Pat Lam has made six changes to his Bristol side for Friday night’s Challenge Cup final versus Toulon following last weekend’s Gallagher Premiership semi-final loss at Wasps. Alapati Leiua (for Piers O’Conor) and Harry Randall (for Andy Uren) return to the backline while in the pack, Dave Attwood lines up against his former side with Dan Thomas, Yann Thomas and Kyle Sinckler also included.
Props Jake Woolmore and John Afoa, along with second row Joe Joyce, were all starters in Coventry. They now drop to the bench while Nathan Thomas misses out altogether with a rib injury. Earl moves to No8 to accommodate the inclusion of Thomas as Bristol look to win their first major silverware since 1983.
Although beaten 47-24 at the Ricoh Arena last Saturday in the English league last-four, Bristol go into the European final as the Challenge Cup’s leading try scorers (38) and points scorers (302) from their eight matches to date.
“The thing that’s pleasing is it wasn’t the end last weekend. We get a chance to go again,” Bristol director of rugby Lam said. “There is a cup at the end of it and we all understand the enormity of the challenge, but we also understand what we have done to get here.
“Getting a trophy would be a significant boost for the club. If anything, coming off a game like last weekend, it gives you even more focus and clarity. This is the last time we plan on being in this competition. We will be in the Champions Cup next year – and hopefully every year after that.”
Who's backing him for a big game tomorrow night? pic.twitter.com/W0sKgsxMId
— Challenge Cup (@ERChallengeCup) October 15, 2020
Toulon, meanwhile, have made also six changes to their side following last weekend’s 25-21 Top 14 home win over Montpellier. Five of those changes are in the pack and include the recall of France captain Charles Ollivon to the back row.
BRISTOL: 15. Max Malins; 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Semi Radradra, 12. Siale Piutau, 11. Alapati Leiua; 10. Callum Sheedy, 9. Harry Randall; 1. Yann Thomas, 2. Harry Thacker, 3. Kyle Sinckler, 4. Dave Attwood, 5. Chris Vui, 6. Steven Luatua (capt), 7. Daniel Thomas, 8. Ben Earl. Reps: 16. George Kloska, 17. Jake Woolmore, 18. John Afoa, 19. Joe Joyce, 20. Jake Heenan, 21. Tom Kessell, 22. Piers O’Conor, 23. Niyi Adeolokun.
TOULON: 15. Gervais Cordin; 14. Bryce Heem, 13. Isaiah Toeava, 12. Duncan Paia’aua, 11. Gabin Villiere; 10. Louis Carbonel, 9. Baptiste Serin; 1. Jean Baptiste Gros, 2. Anthony Etrillard (capt), 3. Beka Gigashvili, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 5. Romain Taofifenua, 6. Charles Ollivon, 7. Raphael Lakafia, 8. Sergio Parisse. Reps: 16. Bastien Soury, 17. Florian Fresia, 18. Emerick Setiano, 19. Brian Alainu’uese, 20. Swan Rebbadj, 21. Julien Ory, 22. Tane Takulua, 23. Masivesi Dakuwaqa.
Very worrying https://t.co/WtJBbUgNXL
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 14, 2020
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now