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Underhill can impress and secure Lions place


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Sam Underhill (AndyRain/PA)

Sam Underhill (AndyRain/PA)

PA

Sam Underhill (AndyRain/PA)

Sam Underhill will complete a half-century of Bath appearances knowing a strong performance against Montpellier on Saturday could secure a place in the British and Irish Lions squad.

Warren Gatland will be watching the Challenge Cup semi-final from the stands at the Recreation Ground just five days before he names his 36-strong party for the summer series against South Africa.

Anthony Watson and Taulupe Faletau also start and are certain to be picked by Gatland, but Underhill would benefit from a timely reminder of his destructive power as a big-hitting flanker having missed the Six Nations because of a hip injury.

The England back row plays in a ferociously competitive position where the Lions are populated with a number of high-quality options.

Bath won the Challenge Cup in 2008, while Montpellier followed in their footsteps in 2016. Bath won both previous meetings between the rivals in 2006-07.

Montpellier are enduring a troubled season and occupy a lowly 12th place in the French Top 14, forcing them to battle to avoid a relegation play-off match.

Meanwhile, crowds of up to 10,000 will be able to attend the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals at Twickenham next month.

The home of English rugby has been announced by tournament organisers EPCR as the host stadium for the matches, which are to be played on Friday May 21 and Saturday May 22.

No Gallagher Premiership clubs have reached the semi-finals of the Champions Cup being held this weekend, but Leicester and Bath have advanced to the last four of the less prestigious Challenge Cup.

It will be the first time since 2,000 spectators were present for the Autumn Nations Cup showpiece between England and France on December 6 that supporters have been allowed into Twickenham.

"We're looking forward to seeing up to 10,000 fans back at Twickenham again for these EPCR finals and are delighted to be chosen to host the fixtures," Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney said.

"This is an important opportunity for us to hold events as part of plans for the return of fans to stadia. We are working hard with EPCR and local authorities to put various measures in place to ensure the safety and well-being of all those attending each match."

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