Alun Wyn rested by the Ospreys for Stade clash

South Wales Evening Post - - RUGBY -

OSPREYS head coach Allen Clarke has opted to rest Wales cap­tain Alun Wyn Jones, but the re­main­der of his in­ter­na­tional stars are named in a strong line-up to take on Stade Fran­cais in the Euro­pean Chal­lenge Cup at the Lib­erty Sta­dium to­day (3pm).

While Jones is given a wel­learned break fol­low­ing his ex­ploits dur­ing the au­tumn se­ries, Clarke is tak­ing no chances on home soil and in­cludes the likes of Ge­orge North, Scott Wil­liams, Aled Davies, Nicky Smith, Adam Beard and skip­per Justin Tipuric in his start­ing XV.

There are just three per­son­nel changes from the side that thumped Ze­bre 43-0 in Swansea last time out.

Lloyd Ash­ley comes in to part­ner Beard in the sec­ond row, Ma’afu Fia gets the nod at tight-head prop, while in the only switch be­hind the scrum, Cory Allen is named in mid­field with Owen Watkin drop­ping to the bench.

The Ospreys have had a mixed start to their pool cam­paign, with a bonus-point win over Pau fol­lowed by de­feat in Worces­ter. But, they re­main firmly in the mix for qual­i­fi­ca­tion, just three points be­hind the War­riors in Pool 2.

Clarke said: “The next five games is an im­por­tant pe­riod for us as a club, with Euro­pean fix­tures and big derby matches ahead. Whist chal­leng­ing it is par­tic­u­larly ex­cit­ing for the play­ers, staff and no doubt our sup­port­ers.

“The per­for­mance and re­sult against Ze­bre was sat­is­fy­ing but there is an in­her­ent de­sire to keep im­prov­ing as in­di­vid­u­als and as a team.”

Stade are with­out French in­ter­na­tion­als Gael Fickou, Jonathan Danty, Jules Plis­son, Yoann Maestri and Fi­jian flyer Waisea Nay­a­calevu. Ospreys: D Evans; G North, S Wil­liams, C Allen, L Mor­gan; S Davies, A Davies; N Smith, S Bald­win, M Fia, L Ash­ley, A Beard, O Crack­nell, J Tipuric (capt), S Cross. Reps: S Ot­ten, R Jones, T Botha, J King, G Volpi, T Hab­ber­field, J Hook, O Watkin. Stade Fran­cais: T En­sor; Jarias, M Hingano, A Ar­rate, J Yobo; M Steyn, C Daguin; S Cle­ment, L Sem­pere (capt), G Me­likidze, M De Gio­vanni, A Flan­quart, S Ni­co­las, H Stassen, R Cha­puis. Reps: L Pa­nis, S Fisi­ihoi, M Alo Emile, W Al­berts, C Fran­coz, A Warner, L Etien, D Ca­mara. Ref­eree: Tom Fo­ley (Eng).

Alun Wyn Jones gets a well-de­served break.

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