Preview: European Cup, Round Three

Thu, 05 Dec 2013 17:20
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Toulouse, Ulster and Leinster will be out to continue their winning ways in Round Three of the European Cup this weekend.

Toulouse, Ulster and Leinster will be out to continue their winning ways in Round Three of the European Cup this weekend.

As a mark of respect to the late Nelson Mandela and following the tribute by the IRB on behalf of the rugby family, ERC have requested that all clubs playing in this weekend's European Cup and European Challenge Cup matches observe a minute's silence prior to kick-off.

The three European powerhouses are the only sides to have won all of their matches thus far in what has been yet another pulsating pool stage.

Traditionally, the back to back rounds go a long way to deciding which of Europe’s elite clubs qualify for the knock-out stage with increased hope of making it to the Cardiff 2014 Final at the Millennium Stadium next May.

The return fixtures concept, which was pioneered in 1999/2000, has become an unmissable feature of the European calendar and this season’s clashes see the top two clubs in three of the six pools battling it out for honours.

In Pool One, Leinster and Northampton Saints renew their rivalry with a reprise of the memorable 2011 final when they meet at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday, while in Pool Two, Exeter Chiefs take on reigning champions, Toulon, in a sell-out tie at Sandy Park also on Saturday.

Meanwhile, in Pool Six at Thomond Park on Sunday, Munster Rugby host Perpignan in what has all the makings of a typically full-on contest.

Going into the back to back games, Irish clubs lead the way with a win percentage of 75 from eight games to date, while France are next on 58 per cent from 12 matches

Scotland are on 50 per cent from four games with English clubs on 41 per cent with five wins from 12 games.

The Ospreys head to France this Friday with their hopes close to being extinguished by the halfway mark of the campaign.

Back-to-back defeats to Leinster and Northampton Saints have left them marooned at the bottom of Pool One and another reverse would all but end their European involvement before the knockout stages.

Steve Tandy's troops have failed to pick up a single point so far after a 19-9 Liberty Stadium loss to the triple European Cup kings and a 27-16 defeat to the Saints at Franklin's Gardens.

The region haven't reached the last eight since 2010 and successive wins against Castres would now appear to be a must if they are to put that right this time around.

Castres began with a win over Northampton in Round One and were unlucky not to pick up at least a losing bonus point at Leinster last time out so victory this week is vital to their own chances of a first European Cup quarterfinal place since 2002.

Serge Milhas' men haven't lost at home all season, with Grenoble, Stade Francais, Toulon and Racing Metro joining Northampton and Biarritz in falling short at the Stade Pierre Antione.

Round Three fixtures and teams:

Friday, December 6

Cardiff Blues v Glasgow Warriors
(Cardiff Arms Park - Kick-off: 20.00; 20.00 GMT)


Cardiff Blues:
15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Richard Smith, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Rory Watts-Jones, 6 Macauley Cook, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Chris Dicomidis, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Sam Hobbs (captain).

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Gabriel Ascarate, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Niko Matawalu, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Al Kellock (captain), 4 Tom Ryder, 3 Moray Low, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Jon Welsh, 18 Ed Kalman, 19 Leone Nakarawa, 20 Tyrone Holmes, 21 Ryan Wilson, 22 Chris Cusiter, 23 Ruaridh Jackson.

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Leo Colgan (Ireland), Eanna O'Dowd (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

Castres v Ospreys
(Stade Pierre Antoin - Kick-off: 21.00; 20.00 GMT)


15 Brice Dulin, 14 Marcel Garvey, 13 Romain Cabannes (captain), 12 Paul Bonnefond, 11 Remi Grosso, 10 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 7 Piula Faasalele, 6 Ibrahim Diarra, 5 Richie Gray, 4 Christophe Samson, 3 Karena Wihongi, 2 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 1 Mihaita Lazar.
Replacements: 16 Michael Coetzee, 17 Yannick Forestier, 18 Anton Peikrishvili, 19 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 20 Yannick Caballero, 21 Julien Tomas, 22 Seremaia Bai, 23 Geoffrey Palis.

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Aisea Natoga, 13 Tom Isaacs, 12 Ben John, 11 Jeff Hassler, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Ryan Jones, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Tyler Ardron, 5 James King, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Dan Suter, 19 Morgan Allen, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Tom Grabham.

Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant referees: David Wilkinson (Ireland), Olly Hodges (Ireland)
TMO: Jude Quinn (Ireland)

Saturday, December 7

Exeter Chiefs v Toulon
(Sandy Park - Kick-off: 13.35; 13.35 GMT)


Exeter Chiefs: TBC

Toulon: TBC

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Eddie Hogan-O'Connell (Ireland), Nigel Correll (Ireland)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)

Zebre v Saracens
(Stadio XXV Aprile - Kick-off: 14.35; 13.35 GMT)



Saracens: TBC

Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France)
Assistant referees: Patrick Pechambert (France), Jean-Luc Rebollal (France)
TMO: Daniel Irazoqui (France)

Clermont Auvergne v Scarlets
(Stade Marcel Michelin - Kick-off: 14.35; 13.35 GMT)


Clermont Auvergne:

Scarlets: TBC

Referee: JP Doyle (England)
Assistant referees: Martin Fox (England), Kevin Stewart (England)

Racing Metro v Harlequins
(Stade Marcel Michelin - Kick-off: 16.40; 15.40 GMT)


Racing Metro:

Harlequins: TBC

Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris (Wales), Simon Rees (Wales)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)

Northampton Saints v Leinster
(Franklin's Gardens - Kick-off: 18.00; 18.00 GMT)


Northampton Saints

Leinster: TBC

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Sean Brickell (Wales), Jonathan Mason (Wales)
TMO: Tim Hayes (Wales)

Ulster v Treviso
(Ravenhill - Kick-off: 18.00; 18.00 GMT)



Treviso: TBC

Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: David Rose (England), Paul Dix (England)
TMO: Geoff Warren (England)

Sunday, December 8

Munster v Perpignan
(Thomond Park - Kick-off: 12.45; 12.45 GMT)



Perpignan: TBC

Referee: Greg Garner (England)
Assistant referees: Tim Wigglesworth (England), Stuart Terheege (England)
TMO: Sean Davey (England)

Edinburgh v Gloucester
(Murrayfield - Kick-off: 13.00; 13.00 GMT)



Gloucester: TBC

Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Sébastien Clouté (France), Jérôme Lamirand (France)
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (France)

Toulouse v Connacht
(Stade Ernest Wallon - Kick-off: 16.00; 15.00 GMT)


Toulouse: TBC

Connacht: TBC

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Stefano Pennè (Italy), Elia Rizzo (Italy)
TMO: Alan Falzone (Italy)

Leicester Tigers v Montpellier
(Welford Road - Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)


Leicester Tigers: TBC

Montpellier: TBC

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Mark Patton (Ireland), John Carvill (Ireland)
TMO: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)

There are currently no matches being played
Fri, 27 May 2016
Hurricanes v Highlanders 07h35 Wellington
Waratahs v Chiefs 09h40 Sydney
Boland v Eagles 13h00 Wellington
Free State Cheetahs v Pumas 13h00 Bloemfontein
Kings v Jaguares 17h00 Ascoli Piceno
Border v Falcons 17h00 East London
Sat, 28 May 2016
Blues v Crusaders 07h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Sunwolves 09h40 Canberra
Western Province v Griquas 10h15 Newlands
Blue Bulls v Leopards 12h15 Loftus Versfeld
Stormers v Cheetahs 13h00 DHL Newlands
Namibia v Griffons 13h00 Windhoek
Golden Lions v EP Kings 13h00 Johannesburg
Saracens v Exeter Chiefs 14h00 London
Bulls v Lions 15h05 Loftus Versfeld
Leinster v Connacht 16h30 Edinburgh
Sun, 29 May 2016
Rebels v Force 06h05 Melbourne
England v Wales 14h00 London
Pool 1
Team P W D L Pts
Saracens 6 6 0 0 28
Ulster 6 4 0 2 18
Oyonnax 6 1 0 5 7
Toulouse 6 1 0 5 5
Pool 2
Team P W D L Pts
Exeter Chiefs 6 3 0 3 16
Bordeaux 6 3 0 3 16
Ospreys 6 3 0 3 16
Clermont Auvergne 6 3 0 3 15
Pool 3
Team P W D L Pts
Racing Metro 6 4 1 1 22
Northampton Saints 6 4 1 1 19
Glasgow Warriors 6 3 0 3 14
Scarlets 6 0 0 6 2
Pool 4
Team P W D L Pts
Leicester Tigers 6 5 0 1 23
Stade Francais 6 4 0 2 19
Munster 6 3 0 3 15
Treviso 6 0 0 6 0
Pool 5
Team P W D L Pts
Wasps 6 4 0 2 20
Toulon 6 5 0 1 20
Bath 6 2 0 4 10
Leinster 6 1 0 5 6