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Gloucester focused on securing home Challenge Cup quarter-final clash


Bath rugby director Todd Blackadder has his sights set on a European Challenge Cup home quarter-final

Bath rugby director Todd Blackadder has his sights set on a European Challenge Cup home quarter-final

Bath rugby director Todd Blackadder has his sights set on a European Challenge Cup home quarter-final

Gloucester will aim to secure a home European Challenge Cup quarter-final when they host French club Bayonne on Saturday.

The west country club are already through to this season's knockout phase, but a bonus-point victory over opponents already eliminated will book a Kingsholm last-eight tie later this season.

"They (Bayonne) are a good team. No matter what team they bring, they will be strong and they will play a lot of rugby," Gloucester attack coach Tim Taylor said.

"We've just got to nullify them with our defence, which has been outstanding, and stick to our basics in game-plan and attack and play in the right areas of the pitch.

"It's important that we manage the game well. We don't want to go chasing it too early.

"We will go out to win, to build slowly, build a score, keep on top of them and hopefully come away with that bonus-point win. But it will be a massive challenge, and we have to look for that win before anything."

Bath will secure a home tie if they beat French opponents Pau at the Recreation Ground on Saturday, ensuring they finish above Cardiff Blues whatever the Welsh challengers do against Bristol this weekend.

"Our European destiny is really in our hands now," Bath rugby director Todd Blackadder said.

"We want to back up the performance from last week (against Bristol) on our home turf, and it should be a great afternoon at the Rec."

For their part, the Blues must also chase victory against Arms Park visitors Bristol in pursuit of a quarter-final berth.

"There are still a few permutations that can play out, but we have to get away from that," Blues head coach Danny Wilson said.

"We need to focus on one thing and one thing only, and that is a home win. We need a home win to make the quarter-finals.

"If we win, then we make a quarter-final, and that's a great achievement for us at the moment. Last season, we didn't get close to that, so in this competition it's a big improvement."

The Ospreys, bolstered by Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb's return from an ankle injury, will make European rugby history if they claim a bonus-point success against Newcastle on Saturday.

A quarter-final place has already been secured, but a maximum haul in the north-east would see Ospreys become the first team to claim 30 points from six European group games in either the Challenge Cup or Champions Cup.

"It's great that we are going into the final round knowing that we have 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," Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy said.

"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."

One player who will not be involved for the Ospreys at Kingston Park will be exciting wing prospect Keelan Giles, who injured his hamstring against Lyon last weekend.

Giles has not been included in Wales' RBS 6 Nations squad - he was involved during this season's autumn Tests - and Ospreys medical performance manager Chris Towers said: "Keelan pulled up with a hamstring injury.

"We have assessed it closely and had test-imaging to fully confirm the extent of the damage. At this stage, we are predicting a recovery period for Keelan of approximately four weeks."