Ospreys v Bordeaux preview: Team news, kick-off time, line-ups, odds and stats for the Champions Cup clash
Ospreys host Bordeaux-Begles live on Sky Sports on Saturday: 17:15 kick-off
The Welsh region has made six changes to the side that beat Zebre in Italy last week
Ospreys face Union Bordeaux-Begles in a vital Champions Cup encounter at Swansea, with both sides needing a win.
The French team are looking for their first win the competition this year while Ospreys will be hoping to stretch their league at the top of the division.
Scott Baldwin has won his fitness battle to ensure he will be in the starting fifteen for the home side. The hooker has not played since injuring a shoulder in the game with Clermont Auvergne on November 22.
He came through training without problems this week to reclaim his place in the front row for an encounter the Ospreys need to win to press home their advantage at the head of Pool 2.
Dan Lydiate, Dan Biggar and Alun Wyn Jones also return to the starting line-up, but Jeff Hassler’s injury curse has struck yet again and he will miss out.
The wing missed much of last season with a knee problem and only started back this term for the Ospreys in the game with Zebre last week.
But a calf problem has ruled him out this weekend, meaning Hanno Dirksen comes in on the right wing.
Ospreys director of rugby Steve Tandy told the South West Evening Post: “The performance out in Italy last weekend, and with some players coming back to fitness, meant that selection was tough this week and there were some difficult conversations, but that is exactly how it should be and why we are working so hard to create the kind of depth you need to compete.
“We aren’t there yet, we know that, but we are heading in the right direction with a squad of players who want to improve, who want to be the best and believe in what we are doing here.”
Meanwhile, Bordeaux give a first start to World Cup finalist Sekope Kepu but fellow Australian Adam Ashley-Cooper isn’t deemed yet up to speed after his arrival in France.
The Welsh region lead Pool 2 having beaten Exeter and earned two bonus points in defeat at Clermont Auvergne.
However, Bordeaux-Begles and Clermont have played only one game each amid postponements following the terrorist attacks on Paris in November.
The French Top 14 club lie bottom of the group having lost 34-19 at Exeter in round two.
Ospreys are winless in last three matches against French teams in the Champions Cup, but have never gone four games in a row without victory against French opposition.
The Welsh region have won 22 of their last 29 home fixtures in the competition and have drawn three of those matches with just four defeats.
Bordeaux-Bègles have been victorious just once from five Champions Cup matches away from home
The French sides only triumph was registered in their first ever away fixture in the competition.
BETTING ODDS (via SKY BET)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ospreys: Alun Wyn Jones
Bordeaux: Pierre Bernard
Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Jonathan Spratt, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 James King, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Lloyd Ashley, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Ben John.
Bordeaux-Bègles: 15 Jean-Marcellin Buttin, 14 Jean-Baptiste Dubié, 13 Felix Le Bourhis, 12 Charles Brousse, 11 Nans Ducuing, 10 Pierre Bernard, 9 Heini Adams, 8 Marco Tauleigne, 7 Hugh Chalmers, 6 Matthew Clarkin, 5 Adam Jaulhac, 4 Berend Botha, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Clement Maynadier, 1 Jefferson Poirot.
Replacements: 16 Ronan Chambord, 17 Jean-Baptiste Poux, 18 Patrick Toetu, 19 Cyril Cazeaux, 20 Louis Madaule, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Romain Lonca, 23 Paulin Riva.
Date: Saturday, December 12
Venue: Liberty Stadium
Kick-off: 17:15 GMT
Referee: JP Doyle (England)
Assistant Referees: Greg Garner (England), Paul Burton (England)
TMO: Sean Davey (England)