row with Ross Molony joined by Ryan Baird. Baird came off the bench in the win against Edinburgh having recovered from an adductor injury.

In the back-row, Josh Murphy comes in at blindside flanker with Dan Leavy moving across to openside. Rhys Ruddock again captains the side from number eight.

Meanwhile, Wales international Tomos Williams returns from injury to start for Cardiff Blues.

The scrum-half has been sidelined with a shoulder injury since August’s clash against Scarlets, but is one of six changes made by boss John Mulvihill from the win over Benetton on Monday.

Williams is reunited with Jarrod Evans to form an all-international half-back partnership, having progressed through the Cardiff Blues pathway together.

Six-times capped fly-half Evans, who has made 81 appearances for Cardiff Blues to date, will captain his home region for the first time at RDS Arena.

After crossing for a try against the Italian outfit, academy product Ben Thomas makes his first start of the season at centre in the absence of Willis Halaholo.

The final change in the backline sees Aled Summerhill linking up with Matthew Morgan and Owen Lane in the back three.

Two changes are made in the front-row, with Ethan Lewis and Dmitri Arhip joining Corey Domachowski, while the second-row partnership of Ben Murphy and Rory Thornton continues.

With seven back-row players currently unavailable, academy graduate Alun Lawrence will make his first senior start for the region, after signing his first professional deal over the summer.

Lawrence will wear the number seven jersey, as James Ratti and Josh Turnbull retain their starting spots in the back row to complete the pack.

17 of the matchday squad, including seven of the replacements – have been developed through the Cardiff Blues academy system.

Wales international Hallam Amos will make his 100th PRO14 appearance from the bench.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Jimmy O’Brien, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Liam Turner, 12 Ciarán Frawley, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Harry Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Rhys Ruddock (c), 7 Dan Leavy, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Ryan Baird, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Bent, 2 James Tracy, 1 Peter Dooley
Replacements: 16 Dan Sheehan, 17 Michael Milne, 18 Tom Clarkson, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Jack Dunne, 21 Rowan Osborne, 22 Michael Silvester, 23 Scott Penny

Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Garyn Smith, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Aled Summerhill, 10 Jarrod Evans (c), 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Josh Turnbull, 7 Alun Lawrence, 6 James Ratti, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Ben Murphy, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Ethan Lewis, 1 Corey Domachowski
Replacements: 16 Iestyn Harris, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Keiron Assiratti, 19 Teddy Williams, 20 Gwilym Bradley, 21 Jamie Hill, 22 Max Llewellyn, 23 Hallam Amos

Venue: RDS Arena
Kick-off: 17:15 GMT
Referee: Mike Adamson
Assistant referees: George Clancy, Peter Martin
Television match official: Ollie Hodges

Ulster v Scarlets

Ulster have named their side to face Scarlets in what should be an entertaining game at Kingspan Stadium on Sunday.

There are six changes to the side that defeated Zebre away on Monday evening. In the back three, Rob Lyttle comes in on the left wing, joining Matt Faddes on the right wing and Michael Lowry at full-back. Stewart Moore is named in midfield alongside Luke Marshall. Bill Johnston retains his starting berth at fly-half, and John Cooney comes in at scrum-half.

The starting front-row of Eric O’Sullivan, John Andrew and Marty Moore is retained. Alan O’Connor will lead out the Ulster men and is paired with Kieran Treadwell in the second-row. Matty Rea will start at openside, Sean Reidy comes in at blindside, and Marcell Coetzee completes the pack at number eight.

Tom O’Toole has returned from injury and is named among the forward replacements with Adam McBurney, Kyle McCall, David O’Connor and Jordi Murphy. Alby Mathewson, Ian Madigan and Craig Gilroy are the backline reinforcements.

For Scarlets, with Johnny McNicholl called up into the Wales squad for the Autumn Nations Cup, Angus O’Brien is handed the number 15 jersey and slots into a back three alongside Ryan Conbeer and Steff Evans.

The other change comes up front and sees Danny Drake make his first Scarlets start in the second-row. Drake replaces Morgan Jones who has been identified as a close Covid contact and under public health protocols is currently isolating.

Steff Hughes captains the side from centre and continues in an unchanged midfield partnership with Paul Asquith, while Dan Jones and Dane Blacker combine again at half-back.

Rob Evans, Taylor Davies and Javan Sebastian pack down in the front-row, while Ed Kennedy, Jac Morgan and Sione Kalamafoni form the back-row unit.

There are a couple of changes on the bench with Jac Price and Sam Costelow coming into the matchday squad.

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Michael Lowry, 14 Matt Faddes, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stewart Moore, 11 Rob Lyttle, 10 Bill Johnston, 9 John Cooney, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Matty Rea, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Alan O’Connor (c), 3 Marty Moore, 2 John Andrew, 1 Eric O’Sullivan
Replacements: 16 Adam McBurney, 17 Kyle McCall, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 David O’Connor, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Craig Gilroy

Scarlets: 15 Angus O’Brien, 14 Ryan Conbeer, 13 Steff Hughes (c), 12 Paul Asquith, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Dane Blacker, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Jac Morgan, 6 Ed Kennedy, 5 Danny Drake, 4 Sam Lousi, 3 Javan Sebastian, 2 Taylor Davies, 1 Rob Evans
Replacements: 16 Daf Hughes, 17 Phil Price, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Jac Price, 20 Uzair Cassiem, 21 Will Homer, 22 Sam Costelow, 23 Tyler Morgan

Venue: Kingspan Stadium
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Andrea Piardi
Assistant referees: Sean Gallagher, Chris Busby
Television match official: Brian MacNeice