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Challenge Cup finalists Leicester and Montpellier each make two changes from their semi-final XVs

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Getty Images)

Leicester and Montpellier have each made two changes to their Challenge Cup final XVs following respective semi-final wins three weeks ago over Ulster and Bath. The Tigers have Dan Kelly in their midfield in place of Matt Scott, with Cyle Brink coming in at back row for George Martin.

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Montpellier, meanwhile, have changes in the same two places, Jan Serfontein lining up at inside centre for Julien Tisseron and Fulgence Ouedraogo chosen at blindside for Nico Janse van Rensburg.

The French club’s bench looks very tasty, though, especially with the World Cup-winning Cobus Reinach and Handre Pollard ready to be thrown into the Twickenham fray should they be needed by Montpellier in a contest with Leicester that will be played in front of an attendance of 10,000.

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“We haven’t shared a matchday with Tigers supporters for more than a year and we are excited that we get that chance again on Friday night,” said Leicester boss Steve Borthwick, who opted to keep England No9 in reserve on his bench and stick with semi-final starter Richard Wigglesworth. “Our fans have been incredibly supportive from afar and we are pleased they have the chance to enjoy some live rugby in the upcoming weeks.

“I’m very pleased our players get the chance to play in front of Tigers fans again after so long. In every game we go out to put in a performance that our entire Tigers community is proud of, and that is what I will be asking of the players again this week.”

LEICESTER TIGERS: 15. Freddie Steward; 14. Guy Porter, 13. Matias Moroni, 12. Dan Kelly, 11. Nemani Nadolo; 10. George Ford, 9. Richard Wigglesworth; 1. Ellis Genge, 2. Tom Youngs (capt), 3. Dan Cole, 4. Harry Wells, 5. Calum Green, 6. Hanro Liebenberg, 7. Cyle Brink, 8. Jasper Wiese. Reps: 16. Charlie Clare, 17. Luan de Bruin, 18. Joe Heyes, 19. Cameron Henderson, 20. Tommy Reffell, 21. Ben Youngs, 22. Zack Henry, 23. Kini Murimurivalu.

MONTPELLIER: 15. Anthony Bouthier; 14. Arthur Vincent, 13. Johan Goosen, 12. Jan Serfontein, 11. Vincent Rattez; 10. Alex Lozowski, 9. Benoit Paillaugue; 1. Enzo Forletta, 2. Guilhem Guirado (capt), 3. Mohamed Haouas, 4. Florian Verhaeghe, 5. Paul Willemse, 6. Fulgence Ouedraogo, 7. Yacouba Camara, 8. Alexandre Becognee. Reps: 16. Bismarck Du Plessis, 17. Robert Rodgers, 18. Titi Lamositele, 19. Tyler Duguid, 20. Jacques Du Plessis, 21. Cobus Reinach, 22. Handre Pollard, 23. Gabriel N’gandebe.

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Flankly 8 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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FEATURE Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks
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