Heineken Cup Weekend previews




Pool Five

Scarlets v Exeter Chiefs

Parc y Scarlets, 1.35pm

Sky Sports (red button)

A dead rubber as both clubs have only banked a single point. With most of their internationals back, Scarlets look the better team, with Leinster hoping the Chiefs have lost interest for their trip to England in January.

SCARLETS: D Newton; L Williams, J Davies (capt), S Williams, A Fenby; R Priestland, A Davies; P John, M Rees, S Lee; G Earle, R Kelly; A Shingler, J Edwards, K Murphy.

EXETER CHIEFS: L Arscott; G Camacho, S Naqelevuki, J Shoemark, M Jess; G Steenson, H Thomas; B Sturgess, S Alcott, H Tui; T Hayes (capt), D Welch; T Johnson, J Scaysbrook, R Baxter. Referee: M Raynal (France).

Verdict: Scarlets win.

Pool Two

Toulouse v Ospreys

Stade Ernest Wallon, 1.35pm

Live Sky Sports 1

With Toulouse only missing their leader Thierry Dusautoir, in contrast to the Ospreys travelling without props Adam Jones, Aaron Jarvis a well as captain Alun Wyn Jones, it looks like Toulouse can stay clear of the Leicester Tigers. You need a mean scrum to survive in Toulouse.

TOULOUSE: Y Huget; M Medard, Y David, F Fritz, V Clerc; L McAlister, L Burgess; G Steenkamp, G Botha, Census Johnston; R Millo-Chluski, P Albacete; J Bouilhou, Y Nyanga, L Picamoles.

OSPREYS: R Fussell; R Jones, A Bishop, A Beck, E Walker; D Biggar, K Fotualii (capt); D Jones, S Baldwin, Campbell Johnston; I Gough, J King; R Jones, J Tipuric, J Bearman.

Referee: A Rolland (Ireland).

Verdict: Toulouse win.

Pool Three

Zebre v Harlequins

Stadio XXV Aprile, 1.35pm

Sky Sports (red button)

Nick Easter leads the Premiership champions over to Italy where the bonus point should be secured entering the last 10 minutes. The 16- point handicap bet is enticing.

ZEBRE: R Trevisan; G Venditti, G Garcia, M Pratichetti, L Sarto; L Orquera, T Tebaldi; M Aguero, C Festuccia, D Ryan; Q Geldenhuys, J Sole; N Cattina, M Bergamasco, D van Schalkwyk.

HARLEQUINS: M Brown; T Williams, M Hopper, T Casson, S Smith; N Evans, D Care; M Lambert, J Gray, J Johnston; O Kohn, G Robson; M Fa’asavalu, L Wallace, N Easter (capt).

Referee: N Paterson (Scotland)

Verdict: Harlequins with bonus point.

Pool Six

Sale Sharks v Toulon

Salford City Stadium, 3.40pm

Live Sky Sports 1

Danny Cipriani v Jonny Wilkinson or Tony Buckley v Andrew Sheridan, depending on your perspective. Really though, it is hard to see Cipriani, who starts on the bench, or Buckley making much impact as Toulon coach Bernard Laporte has named a team littered with proven world class performers from Freddy Michalak at nine to Carl Hayman, Bakkies Botha and Juan Fernandez Lobbe up front. Worth a look to see the galacticos and, of course, to monitor Buckley’s progress.

SALE: C Shepherd; M Jennings, C Uys, J Leota, M Cueto; R Miller, W Cliff; R Harrison, T Taylor, T Buckley; R Gray, F McKenzie; J Gaskell, D Seymour, R Vernon.

TOULON: D Armitage; R Wulf, M Bastareaud, M Giteau, D Smith; J Wilkinson, F Michalak; A Sheridan, S Bruno, C Hayman; B Botha, J Suta; JF Lobbe, S Armitage, C Masoe.

Referee: L Hodges (Wales)

Verdict: Toulon.

Pool One

Racing Métro 92 v Edinburgh

Stade Yves du Manoir, 6pm

Sky Sports (red button)

These next two matches should see Racing stay in contention to qualify for the knock-out stages as Edinburgh have failed to even register a single point, yet conceded 78, in the opening rounds. Their form is in marked contrast to the 11-try thriller these teams produced as Edinburgh eventually progressed to last season’s semi-final. The minus eight handicap looks beatable.

RACING MÉTRO 92: JM Hernandez; V Vakatawa, G Bousses, F Estebanez, J Imhoff; O Barkley, S Descons; J Brugnaut, T Bianchin, B Sa; F Metz, F van der Merwe; A Battut, J Cronje (capt), M Matadigo.

EDINBURGH: G Tonks; T Brown, N De Luca, M Scott, T Visser; G Laidlaw, R Rees; J Yapp, R Ford, G Cross; G Gilchrist, S Cox; D Denton, R Grant,S McInally.

Referee: P Fitzgibbon (Ireland).

Verdict: Racing to win.


Pool Six

Cardiff Blues v Montpellier

Cardiff Arms Park, 12.45pm

Live Sky Sports 2

The loss of Bradley Davies, Leigh Halfpenny and Jamie Roberts to injuries have severely weakened a Cardiff side that have been performing well below expected standards this season. They are already out of Europe, having lost their first two matches, and Montpellier coach Fabien Galthié has surely identified these next two matches as a real opportunity to reach the quarter-finals as one of the best runners-up.

CARDIFF BLUES: J Tovey; A Cuthbert, G Evans, D Hewitt, H Robinson; R Patchell, L Williams; S Hobbs, M Breeze, S Andrews; L Reed, J Down; J Navidi, S Warburton, A Pretorius (capt).

MONTPELLIER: B Thiery; Y Audrin, T Combezou, P Bosch, P berard; S Fernandez, B Paillaugue; M Nariashvili, A Creevy, M Bustos; D Hancke, A Fakate; A Bias, M Gorgodze, J Beattie.

Referee: J Lacey (Ireland).

Verdict: Montpellier win.

Pool Two

Leicester v Benetton Treviso

Welford Road, 3pm

Sky Sports (red button)

Manu Tuilagi, Geoff Parling, Ben Youngs and his converted hooker brother Tom return to the starting XV with Matthew Tait named ahead of Geordan Murphy at fullback.

LEICESTER TIGERS: M Tait; S Hamilton, M Tuilagi, D Bowden, V Goneva; G Ford, B Youngs; M Ayerza, T Youngs, M Castrogiovanni; G Kitchener, G Parling (capt); E Slater, J Salvi, T Waldrom.

BENETTON TREVISO: L McLean;C Loamanu, T Benvenuti, L Morisi, A Pratichetti; J Ambrosini, E Gori; A De Marchi, F Sbaraglini, F Rouvet; A Pavanello, V Bernabo; S Favaro, D Budd, M Vosawai.

Referee: G Clancy (Ireland).

Verdict: Leicester to win with bonus.

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