Rhys Webb To Lead Ospreys Towards European History And Perfection

Ospreys coach Steve Tandy has called on his team to make it a perfect six out of six under captain Rhys Webb on Saturday.

Wales scrum-half Webb returns to skipper the region after recovering from long-term injury and will lead them in their final European Rugby Challenge Cup clash at Newcastle Falcons.

Webb will be out to reignite his challenge for a place on the British and Irish Lions tour when he runs out for the first time since suffering an ankle injury against Australia last autumn. The Ospreys are guaranteed a home quarter-final after five-straight bonus-point victories.

But they can go where no side has gone before in European competition if they make it six five-point victories at Kingston Park this weekend. Webb starts alongside Sam Davies in another strong Ospreys side. No fewer than six Wales internationals start, as well as the uncapped duo of Rory Thornton and Oily Cracknell, who could make their first appearances in this seasons Six Nations.

Tandy does not want his team to rest on their laurels in the final pool stage fixture.

He said: “It’s great that we are going into the final round knowing that we’ve already secured a home quarter-final, but we aren’t going to settle for that. We want to keep going and ensure that we finish on a high.

“What’s happened so far in this pool is behind us now, we are only concerned about what’s in store for us on Saturday and ensuring that our prep is right and we get the performance we want. Anything else is irrelevant.

“Newcastle are traditionally very strong at home. They’ve only lost once at home in this competition over the last three seasons and beat Bath in their last home league fixture, so we know it’s going to be tough.

“We’ve got another important block of fixtures for us, we are in contention in the Anglo Welsh and we are doing well in the PRO12 so it’s important that this group of players keep the momentum going. With the internationals set to be away now for a couple of months the onus is on those still here to maintain standards, keep pushing on and ensure that we continue challenging on all fronts.”

Leigh Halfpenny is out to deny Saracens who need just one bonus point against Toulon in order to guarantee a Champions Cup quarter-final spot.

Mark McCall’s side are unbeaten in the Champions Cup thus far – a 22-22 draw with Scarlets last weekend the closest they have come to tasting defeat in Europe. As a result Saracens are top of Pool 3 with 20 points, and their nearest rivals are this weekend’s visitors who have 15 points.

Wales full-back Halfpenny will start for Toulon who could usurp Sarries to finish top if they secure a bonus-point victory and deny the hosts any bonus points. That would mean Toulon edges out the Premiership side on the head-to-head after Saracens failed to claim a bonus point in their 31-23 win in round one.

Alex Lozowski is named at full-back for the visit of the three-time champions after impressing in the No 15 jersey against the Scarlets. Lozowski is joined in the back three by winger Sean Maitland, who returns after missing Saracens’ trip to west Wales.


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