Heineken Champions Cup: Leicester v Ospreys (Fri)

Heineken Champions Cup: Leicester v Ospreys (Fri)

Leicester Tiger’s Anthony Watson scored a stunning solo try in December’s gripping 23-17 victory at Ospreys
Venue: Welford Road, Leicester Date: Friday, 20 January Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Coverage: Live scores and audio commentary on the BBC Sport website and app. Live on S4C, BBC Radio Leicester and BBC Radio Wales. Match report on the BBC Sport website and app.

Recalled Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb will miss Ospreys’ decisive final European Champions Cup game at Leicester on Friday.

Webb is replaced by Reuben Morgan-Williams with front-row pair Nicky Smith and Dewi Lake the other changes.

Leicester, who have already qualified for the last 16, make five changes with Harry Potter returning on the wing.

There are also recalls for Jack van Poortvliet, Dan Cole, Olly Cracknell and Hanro Liebenberg.

Former Ospreys number eight Cracknell is a Wales under-20 international and lines-up alongside senior Wales international flanker Tommy Reffell.

The Tigers’ back row is completed by Liebenberg who takes over the captaincy from Ben Youngs who drops to the bench.

Ollie Chessum moves from the back row to lock in place of Harry Wells, while Cole replaces Joe Heyes at tight-head prop.

Van Poortvliet takes over from Youngs at scrum-half and Freddie Steward moves from wing to full-back with Charlie Atkinson dropping to the replacements.

Webb, 34, was named in Warren Gatland’s Wales Six Nations squad this week having not played in an international since November 2020. He has been in good form for Ospreys this season, but was forced to leave the field after just 10 minutes in their win over Montpellier last weekend.

British and Irish Lions back George North remains amongst the replacements. He made his return with 18 minutes off the bench last Saturday, his first game time since suffering four facial fractures in December.

Leicester are looking to maintain a 100% win record in this season’s competition to ensure a home tie in the last 16 and potentially the quarter-finals.

Ospreys are fifth in Pool B on 10 points after back-to-back wins over French champions Montpellier. A point at Welford Road would seal a place in the last 16, while a bonus-point win would guarantee a home tie.

Already assured of at least a place in the knockout rounds of the lower tier European Challenge Cup, Ospreys could continue in the Champions Cup even if they leave Leicester empty handed on Friday, but would require other results to go their way.

Ospreys head coach Toby Booth said: “In this one we need to make sure we don’t give away anything for free. Welford Road is a tough place to go, and we’ll need to make everything count.

“Leicester are one of the form teams in Europe, as well as being English Champions, which means there’s a lot of things to overcome against a very good team.”

Leicester Tigers: Steward; Potter, Scott, Kelly, Simmons; Pollard, Van Poortvliet; Whitcombe, Clare, Cole, Chessum, Henderson, Liebenberg (capt), Reffell, Cracknell.

Replacements: Montoya, Richardson, Hurd, Wells, Jansen, Youngs, Gopperth, Atkinson.

Ospreys: C Evans; Cuthbert, Collins, Hawkins, Giles; O Williams, Morgan-Williams; Smith, Lake, Botha, Beard, AW Jones, R Davies, Tipuric (capt), J Morgan.

Replacements: Baldwin, G Thomas, Henry, Sutton, Morris, Aubrey, K Williams, North.

Referee: Tual Trainini (France)

Assistant referees: Adrien Descottes & Christophe Bultet (France)

TMO: Thomas Charabas (France)

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