Things to look out for in Round Six of the European Challenge Cup
The pool stages of the European Challenge Cup will reach a thrilling finale this weekend and there’s plenty to play for amongst the Aviva Premiership Rugby sides.
Newcastle Falcons will be looking to make it six wins from six, Gloucester Rugby are eyeing top spot and there’s still work to be done for Worcester Warriors, London Irish and Sale Sharks.
So as we gear up for Round Six of the Challenge Cup, here’s what to look out for over the weekend.
Gloucester vs Pau
What a contest we could see at the Kingsholm as second placed Gloucester entertain Pau, who stand at the top of pool three.
The Cherry and Whites are through to the quarter-finals already but can secure a favourable home tie if they beat their French opponents on Friday night.
No place like Holm. Excited to hear this place full of noise tonight! pic.twitter.com/tAAmuB1SlP
— Gloucester Rugby (@gloucesterrugby) January 19, 2018
And with a home quarter-final on the line, Johan Ackermann has made 11 changes to the starting line-up with the likes of Billy Twelvetrees, Ollie Thorley and Lewis Ludlow all returning to the XV for the huge clash.
Gloucester were downed 27-21 in the reverse fixture but the Cherry and Whites have been a different animal under the lights of the Kingsholm recently.
Enisei-STM vs Newcastle Falcons
What a European campaign it has been for the men at Kingston Park – cruising to five wins from five and sitting top of pool one.
The Falcons will now look to maintain their perfect run against Russian side Enisei-STM who are yet to pick up a victory in the competition.
TEAM NEWS: Newcastle Falcons have named their side for tomorrow’s European Challenge Cup match against Russian champions Enisei-STM in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi https://t.co/BNEWTyiiDR pic.twitter.com/f8soxUuuWO
— Newcastle Falcons (@FalconsRugby) January 19, 2018
And Dean Richards has made just two changes from the side who beat Enisei 64-7 last weekend.
Craig Willis replaces Joel Hodgson at fly-half and Jack Payne comes in for Scott Wilson in a match that will take place in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Brive vs Worcester Warriors
The Warriors played out a thrilling 24-24 contest against Connacht at the Sixways but it does leave Alan Solomons’ men with plenty to do as they travel to France to take on Brive.
Sitting second in the pool, the Warriors must avoid defeat but even a victory might not guarantee a place in the quarter-finals.
🗞️ TEAM NEWS | Warriors make seven changes ahead of European decider
— Worcester Warriors 🏉 (@WorcsWarriors) January 19, 2018
And Worcester have made seven changes for the European decider as the Warriors recalls Ben Howard, centre Jackson Willison and scrum-half Michael Dowsett.
Alafoti Faosilva and Matt Cox return to the back row ahead of the crunch fixture with the Top 14 side.
Krasny Yar vs London Irish
Back-to-back victories over the Siberian club will be the sole mission for London Irish as they look to snatch an unlikely quarter-final berth.
Tom Fowlie comes straight into the starting line-up after re-signing for the club last week and Sebastian de Chaves will lead the side out for a crucial fixture at the Avchala Stadium in Tbilisi.
📢| TEAM NEWS: Here is the team that will play Krasny Yar in the Round 6 @ERChallengeCup clash at the Avchala Stadium in Tbilisi tomorrow, kicking off at 1pm GMT (5pm local time). Read more 👉 https://t.co/Ysm0pilbvr pic.twitter.com/19lnZYNg7W
— London Irish (@LiRFC) January 19, 2018
Irish must secure a bonus point victory and hope a number of results go their way if they are to progress.
A repeat of the 47-17 victory last time out will do Nick Kennedy’s side the world of good as they look to keep momentum going for the league campaign.
Toulouse vs Sale Sharks
Sale Sharks are another team in desperate need of a victory if they are to muscle their way into quarter-final contention.
And their task is far from easy as they travel to France to take on Toulouse, knowing even a bonus point result might not be enough.
— Sale Sharks🦈 (@SaleSharksRugby) January 19, 2018
Toulouse sit bottom of the pool and Sale have opted to make just four changes to the side which edged out Lyon at the AJ Bell last weekend.
Josh Charnley, Luke James, Alexandru Tarus and Josh Beaumont all make the starting XV and it’s a special occasion for Mike Haley who will be making his 100th appearance for the club.