Ospreys v Racing 92 kick-off at 3.15pm
Good afternoon, and welcome to our live coverage of this afternoon’s European Champions Cup encounter between the Ospreys and Racing 92.
Let’s remind ourselves of the team news:
Rhys Webb returns to lead the Ospreys after being badly missed in last weekend’s United Rugby Championship 38-19 defeat to Glasgow Warriors.
Webb last featured for his side against the Scarlets on New Year’s Day when he was outstanding.
“He leads by example,” Ospreys boss Toby Booth said.
“When you are devoid of your Lydiates, Tipurics, George Norths, Cuthbert and Alun Wyn, you need people who are going to be leaders and lead by example.
“Rhys is a person we can count on in that respect.”
The Ospreys also hand a start to Keiran Williams, his first since the game with Munster in October, with a rib injury having hindered him. He takes the place of Michael Collins in midfield after a player admired by Wayne Pivac endured a difficult afternoon against Glasgow, falling off some important tackles and finding it hard to achieve penetration in attack.
Collins features among the replacements.
It’s an opportunity for Williams, who, when fit and firing, can offer a directness that tests even quality defenders.
There’s another start for Gareth Anscombe after the Wales Test man showed glimpses of his class last time out. The fly-half set up a try for Dan Evans with a lovely break and didn’t miss in front of goal: five kicks attempted, every one nailed. There was also a nice dink or two over the top that might have yielded points on another day.
On the debit side, Anscombe missed a tackle that led to a Glasgow try, but Booth feels he is still moving up the gears after his long-term absence through injury.
“He’s had four games worth of minutes in two years, so I’d be pretty comfortable talking of Gareth being on the comeback trail,” he said.
“The more time he spends in the saddle the better he gets.
“We saw elements of his attack last week that we are progressing. He has an eye for challenging the line, which excites us, and he’s a very, very good goal-kicker. But as you polish up these things you are going to get exposed to more situations, and the more he’s exposed to them the better he’ll get.”
Gareth Anscombe and team-mates in Glasgow (Image: Huw Evans Picture Agency)
Ospreys : Mat Protheroe; Alex Cuthbert, Owen Watkin, Keiran Williams, Luke Morgan; Gareth Anscombe, Rhys Webb (capt); Gareth Thomas, Dewi Lake, Tomas Francis, Rhys Davies, Adam Beard, Will Griffiths, Jac Morgan,. Ethan Roots.
Replacements : Elvis Taione, Nicky Smith, Ma’afu Fia, Will Hickey, Sam Cross, Reuben Morgan-Williams, Josh Thomas, Michael Collins.
Racing 92 : Kurtley Beale; Teddy Thomas, Oliver Klemenczak, Gael Fickou, Juan Imhoff; Finn Russell, Maxime Machenaud; Eddy Ben Arous, Teddy Baubigny, Ali Oz, Luke Jones, Boris Palu, Ibrahim Diallo, Baptiste Chouzenoux, Anthime Hemery.
Replacements : Jonathan Maiau, Guram Gogichashvili, Cedate Gomes, Victor Moreaux, Camille Chat, Antoine, Gilbert, Virimi Vakatawa, Donovan Taofifenua.