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Preview: European Cup, Round One

Thu, 11 Oct 2012 15:00
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We look at the opening Round of Europe's top club competition
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Leinster will target an unprecedented hat-trick of back-to-back European Cup titles when action in the continent's showpiece club tournament gets under way on Friday.

The Irish province were champions in 2009, 2011 and 2012, and now have a chance of matching Toulouse's record of four titles (1998, 2005, 2008, 2010).

Leinster will attempt to pull off these feats to the backdrop of ongoing talks into the future of the Cup competition.

The English and French teams believe the current format is weighted in favour of the Celtic nations, notably Leinster and their Irish compatriots Munster, who won in 2006 and 2008 meaning the two teams have claimed five out of the last seven titles.

The Irish provinces' rivals in England and France claim that is partly a result of a qualification system that allows them to rest their players during the Celtic League season.

The English and French sides believe no more than six Celtic League teams should qualify, although that would put at risk the involvement of Scottish and Italian sides who currently qualify automatically.

Talks seem likely to drag on for some time to come, with the added complication of television rights deals also to be negotiated.

But the competition goes ahead as normal this season, at least, and Leinster face English underdogs Exeter on Saturday focused on one thing: extending their unbeaten European record to 16 matches.

"Right now our sole initial target is to get out of the group," said Leinster coach Joe Schmidt, who has lost just one tournament contest in 18 matches in guiding them to their last two titles.

With just eight teams from the six groups progressing to the knock-out stages, Kiwi Schmidt said his team faced a tough task, with French giants Clermont and Scarlets making up Pool 5.

"It is such a competitive pool that I think only one team will qualify for the quarterfinals so I am not thinking about anything beyond our first match against Exeter Chiefs," he said

Ulster, a third Irish province, were surprise finalists last season (but well beaten 42-14 by Leinster) and find themselves in a tough Pool Four alongside Northampton, Glasgow and Castres.

Ulster are unbeaten in five matches this season and will on Friday host Castres, who learnt this week that coaching duo Laurent Travers and Laurent Labit will leave for another club, rumoured to be Racing-Metro, for next season.

One of the main draws for fans will be Toulon, the southern French club bankrolled by Mourad Boudjellal and boasting a raft of high-calibre stars such as Jonny Wilkinson, Matt Giteau, Carl Hayman, Delon Armitage, Gethin Jenkins, Andrew Sheridan, Bakkies Botha, Chris Masoe and Frederic Michalak.

Drawn in Pool Six against Welsh region Cardiff Blues, struggling English club Sale and fellow Top 14 rivals Montpellier, Botha said he was delighted to be appearing on the European club stage.

"It's a great challenge for me but also for the team to test ourselves against the best," said the veteran Springbok lock.

"It's the highest of the high in rugby. When you see the level of the Top 14 and only six teams qualify for the European Cup, you quickly understand that this competition is particularly elevated."

Two-time champions Leicester (2001, 2002) have been drawn with French giants Toulouse, Welsh region Ospreys and the Italians of Treviso in Pool Two.

English champions Harlequins have been handed a slightly more favourable draw in Pool Three alongside two-time finalists Biarritz, the fourth Irish province Connacht and Zebre, the Italian club that has taken the place of the now-disbanded Aironi.

Saracens will also be hoping to fly the English flag in Pool One, up against Munster, Racing-Metro and Edinburgh, whose impressive performances last season will stand themselves in good stead for a go at getting to the knock-out phase.

All the teams and match details for Round One:

Friday, October 12

Ospreys v Treviso
(Liberty Stadium, Kick-off: 20.00, 19.00 GMT)

Teams:

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Andrew Bishop, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Kahn Fotuali'I, 8 Jonathan Thomas, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Ryan Jones, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dwyer, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 George Stowers, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Thomas Isaacs.

Treviso: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Ludovico Nitoglia, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Tommaso Iannone, 10 Kristopher Burton, 9 Tobie Botes, 8 Manoa Vosawai, 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Simone Favaro, 5 Valerio Bernabo, 4 Antonio Pavanello (captain), 3 Bees Roux, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Alberto De Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Enrico Ceccato, 17 Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet, 18 Pedro Di Santo, 19 Francesco Minto, 20 Paul Derbyshire, 21 Robert Barbieri, 22 Fabio Semenzato, 23 Andrea Pratichett.

Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: David Changleng (Scotland), Bob Nevins (Scotland)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)

Ulster v Castres
(Ravenhill, 20.00, 19.00 GMT)

Teams:

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Patrick Jackson, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Stephen Ferris, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller (captain), 3 John Afoa, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Callum Black, 18 Adam Macklin, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Mike McComish, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Luke Marshall, 23 Craig Gilroy.

Castres: 15 Romain Teulet, 14 Marcel Garvey, 13 Seremaia Bai, 12 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Pierre Bernard, 9 Thierry Lacrampe, 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 7 Yannick Caballero, 6 Piula Faasalele, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 4 Matthias Rolland (captain), 3 Michael Coetzee, 2 Mathieu Bonello, 1 Yannick Forestier.
Replacements: 16 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 17 Gregory Marmoiton, 18 Hai Lazar, 19 Joe Tekori, 20 Antonie Claassen, 21 Rory Kockott, 22 Paul Bonnefond, 23 Thomas Sanchou.

