Heineken Champions: Leicester Tigers v Connacht Rugby


Bundee Aki smiling
Bundee Aki returns from injury to play his first game for Connacht in over two months
Venue: Mattioli Woods Welford Road, Leicester Date: Sunday, 19 December Kick-off: 13:00 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra.

Departing prop Ellis Genge has been left out of the squad for Leicester’s Champions Cup game against Connacht.

England scrum-half Ben Youngs returns to the starting XV, while Freddie Burns replaces George Ford at fly-half.

Connacht have made six changes to the side that beat Stade Francais 36-9.

Bundee Aki returns from injury to start at 12, while Kieran Marmion is at scrum-half and Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham and Ultan Dillane come into the pack.

Tiernan O’Halloran will start at full-back for the Irish province and Tietie Tuimauga could make his debut off the bench.

Bristol announced on Thursday that Genge would rejoin the side for next season and loose-head prop Nephi Leatigaga will start in his place on Sunday.

Newly emerged England star Freddie Steward is on the wing for the hosts, with Dan Kelly coming in at 12.

Eli Snyman is brought into the second row as the Tigers attempt to claim their 13th straight win of the season.

View from both camps

Leicester head coach Steve Borthwick: “We have made a handful of changes, which provides some opportunities for players who did not feature in France last weekend as well as continuing to strengthen the depth in this group.”

Connacht head coach Andy Friend: “We’re under no illusions we face one of the biggest challenges in European rugby on Sunday, but it’s also very exciting and exactly the kind of occasion you want to play in.

“We’ve brought in a lot of experience which will stand to us for a game like this, and there’s some powerful options on the bench as well.”

Line-ups

Leicester: Hegarty; Steward, Scott, Kelly, Saumaki; Burns, Youngs; Leatigaga, Dolly, Heyes, Wells, Snyman, Martin, Reffell, Wiese.

Replacements: Montoya, Whitcombe, Cole, Green, Chessum, Van Staden, Van Poortvliet, Porter.

Connacht: O’Halloran; Porch, Arnold, Aki, Wootton; Carty, Marmion; Burke, Heffernan, Bealham, Dillane, Murray, Prendergast, Oliver, Butler.

Replacements: Delahunt, Tuimauga, Aungier, Fifita, Papali’i, Blade, Fitzgerald, Kilgallen.

Match facts

  • Leicester have lost five of their last seven home games in the Heineken Champions Cup (W2), after losing only one of the previous 34 (winning 31 and drawing two); they have lost their last two home games but have never lost more in succession in the competition.
  • Connacht have lost their last six away games in the Heineken Champions Cup and have also lost each of their six trips to England in the competition, scoring fewer than 20 points in each of those six games.

Match officials

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)

Assistant referees: Thomas Charabas and Jonathan Dufort (France)

TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (France)



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