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.


Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
videoWatch Lynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance
A view of today's Spanish papers
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'

sportAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 pose for Children in Need 2001
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution

Review: Witty banalities aside, the comedian has an authentic voice

Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

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

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London