Referee: Andrew Small (England)
Assistant referees: Martin Fox (England) , Stuart Terheege (England)
TMO: Geoff Warren (England)

Saturday, October 13

Zebre v Connacht
(Stadio XXV Aprile, Kick-off: 13.35, 12.35 GMT)

Teams:

Zebre: 15 Daniel Halangahu, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Matteo Pratichetti, 12 Gonzalo Garcia (captain), 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Tito Tebaldi,8 Dries van Schalkwyk, 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Nicola Belardo, 5 Josh Sole, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Luca Redolfini, 2 Davide Giazzon, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Carlo Fazzari, 19 Mike Van Vuuren, 20 Filippo Ferrarini, 21 Luca Martinelli, 22 Ruggero Trevisan, 23 Leonardo Sarto.

Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Tiernan O'Halloran, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 John Muldoon, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Nathan White (captain), 2 Ethienne Reynecke, 1 Dennis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, 17 Rodney Ah You, 18 Ronan Loughney, 19 Dave Gannon, 20 Johnny O'Connor, 21 Dave Moore, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Mata Fifita.

Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant referees: Wayne Davies (Wales), Greg Morgan (Wales)
TMO: Nigel Whitehouse (Wales)

Racing Metro v Munster
Stade de France, Kick-off: 13.35, 12.35 GMT)

Teams:

Racing Metro: 15 Benjamin Fall, 14 Julien Jane, 13 Mirco Bergamasco, 12 Fabrice Estebanez, 11 Julien Saubade, 10 Olly Barkley, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Masinivanua Matadigo, 7 Jacques Cronje (captain), 6 Antoine Battut, 5 Francois Van der merwe, 4 Karim Ghezal, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Andrea Lo Cicero .
Replacements: 16 Thomas Bianchin, 17 Eddy Ben Arous , 18 Benjamin Sa, 19 Fabrice Metz, 20 Bernard le Roux, Sebastien Descons, 21 Camille Gerondeau, 22 Sebastien Descons, 23 Virimi Vakatawa

Munster: 15 Ian Keatley, 14 Doug Howlett (captain), 13 Casey Laulala, 12 James Downey, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Peter O'Mahony. 7 Sean Dougall, 6 Donncha Ryan, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Billy Holland, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Damien Varley, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Mick Sherry, 17 Marcus Horan, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Dave O'Callaghan, 20 Paddy Butler, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Danny Barnes, 23 Denis Hurley.

Referee: Greg Garner (England)
Assistant referees: David Rose (England), Andrew Pearce (England)
TMO: Trevor Fisher (England)

Edinburgh v Saracens
(Murrayfield, Kick-off: 13.35, 12.35 GMT)

Teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Tom Brown, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 9 Richie Rees, 8 Stuart McInally, 7 Ross Rennie, 6 David Denton, 5 Sean Cox, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Andy Titterrell, 17 Allan Jacobsen, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Robert McAlpine, 20 Netani Talei, 21 Chris Leck, 22 Harry Leonard, 23 Dougie Fife.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (captain), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 George Kruis, 20 Andy Saull, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Chris Wyles.

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Michael Black (Ireland), Olly Hodges (Ireland)
TMO: Peter Ferguson (Ireland)

Leinster v Exeter Chiefs
(RDS, Kick-off: 15.40, 14.40 GMT)

Teams:

Leinster: 15 Ian Madigan, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Fergus McFadden, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Damian Browne, 4 Leo Cullen (captain), 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Leo Auva'a, 21 Jordi Murphy, 22 Isaac Boss, 23 Fionn Carr.

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Ian Whitten, 13 Phil Dollman, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 James Hanks, 4 Tom Hayes (captain, 3 Carl Rimmer, 2 Simon Alcott, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Chris Whitehead, 17 Chris Budgen, 18 Ben Moon, 19 Ally Muldowney, 20 Dean Mumm, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Ignacio Mieres, 23 Sireli Naqelevuki.

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Jean-Luc Rebollal (France), Cyril Lafon (France)
TMO: Daniel Irazoqui (France)

Clermont Auvergne v Scarlets
(Stade Marcel Michelin, Kick-off: 15.40, 14.40 GMT)

Teams:

Clermont Auvergne: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 Aurelien Rougerie (captain), 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Naipolioni Nalaga, 10 Brock James, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Gerhard Vosloo, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Daniel Kotze, 19 Julien Pierre, 20 Elvis Vermeulen, 21 Loic Jacquet, 21 Ludovic Radosavljevic, 22 David Skrela, 23 Benson Stanley.

Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Morgan Stoddart, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Rob McCusker (captain), 7 Josh Turnbull, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Johan Snyman, 4 George Earle, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Shaun Hopkins, 18 Deacon Manu, 19 Sione Timani, 20 Kieran Murphy, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Gareth Maule.

Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Paul Haycock (Ireland), Simon McDowell (Ireland)
TMO: Dermot Moloney (Ireland)

Harlequins v Biarritz
(Twickenham Stoop, Kick-off: 18.00, 17.00 GMT)

Teams:

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care,8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Ollie Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Joe Marler,
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Tom Guest, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Seb Stegmann,

Biarritz: 15 Iain Balshaw, 14 Taku Ngwenya, 13 Dane Haylett-Petty, 12 Seremaïa Burotu, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Mat Berquist, 9 Yann Lesgourgues, 8 Talalelei Gray, 7 Wenceslas Lauret, 6 Magnus Lund (captain), 5 Thibault Dubarry, 4 Erik Lund, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Arnaud Heguy, 1 Fabien Barcella.
Replacements: 16 Benoit August, 17 Lodewicus Blaauw, 18 Thomas Synaeghel, 19 Pelu Taele, 20 Benoit Guyot, 21 Julien Peyrelongue, 22 Damien Traille, 23 Benoît Baby.

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Leo Colgan (Ireland), John Carvill (Ireland)
TMO: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)

Sunday, October 14

Sale Sharks v Cardiff Blues
(Salford City Stadium, 12.45, 11.45 GMT)

Teams:

Sale Sharks: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Mark Jennings, 13 Will Addison, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Nathan Fowles, 8 Andy Powell, 7 David Seymour (captain), 6 Richie Vernon, 5 Fraser McKenzie, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Tony Buckley, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Joe Ward, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 James Gaskell, 21 Cillian Willis, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Johnny Leota.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Gavin Evans, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tom James, 10 Ceri Sweeney, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Andries Pretorius (captain), 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Lou Reed, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Benoit Bourrust, 2 Marc Breeze, 1 Tafa'ao Filise.
Replacements: 16 Andi Kyriacou, 17 Nathan Trevett, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 James Down, 20 Robin Copeland, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Dan Fish.

Referee: Jérôme Garces (France)
Assistant referees: Patrick Péchambert (France), Sébastien Cloute (France)
TMO: Jean-Marie Piraveau (France)

Northampton Saints v Glasgow Warriors
(Franklin's Gardens, Kick-off: 12.45, 11.45 GMT)

Teams:

Northampton Saints: 15 James Wilson, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Dom Waldouck, 11 Vasily Artemyev, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Rhys Oakley, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Phil Dowson, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 GJ Van Velze, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Tom May.

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 John Barclay, 6 Josh Strauss, 5 Al Kellock (captain), 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Mike Cusack, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Finlay Gillies, 17 Ofa Fainga'anuku, 18 Gordon Reid, 19 Tom Ryder, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 James Eddie, 22 Niko Matawalu, 23 Peter Murchie.

Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Christophe Berdos (France), Stéphane Boyer (France)
TMO: Daniel Gillet (France)

Toulouse v Leicester Tigers
(Le Stadium, Kick-off: 15.00, 14.00 GMT)

Teams:

Toulouse: 15 Clement Poitrenaud, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Luke McAlister, 9 Jean Marc Doussain, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Thierry Dusautoir (captain), 6 Yannick Nyanga, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Romain Millo Chlusky, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Jean Batiste Poux, 18 Antoine Guillamon, 19 Patricio Albacete, 20 Jean Bouilhou, 21 Yannick Jauzion, 22 Luke Burgess, 23 Timoci Matanavou.

Leicester Tigers: 15 Scott Hamilton, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jordan Crane (captain), 7 Thomas Waldrom, 6 Steve Mafi, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Graham Kitchener, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Logovi'i Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Richard Thorpe, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 George Ford, 23 Matt Smith.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Sean Brickell (Wales), Jon Mason (Wales)
TMO: Derek Bevan (Wales)

Toulon v Montpellier
(Stade Felix Mayol, Kick-off: 20.00, 19.00 GMT)

Teams:

Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Vincent Martin, 13 Maxime Mermoz, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 David Smith, 10 Jonny Wilkinson (captain), 9 Frederic Michalak, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Pierrick Gunther, 5 Jocelino Suta, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Sebastien Bruno, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Mickael Ivaldi, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Virgile Bruni, 19 Mathieu Bastareaud, 20 Benjamin Lapeyre, 21 Sébastien Tillous-Borde, 22 Simon Shaw, 23 Davit Kubriashvili.

Montpellier: 15 Lucas Amorosino, 14 Yoan Audrin, 13 Matt Carraro, 12 Paul Bosch, 11 Yohann Artru, 10 Ilian Perraux 9 Julien Tomas (captain), 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Rémy Martin, 6 Alexandre Bias, 5 Mickael Demarco, 4 Drickus Hancke, 3 Maximiliano Bustos, 2 Mickael Ladhuie, 1 Yvan Watremez.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 18 George Jgenti, 19 Aliki Fakate, 20 Mamuka Gorgodze, 21 Benoit Paillaugue, 22 Pierre Bérard, 23 Timoci Nagusa.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce, Paul Dix
TMO: Graham Hughes

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