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Bristol make 6 changes to their XV for Challenge Cup final

(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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.

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Dylan Hartley and Jamie Roberts preview the Champions Cup final on RugbyPass Offload

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Dylan Hartley and Jamie Roberts preview the Champions Cup final on RugbyPass Offload

“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.”

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.



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Flankly 10 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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