European Challenge Cup: Opponents preview – Round Four

Charlie Peat
13 December 2017

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The European Challenge Cup pool stages is reaching its climax and there are five more crunch fixtures for the Guinness PRO14 sides this weekend.

Edinburgh and Connacht are looking to strengthen their places at the top of their pools with Cardiff Blues and Zebre both needing positive results.

So as we prepare for another round of European fixtures, here’s a look at who the Guinness PRO14 sides are up against.


Dragons v Newcastle Falcons
Kick-off: 19:30
Venue: Rodney Parade

A huge clash awaits at Rodney Parade with just four points separating Newcastle Falcons and Dragons at the top of pool one.

The Welsh province beat Russian side Enisei-STM 15-0 to set up a crunch clash with the Falcons who confidently despatched Bordeaux-Begles 52-24.

The English side have been scoring tries for fun in this competition and the Dragons will need to be on alert right from the get-go.

Dangerous winger Adam Radwan scored two of six first half tries for Dave Walder’s side against Bordeaux.

And with the likes of Alex Tait and Joshua Matavesi also in red-hot form, this should be a thrilling contest.

Edinburgh Rugby v Krasny Yar
Kick-off: 19:35
Venue: BT Murrayfield Stadium

Edinburgh have had a scintillating start to their Challenge Cup campaign, winning all three to leave them in command of pool four.

And they will now take on Russian side Krasny Yar who they demolished 73-14 in Moscow two months ago.

But the Russian side will be smarting from that defeat and a shock victory in round one against defending champions Stade Francais should give them enough belief to take the game to the Scottish outfit.

Edinburgh will have to look out for the reliable boot of Lasha Malaguradze who has kicked 27 points so far in the competition.


Gloucester Rugby v Zebre
Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: Kingsholm Stadium

Revenge will certainly be on the menu for Zebre when they head to England to take on in form Gloucester.

The Cherry and Whites came from behind to defeat the Italian outfit 33-26 and condemn Zebre to their third defeat of the competition.

Two tries from Gloucester’s Ollie Thorley proved the difference with Ruan Ackermann, Owen Williams and Richard Hibbard also going over.

Johan Ackermann’s men will certainly be in high spirits as they sit second in the table in England but a positive performance by Zebre last time should give them hope of an upset at Kingsholm.

Connacht v Brive
Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: The Sportsground

Connacht showed superb grit to battle back from 19-3 down to prevail 38-31 in Brive last time out; putting the Irish province within touching distance of progressing to the quarter-finals.

But Connacht know they’ll have to be much better to make it four wins from four in the pool stages with their Top 14 side out to prove a point at the Sportsground.

Scrum-half Florian Cazenave and Julien Brugnaut both dotted down for the French outfit with Mike Tadger bagging a brace last weekend.

Connacht will also have to watch out for reliable kicker Gaetan Germain as the sides do battle again in round four.


Cardiff Blues v Sale Sharks
Kick-off: 15:15
Venue: Cardiff Arms Park

Last weekend’s 24-0 defeat at the hands of Sale Sharks significantly damaged the Blues’ chances of reaching the quarter-finals.

Will Cliff and Marc Jones got over the line in the crushing defeat to secure a first win of the competition for the Sharks.

AJ MacGinty was also in superb kicking form and with the likes of Denny Solomona hitting their stride, the match presents itself as a must-win for the Blues.

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