Bath settle down for Colomiers challenge

Seven was clearly the significant figure of the Parker Pen Challenge Cup second-round, first-leg matches with three English clubs - Bath, London Irish and Newcastle - winning by that margin.

Of this trio, the Zurich Premiership leaders, Bath, would appear to have the best chance of making it through to the quarter-finals, where they will meet either Béziers or Grenoble. Bath's seven-pointer was earned in Colomiers and in today's second leg they enjoy home advantage over the French side, having been unbeaten at The Recreation Ground all season.

They will have to win without the lock Steve Borthwick, though, after he suffered a split nostril in last weekend's first leg. At least the head coach, John Connolly, is not stuck for talent to replace Borthwick. The aggressive and much-improved Rob Fidler comes into the second row. "The doctor advised us that Steve should not play," Connolly said. "There was a risk that if we played him and the wound reopened, he might require plastic surgery."

Bath have to keep faith with the back line which helped earn them that precious first-leg win, which means the Scotland wing Simon Danielli continues at full-back and the scrum-half, Ross Blake, plays another game on the wing. "I thought that Simon was outstanding," Connolly added. "He is an exciting young player who is really developing, whilst Ross Blake did extremely well on the wing."

But there are signs that the injury hoodoo which has had up to a dozen of their three-quarters on the physio's couch is losing its potency. Connolly has been able to name the fly-half Chris Malone on the bench. He has recovered from a foot injury he picked up in early November.

It is a different story for London Irish, who underperformed at home to Narbonne in their first leg, and the coach, Gary Gold, said: "We will have to lift our game for the second leg. Narbonne are very strong up front with a good scrum that provides a platform for them to unleash their dangerous backs. We are under no illusions about the size of the task that awaits us." Gold has made two changes to the starting line-up, both of them in the front row, where Doug Wheatley starts at loosehead prop and Rob Hardwick returns at tight-head.

Newcastle, who beat their French opponents 10-3 at Kingston Park last week, face an equally daunting task tomorrow when they have to tackle Montferrand without their England fly-half, Jonny Wilkinson, who has still not recovered from a shoulder injury. They have also suffered a double blow up front, where they will have to do without their locks, Garath Archer and Mark Andrews.

Harlequins, in contrast, look to have a formality at home to Montauban, whom they thrashed 43-8 last weekend. Mark Evans, the Quins chief executive and head coach, afforded himself the luxury of resting a raft of first-choice players including Will Greenwood, Jason Leonard, Andre Vos, Pat Sanderson and Ugo Monye, and making 10 changes in all.

The prop Mike Worsley returns from injury and into the team come James Hayter, Jon Dawson, Bill Davison, Jim Evans, Tony Diprose and Luke Sherriff, the captain. Scott Bemand, Chris Bell and Matt Moore all start in the back line.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?